After completing a deadline day transfer from Everton with just minutes to spare, the club came under immediate scrutiny for "overpaying" for their target.
The BBC confirmed the Belgian had a £23.5 million release clause inserted into his Toffees contract that expired on July 31, but no club came in to pay the fee. Roberto Martinez admitted to celebrating, then proceeded to plan for the season under the assumption Fellaini was part of his squad.
Whether it was due to missing out on all other targets or just bad planning, David Moyes eventually swooped for his former charge at the last second and paid what The Guardian believe to be £27.5 million—£4 million more than they would have paid had they acted a month sooner.
Target acquired, but in all the wrong circumstances.
The nature of the transfer brought about a black cloud over Fellaini's head. Before he'd even kicked a ball, he was the desperation buy, the overpriced lump who'd been replaced by James McCarthy with ease.
The fact that the Belgian is an excellent, near-world-class player was then somehow lost in the mail. It became popular to bash Fellaini, with tweets such as this severely devaluing his talent. Proponents of his skill level were fast becoming drowned out.
Tuesday night's debacle at Anoeta is perhaps a marquee performance for all the wrong reasons.
Fellaini played rather well for 89 minutes against Real Sociedad, executing tackles and passing well in the heart of Moyes' midfield, but accumulated five petty fouls and got sent off for two yellow cards.
Throughout the game, he couldn't keep his elbows to himself. That's not a new element to his game, either.
It's a new low for the £27.5 million man, who has disappointed for a certifiable portion of each of his starts so far in red and black. He was taken to pieces at the Etihad Stadium by a rampant Manchester City, and admitted to The Express that training is harder at Old Trafford than it was at Goodison Park.
Right now, there are thousands of United fans who wish to see him exiled just as badly as they do Ashley Young for his dive on the same evening, but that's not the right stance to take.
Fellaini is a world-class player once he gets going, and although the slow start is a little questionable considering the time he's spent in England, this is not the level he'll continue at for long.
He's shaking off a little rustiness after playing as a support striker for a full season at Everton last season, and it won't take long for him to settle back into his preferred, regular role. With unrivaled size, he's unstoppable in his groove—the problem is, he's yet to find that groove in Manchester United colours.
Remember the immovable force that was Fellaini in an Everton shirt? He's a mismatch for anyone, and even paralleled Yaya Toure in terms of physical ability last season.
Give him time, lend him patience: He'll reward you handsomely, and he is the right man for Moyes' midfield.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!