Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini believes he was made the scapegoat for the team’s torrid time under former manager David Moyes in the Premier League last season.
Fellaini, who moved to Old Trafford from Everton for 27.5 million pounds ($43.6 million) last year, endured a difficult first season at United, hampered by injuries and poor form.
He was bought to United by former Everton boss Moyes, who lasted 10 months at the helm of the 20-times English champions before he was sacked. The team finished seventh in the league.
Asked if he felt he was made a scapegoat after United’s worst performance in the Premier League, Fellaini told reporters: “Yes, a little bit.
“I didn’t lose faith in myself. In football you have to be strong in the head. The mentality is important and I do have this quality so I can keep going.
“My family helped me through it. I was also in the national team for Belgium at the World Cup and I played well and the team also played well. For my confidence that was important. I came back after the summer confident.”
United have also struggled under Moyes’s successor Louis Van Gaal with the club currently seventh in the league with 16 points from 11 games, but Fellaini has thrived during a recent run in the team.
The 26-year-old returned from injury to come off the bench and score his first goal for the club in the 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion in October and followed that with impressive performances against Chelsea and Manchester City.
The towering Belgian says staying injury-free and playing in a more advanced position than the holding midfield role he was used in last year have helped him have a growing influence.
“I have worked hard and will work hard to play every game,” Fellaini said.
“I am fit now and that is why I am better. When I am super fit I will be better I am sure. I was injured earlier this season, they said I had to have surgery but I didn’t. It was a bad injury but now I am better and I can look forward.
“At the moment the manager is using me as a box-to-box player and I am trying to score a goal.”