Marouane Fellaini’s resurgence at Manchester United hasn’t gone unnoticed by his manager.
“Fellaini is playing well,” Mourinho said after the Belgian’s imposing performance in last month’s 2-0 win against Southampton. “It’s changed completely the relationship.”
The 27-year-old hasn’t missed a minute since Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford, managing to keep Juan Mata and Ander Herrera out of the starting line-up. Considering how out-of-favour he was with United supporters last season, it’s some turnaround.
But there remains a nasty side to Fellaini’s game. Last season, he was handed a three-match ban for elbowing Robert Huth and he’s received yellow cards in his previous two games.
The ugly-side of the midfielder’s play style might have reared its head once again during Saturday’s Manchester derby.
It could have been the occasion, or it could have been that Fellaini doesn’t care how he treats opposing players. There’s also the possibility that it was an accident. Either way, an image of him appearing to spit at Nolito is doing the rounds on social media.
The pair came together on the half hour mark, pressing their heads together in obvious frustration. As they drew their heads back, some spittle appears to come out of Fellaini’s mouth.
It seems pretty innocuous. All of us have produced some unhygienic spit when in a rage. But the people of Twitter don’t seen it that way.
Trouble appears to follow Fellaini wherever he goes. In 2012 he received a three-match ban after headbutting Ryan Shawcross while playing for Everton. Then there’s the incident with Leicester City’s Huth.
It’s without doubt the part of his game that lets him down. He’s rather inconsistent but when he’s on form, there are few more frustrating players to play against.
Mourinho's phone call
Mourinho revealed last month that it took just a simple phone call for him to bring out the Belgium international’s best.
“Maybe a simple phone call can make a difference, to a player who feeling he was not loved, a player who when the [transfer] market opened everyone was saying he was leaving,” the United boss said, per the Telegraph. “Everyone was saying he wasn’t for me.
“Maybe a simple phone call then after my presentation as Manchester United manager changed a lot. I said to him, ‘Forget everything you read. With me you don’t leave, for sure’.”