Marouane Fellaini may have only featured for the last 21 minutes of Manchester United’s Champions League clash with Young Boys, but it was enough to showcase his importance to the cause.
The Belgian midfielder has divided opinion ever since he arrived at Old Trafford. However on Wednesday he carried on where he left off against Watford.
Fellaini was brilliant against the Hornets, and he was equally good against Young Boys, stamping out their attacking threat.
United were 3-0 up when Fellaini came on, but he showed enough to suggest he could be vital to the European cause. Time and again he snuffed out Young Boys’ attacks and set United on fresh ones.
There are far tougher challenges to come and United will need Fellaini’s physicality against Valencia and Juventus.
That may not be from the start, with Fred impressing alongside Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba. But, if United have a narrow lead heading into the final few minutes, expect Fellaini to arrive and do what he does best.
It is easy to call the United midfielder an unwanted Plan B; a target for long-balls when they are searching for a late goal. Yet there is another side to his game too often overlooked.
Fellaini gets stuck in and offers an additional barrier to his own goal and he does it well.
It is for that reason, among others, that Jose Mourinho fought so hard to keep him at the club. After all, a new contract appears to have ushered in a new Fellaini.
If United are to impress in Europe this season, they will need to take the chances that come their way. But they will also need to hold firm for those final few minutes when a game is on a knife-edge.
In those moments, expect Fellaini to shine.