Football

Marouane Fellaini.

Jose Mourinho had his eye on Fellaini months before taking United job

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When Jose Mourinho was announced as the new Manchester United manager back in May, it looked for all the world that Marouane Fellaini's future lay away from Old Trafford.

The Belgian midfielder was already an object of derision amongst United fans after a couple of lacklustre campaigns in Manchester, and few thought he would feature in Mourinho's plans.

However, to many people's surprise, Fellaini has carved out an important role in the Portuguese manager's starting XI so far this season. Perhaps, though, that shouldn't come as a total surprise considering how Mourinho described Fellaini to friends months before he was given the United job.

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As revealed by Martin Samuel in his latest column for the Daily Mail, Mourinho had been keeping close tabs on the Manchester club in the final months of last season, as Louis van Gaal's tenure appeared on the brink.

And, taking particular notice of Fellaini's performances, he told friends:

"He's not Maradona...but he'll be awkward to play against."

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Considering Fellaini was the butt of jokes in Manchester last season after struggling for form, you'd probably have expected Mourinho to be critical of the midfielder rather than talk him up.

And, had Mourinho made his thoughts on the combative midfielder public at the time, it would likely have put to an end the summer of speculation concerning the former Everton man's future at Old Trafford.

Fellaini may have been linked with a move to Sunderland before the season began but, clearly, the new United boss has seen potential in the midfielder for some time.

AFC Bournemouth v Manchester United - Premier League

Now that the season is up and running, we are seeing Mourinho putting what he knew into action.

After impressing on the opening weekend of the season as the Red Devils ran out 3-1 winners over Bournemouth, Fellaini was again deployed in central midfield - this time alongside Paul Pogba - in last Friday's win over Southampton.

Partnership

Although it was only one game, the duo looked to have the beginnings of what could be an imposing partnership in the centre of the field.

Fellaini may have drawn criticism in recent times for the way he puts himself about. However, this appears to be exactly what Mourinho is looking for as he looks to find the ideal partner that will allow Pogba to thrive at Old Trafford.

FBL-ENG-PR-MAN UTD-SOUTHAMPTON

One thing is for sure, with neither midfielder shying away from contact on the pitch, Manchester United's opponents will certainly know they've been in a game when they come up against the pair this year.

Heading into the summer, few United fans would have predicted (or wanted) a Fellaini-Pogba midfield partnership, but it might just turn out to be Mourinho's latest masterstroke.

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Topics:
Wayne Rooney
Paul Pogba
Manchester United
UEFA Champions League
Football
Premier League
Marouane Fellaini
Jose Mourinho

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