Juan Mata believes dark clouds have dispersed for Marouane Fellani at Manchester United
Juan Mata is hoping Marouane Fellaini can finally disperse the dark clouds hanging over him at Manchester United after revealing the Belgium international had been in danger of being crushed by criticism this season.
Fellaini scored a crucial second goal in United’s 2-0 win over Hull City in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final and ran half the length of the pitch to celebrate with manager Jose Mourinho.
It was a sudden release of emotion and a sign of the pressure Fellaini has been under at Old Trafford, where he has lost his place in the team and even suffered the indignity and embarrassment of being booed by his own supporters.
But Mata, who scored United’s opening goal on Tuesday night, believes his late header - and more importantly the reaction to it - will be a turning point for the former Everton player.
“Maybe Marouane feels that the manager has belief in him and that is why he celebrated like that,” said Mata, ahead of this weekend’s fascinating Premier League collision with Liverpool.
“I am very happy for Marouane because he has had difficult times since he came to the club. But he is a great guy. He is a great person. He trains always the best he can. I am delighted for him.
“It was an important goal for him, and when you come onto the pitch in the second half, you are always trying to do something to change the game and he did that.
“I think this will be a boost for his confidence. It was good to hear the stadium singing his name because he deserved it.
“He is a strong man with experience. He is not a young player. He is 29 so he has lived so many things in football but it is not nice when you play in your own stadium and you have not the best atmosphere. But now it is different and it has changed. I think it is going to be positive for him in the future.”
There have been suggestions Mourinho will look to sell Fellaini in the summer, but the Portuguese has always tried to protect his players from criticism, even if it comes from some of their own supporters.
That has always been a strength of Mourinho’s management and Mata pointed out that Fellaini had also retained the affection of his teammates during his troubles.
“He always gets on very well with everyone,” added Mata. “Since I came here, he was a good friend of mine and everyone in the dressing room.
“Everybody was happy for his goal. When a team-mate is not in the best situation and it is difficult for him we have to be there to support him.
“It makes it easier for you as a player when you feel the confidence of everyone. You feel an even better player. Confidence is very important for any player and hopefully Marouane now has his back.”