Marouane Fellaini praises Jose Mourinho for protecting him in "difficult times"

Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini has stated his thanks to manager José Mourinho for protecting him through "difficult times" this season.

Mourinho gave Fellaini confidence

It has been a tough time for Fellaini at Old Trafford, having been heavily scrutinised after his deadline day move from Everton in the summer of 2013.

He has been a bit-part player under Mourinho, with poor performances against the likes of his former club not helping his case for a regular start under the Portuguese manager.

It is clear that Mourinho prefers the likes of Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera and Michael Carrick, but the Belgian showed faith in the coach and thanked him for protecting him from scrutiny.

"In May, he called me to tell me he was counting on me," Fellaini told the Daily Mail. "From the start, he gave me confidence."

"I have always had a very good relationship with him," the Belgian stated about the coach. "After my goal against Hull I went to him to thank him because he had protected me in difficult times."

"He's a winner who has won trophies everywhere," the midfielder stressed. "I have a great relationship with him."

"I try to apply what he tells me," the 29-year-old admitted. "Mourinho knows my qualities, where I can be a threat or where I can be important."

"Am I his Special One?," Fellaini added. "I'm there for the team, I am a team player."

The man to thank

One man who hasn't been subjected to cameo appearances is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, with the Swede becoming the talisman of the side since his free transfer this summer.

The Swede has stepped up with an astonishing 26 goals, including a brace in Sunday's 3-2 EFL Cup win over Southampton and Fellaini stated his importance to the club.

"We can thank Zlatan because he's there at the right moment," Fellaini said. "He scores goals," .