Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini has revealed that working with Red Devils boss Louis van Gaal has helped him find the confidence to finally make his mark at Old Trafford, emerging as a strong character after a very difficult first season at the Theatre of Dreams.
Fellaini believes he became something of a scapegoat for a disastrous campaign last term, because he was the only major summer signing brought to the club by former coach David Moyes.
The Belgian midfielder struggled to find anything like top form and his place at United looked under genuine threat in the close season, but he's come back from injury to prove his worth his worth to Van Gaal and is adamant he always kept faith in his ability to do a job in his favoured position.
Fellaini takes chance offered by Van Gaal
In a frank discussion with The Times on all things United the midfield giant revealed: “Some of the newspapers said that Van Gaal didn’t want me, but I knew the truth. When he spoke to me he told me that he wanted me to show him that I could play.
“That was it. After that, I showed myself in training and then I started to play. The manager did not push me out as some people suggested he would, he has given me a chance to play an important part in his team and he has supported me. He has been fantastic for everyone."
West Brom goal changed things
“When I play, he gives me a role and he gives me confidence. This has really helped me, but I never lost belief that I could be a good player for United. Like every other player, there will be games when I do not play well, but for now things are going really well so I am happy.”
There's no question that the tide turned for Fellaini after a strong cameo from the bench against West Bromwich Albion earlier this season.
The 27-year-old scored with a thunderous drive from range to finally show United fans the kind of impact Everton supporters were treated to for the best part of five seasons, a performance that help persuade Van Gaal he was deserving of regular game time when fully fit.
Top four finish the minimum requirement
Fellaini has now started eight successive matches since changing the game against West Brom, with perhaps his best display in a United shirt coming against Liverpool last weekend.
In a deeper role Fellaini broke up play and won the ball consistently, helping United secure a 3-0 win over their bitter rivals that took a highly improbably winning run to six matches.
After surging to third in the table United have been mentioned in the title shake-up for the first time this season, with Fellaini adamant that he believe he can continue to make a significant contribution to Van Gaal's red revolution.
“The goal against West Brom was a big moment,” he recalls. “It was 1-0, I came on and scored after ten minutes. We drew and it was a hard game, but it proved that I had something to offer to this team.
“That was important. I am not a player who will be judged by the number of goals I score, but it is always important to show that you can make a contribution, especially if people are doubting you. But I never regretted coming to this club.
“When Manchester United come you don’t say no. This is one of the greatest clubs in the world, it has great players, great supporters and a great history, so even when it was hard for me I have always been happy to be here.”