Something strange has happened at Old Trafford. The sarcastic cheers have gone. For Marouane Fellaini this week was a crucial one. With Ander Herrera's rib injury, the Belgian was afforded perhaps one more chance to prove he can make the grade at Old Trafford. So far it has been a chance that he has taken.
Fellaini has had it tough in Manchester, brought in as an apparent desperation signing by David Moyes in the last hour of 2013's summer transfer window, the midfielder became a scapegoat of fans disgruntled with the previous regime.
He was seen as the embodiment of everything that went wrong for Manchester United last season, despite only making fifteen league starts throughout the campaign. However, his first goal for the club on Monday night at West Brom looks like it could be the catalyst that the Belgian needed for bigger and better things with the Red Devils.
Fellaini finally showing his true quality
It was evident against Chelsea, the midfielder was winning aerial battles, putting in strong challenges on the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard successfully and making interceptions in crucial areas of the pitch. The sarcastic cheers that greeted him when the club turned out for a pre-season friendly against Valencia had gone, this time the crowd's praise was genuine.
They recognised the crucial effect that the stifling of Fabregas was having on the game. He finally got rewarded for his endeavours late in the game, rising to win the aerial battle in Chelsea's penalty box and power a header down that Thibaut Courtois could only parry straight to Robin Van Persie for the late, late goal that this club was known for in the pre-Moyes years.
Belgian star deserves to keep place
The midfielder is making a contribution right now and with this level of performance, no one can say he will not retain his place in the side. Manchester City are next. United's closest rivals have talents of their own that Fellaini must attempt to stifle as successfully as he did Fabregas.
David Silva and James Milner are in form, Samir Nasri can come off the bench and of course there is Yaya Toure with something of a point to prove for the first time in his City career. For United to be successful they need another big performance from their big Belgian. If he provides one the sarcastic cheers may forever be a thing of the past.
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