Marouane Fellaini’s last game for Manchester United did not end as he would have hoped.
In his first match against his former side Everton, he would have been hoping to impose himself on the game, proving to any doubters that the £27.5million the Toffees banked for him was in fact money well spent by the champions.
While United lost to a late Everton goal, United fans – or at least some of them – believed the Belgian showed glimpses of the quality defensive midfielder he has aspirations to be.
Others were less convinced, but it still came as something of a shock when Fellaini was not even on the bench for today’s match against Newcastle United.
Instead he spent the game in the stands, ridiculed by some on social media sites for checking his phone when he should have been watching his teammates.
Of the copious tweets about Fellaini in the first-half alone, some joked that he was texting Roberto Martinez to ask for a Goodison Park return, while others said he should have been paying attention to Phil Jones in the hope of both learning from and ultimately usurping him.
But either way, David Moyes’ decision to leave Fellaini out of his match-day squad was a huge one – given that the likes of Anderson and Ashley Young were on the bench if not (if reports are to believed) in the manager’s long-term plans.
Moyes has since confirmed that the midfielder missed the game with a bruised back, but more than a few fans may wonder if it really was that simple given Fellaini's form to date.
While United staff continue to stress that Fellaini will come good, and that it takes time for players to settle at Old Trafford, Moyes knows the midfielder better than most, and he will surely be worried that a player who was so dominant for Everton appears lost in the maelstrom of United’s midfield.
Yes, he is playing in a different position, but since his very promising full-debut against Bayer Leverkusen, Fellaini has gone backwards…quickly.
The player may really have been unfit to play this afternoon. Then again, Moyes may have decided to take the player out of the firing-line or, perhaps, realised that this version of Fellaini is not one he can afford to choose given his side’s current form and need for a string of victories.
But in the end, United lost anyway, and rightly or wrongly, January cannot come soon enough.