Belfast Telegraph

Biting back: Marouane Fellaini now at Manchester United for the long haul

By Stuart McKinley

When Louis van Gaal arrived at Manchester United the fans waited for him to clear the decks and begin to rebuild a squad that was in serious need of a makeover.

The discussions on which players he would let go raged every bit as much as the chatter over who he had targeted to bring in.

One name high on many people's departure list was that of Marouane Fellaini.

Even David Moyes, who had got so much out of the Belgian at Everton, couldn't work out where best to use him in the United team and it seemed certain that at £27.5m he was going to be an expensive Old Trafford flop.

Although he came off the bench to score in a pre-season friendly against Valencia, most thought his time was up.

How wrong those who made such rash judgements based on a single injury-hit season at Old Trafford were.

Van Gaal had other ideas and Fellaini's ability to operate as a shield for the back four or a foil for the strikers made him a perfect fit for the new boss.

His goal against Stoke on Tuesday night - Fellaini's first in competitive action at Old Trafford - topped off a string of commanding displays of late and it looks like he's in for the long haul.

United fans would do well to remember one other expensive six-foot plus signing who didn't quite sparkle in his early days at Old Trafford.

After a shocking debut many wrote off Gary Pallister, who cost £2.3m in 1989 - a whopping sum at the time.

With four Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a European Cup Winner's Cup medal in his collection, Pallister didn't turn out to be that bad a signing after all.

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