The Belgian once again found himself on the receiving end of a barrage of criticism following his shambolic substitute appearance during Man United’s 1-1 draw at Goodison Park in December, with many supporters calling for the midfielder’s exclusion from the side.
But Mourinho continued to place his faith in Fellaini over the following weeks and found himself duly rewarded through the 29-year-old’s crucial goal against Hull City in the League Cup semi final.
And Fellaini, speaking ahead of United’s Europa League clash with FC Rostov, was quick to express his gratitude towards the 54-year-old.
“I think Mourinho is a good human being. If you work hard, he’ll never drop you. He protected me. I’ll never forget that.”
“Van Gaal told me you don’t have to leave, but you won’t be 1st, 2nd or 3rd choice. In a few weeks time I made him change his mind.”
Fellaini: "I think Mourinho is a good human being. If you work hard, he'll never drop you. He protected me. I'll never forget that." (S/VM) pic.twitter.com/rES8aP4i3k
— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) March 8, 2017
Nobody would have blamed Mourinho for forcing Fellaini to pack his bags and leave over the January transfer window. The Belgian has served as more of a scourge than a benefit to this side in the past year, and that error against Everton was the last straw for many people.
But the Portuguese was bold. He went against the prevailing agenda towards Fellaini and made it clear to the Belgian that, as long as he worked hard, places in the starting XI would be available over the next few months. Such a gesture would have been salutary for the midfielder, and the fact that he ran straight to Mourinho after his goal against Hull was indeed a visual illustration of a player thanking his manager for continuing to have faith in his abilities.