Memphis was the star of the show when Manchester United beat Club Brugge 3-1 in the first leg Champions League play-off. He scored two amazing goals and one assist at the last second of the game. But Marouane Fellaini was the player who was there at the last second of the game that put the ball at the back of the net with his towering header. That goal made the second leg in Brugge next week a less daunting prospect.
Fellaini came on as a substitute in the 85th minute for Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United captain has struggled for form recently. His touch seems to have deserted him and Louis van Gaal will hope this does not continue as more games are coming thick and fast. Van Gaal needs goals and it seems he would use any player at his disposal to help rejuvenate Rooney to his best striking form.
Last season Fellaini seemed to turn on the corner at his United’s career. After a dismal first season with David Moyes in charge, fans started to think that Fellaini was a waste of money. They called him “the lampost” because of his height. There was even a rumor saying that he is about to be sold to Napoli at the end of 2013-2014 season, but Fellaini stayed and he fought for his place under the new manager Louis van Gaal.
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He scored seven goals last season and made 31 appearances for the club. That was a decent return for someone who is not a regular starter and usually came from the substitute bench.
It seems Van Gaal realised that when all things failed during a match, he would turn to Fellaini as a last resort for goals. That was proven against Club Brugge and other games in the past such as West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea last season.
His 194cm height made him a sure winner in aerial duels. Van Gaal knows this and would have Fellaini create havoc in the opponents’ defence by pumping long balls to the penalty area. The fans seem to quickly forget about the old “lampost” and welcomed the new “battering ram”.
With more signings arriving this summer. Fellaini’s place in the team is by no mean guaranteed. But now Manchester United have one foot in the Champions League group stage, the manager will need all his players fit and competing for a place in the starting XI. The man with the afro hair would surely be there to relish the challenge.