The Belgian was introduced after 55 minutes, just after a rampant Madrid doubled their lead, and played a part in Romelu Lukaku’s goal as United started to press Madrid during the latter stages.
He was a bustling, physically imposing force, bringing Man United further up the pitch with his immense control, that Madrid’s back four clearly didn’t enjoy dealing with.
And Mourinho, speaking after the game, was quick to point out the way in which Fellaini changed the complexion of the clash.
“Fantastic, and Marouane is just an example of that group and spirit,” he said. “We were losing 2-0 to a fantastic team and we go for the 2-1 and Marouane is injured and then we miss the Rashford chance with the keeper, we fought until Cristiano got onto the pitch.”
“We lost a game, a cup, but we didn’t lose the season. Our season starts Sunday for us.”
There is something about Fellaini’s presence on the pitch that unsettles teams. I mean, how do you prepare for playing against him? His style is so unique, so inextricably Fellaini, that any conventional means of strategic planning feels amiss.
And it was there to see against Madrid. Criticise United for getting through three managers and still, as a last resort, lumping balls to the Belgian, but it put the La Liga champions on edge.
Mourinho wants him at Old Trafford next season and you can see why. The midfielder unreservedly commits himself to the cause every week and makes a notable difference when used in the right way.