The Belgian has come on as a substitute for Man United’s opening three games of the season and scored United’s second against Leicester City.
But he was not included in Mourinho’s match-day squad for the trip to Stoke after picking up a niggle over the international break.
And the 54-year-old, speaking after the game, was quick to note that Fellaini’s physical presence could have been salutary against Mark Hughes’ side.
#MUFC boss José Mourinho says "it was a game for Fellaini, if he plays we are more dominant at set pieces".
— ᗷIᒪᒪ ᖇIᑕᕮ ???????? (@billrice23) September 9, 2017
Ander Herrera‘s inclusion made sense when the teams were announced. Mourinho needed more legs, it seemed, against a quick and efficient Stoke City, but in practice his role was unclear.
This was, like predicted, a furiously paced encounter, but perhaps not in the way supporters expected: the home side opted for a notably aerial route and placed emphasis on harassing United physically Herrera, scampering across the turf, looked lost.
Fellaini, on the other hand, would have looked right at home, barging defenders out the way and acting as an outboard to bring the ball forward quickly. And as United piled into the box late on, you couldn’t help but picture in vein that big afro latching onto a cross.