Marouane Fellaini’s first season as a Manchester United player did not go according to plan for the Belgian international.
Having arrived in a £27.5million deal on transfer deadline day, the former Everton player struggled to impose himself at Old Trafford and was used as a scapegoat for fans frustrated by David Moyes’ tenure.
Such was the drop in Fellaini’s stock that many expected him to leave United soon after Louis van Gaal’s arrival, but in fact a player deemed not good enough by some has gone on to prove himself anything but under the Dutchman’s tutelage.
In fact, it could even be argued that Fellaini is now vital to this United side.
To emphasise that point one need only take a look at United’s recent six-game winning streak that hinted they could be unlikely title challengers in 2015.
United defeated Crystal Palace, Arsenal, Hull City, Stoke City, Southampton and Liverpool and on all six occasions Fellaini was in the starting line-up.
Not only that, he played every single minute of every single match, even scoring a vital goal in the 2-1 win against Stoke.
Injury meant Fellaini sat out the next four league matches, in which time United drew three times and won only once.
He would start the next match – at home to Southampton – on the substitutes’ bench, appearing for the last 14 minutes, too late to prevent United from losing 1-0.
So what happens when he is given more time – sent on at the interval against Queens Park Rangers? He scores of course, and helps United to a clean-sheet and a much-needed victory.
It would have been impossible to think it last season, but now Fellaini is a very important player for United, a man who has clearly benefited from van Gaal’s presence and one whose own presence in the starting line-up should now be hailed rather than bemoaned.