Manchester United manager David Moyes insists he will get the best out of Marouane Fellaini.
The £27.5 million (€32m) midfielder has endured a disappointing first few months at Old Trafford. He is still to score for his new club, has struggled with a wrist injury for the past couple of months and thanks to a separate back problem that did not clear up as anticipated, is now facing up to six weeks on the sidelines after surgery.
Little wonder most United fans are distinctly underwhelmed by the 26-year-old’s contribution to the United cause.
However, Moyes remains totally confident Fellaini will eventually prove why the Scot was so keen to get him out of Everton following his own exit from Goodison Park in the summer.
“I have no doubt he will eventually be a good player for us,” said Moyes.
“He has been unlucky. He has not felt 100% because of his wrist and has been finding it difficult.
“I asked him to see if he could get over the Christmas period. He got the back injury against Everton and since then he has never really been right.”
It means Fellaini, who has already sat out five matches, will miss up to seven more Premier League games, including the trip to Chelsea on January 19.
In addition, the Belgium international will also be sidelined for both legs of the Capital One Cup semi-final with Sunderland, plus the first two rounds of the FA Cup.
Crucially though, Fellaini will be available on February 25, when United recommence their Champions League quest against Olympiacos.
The same is also true of Michael Carrick and Robin van Persie, who are much further down the road to recovery from their respective Achilles and thigh injuries.
Moyes has already stated he expects Carrick to be available for the New Year’s Day visit of the midfielder’s old club Tottenham, although he raised the possibility of an even quicker return in a rather cryptic answer to a question about the pair’s fitness ahead of the St Stephen’s Day trip to Hull.
“This is the time when miracles happen,” said Moyes.
“Let us hope there is one for Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick.”
Victory at the KC Stadium would represent a fifth straight triumph for the first time under Moyes.
It would represent an outstanding recovery from those tepid home defeats to Everton and Newcastle, even if Moyes continues to insist United did not deserve the eventual outcome in either contest.
Nevertheless, in a season he has repeatedly stated is one of transition, Moyes should be grateful for the form reversal, even if he knows at a club like United, four or five positive results in a row are regarded as routine rather than anything worthy of congratulation.
“A fortnight is not long enough at this club,” he said. “It has to be for years. That is what the previous regime did. They won games for years and years.
“My plan is to do that as well.”
Another man looking to make an impression on St Stephen’s Day is Hull defender James Chester.
He was on the books at Old Trafford as a youth but the closest he ever got to the first team was a second-half substitute appearance in a League Cup semi-final against Derby.
Loan spells at Peterborough, Plymouth and Carlisle gave him a taste for competitive football and in January 2011 he signed for the Tigers.
The 24-year-old was an instant success in east Yorkshire and was a major reason for the club’s unexpected promotion to the top flight last season.
“Manchester United was the fixture I looked for when the games came out at the start of the season,” he said.
“Perhaps I have a little bit of point to prove but I don’t hold any grudges and I am very thankful for the 10 or 11 years they gave me. But it would be nice to show people how I have done. Getting into the Premier League was my first aim and I want to stay here now.”
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