Manchester United were already big underdogs going into their FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea.
With Antonio Conte’s side flying at the top of the Premier League and Jose Mourinho already indicating that the FA Cup is not among his priorities, many people had already written off the Red Devils’ chances of getting a result at Stamford Bridge.
Then the news broke that every single one of United’s first-team strikers is unavailable for the televised match. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is suspended, Marcus Rashford is ill and both Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial are injured.
Which has left many fans, experts and onlookers coming to the barely believable conclusion that Marouane Fellaini may be set to start as United’s lone striker against Chelsea.
In truth, the Belgian midfielder has been used as a striker on several occasions in the past.
However, chucking the big lad up front for the last few minutes of a match is one thing. Starting him there in a big game against massive opponents is something else altogether.
That is why the very idea of Fellaini playing as a forward for Man United has caused quite a stir. In fact, looking at how the suggestion has been received on social media, we can pretty much figure out how United supporters will react if the man with the hair is indeed named as their centre-forward…
“How can this be? How is it that Manchester United; the Manchester United I love; the Manchester United of Charlton, Cantona, Law, Cole & Yorke, Rooney, van Nistelrooy and van Persie has been reduced to playing Marouane Fellaini as a striker?
“How has it come to this? After decades of wonderful, world class centre-forwards finishing off flowing, pacey moves, how is it that we now have Marouane Fellaini – all flailing elbows and useless flick-ons – lumbering around, trying to get the better of one of the finest defences in England?
“This cannot be happening…”
“Damn you for doing this to us, Mourinho. Damn you to hell.
“You may well be missing four strikers, but that is no excuse.
“You COULD play Henrikh Mkhitarayn up front. You COULD use him as a false nine and try to play some sexy stuff, in the classic United tradition.
“But no, you’re going to have us lump it to the big man. Just as I was beginning to think you weren’t the new Louis van Gaal…”
“My God, this is going to be embarrassing. We got battered 4-0 last time we played at Stamford Bridge.
“I could deal with us losing – but losing while we play Tony Pulis’ favourite style of football in front of an audience of millions?
“Kill me now.”
“You know what? Maybe it’s actually for the best.
“Everyone who has gone to Chelsea and played their normal game has got battered. Maybe, just maybe, by doing something a bit different and unexpected, we might upset them. Maybe Fellaini will ruffle David Luiz and make him rubbish again. Maybe they will be so baffled, we will catch them offguard.”
“Plus, there was that time that Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher played in defence – and that was back in the Fergie days, when were the best team in the land.
“Maybe. Just maybe.”
“Ah, well – we’re better off concentrating on the Europa League anyway…”