After years of watching Marouane Fellaini line up on the wrong side of Merseyside and Manchester United-Liverpool derbies, Liverpool supporters know better than most how much the tall Belgian likes to throw around his elbows. Following a particularly nasty incident involving Emre Can at the end of the first Europa League leg, criticism of Fellaini's physical play has increased.
The Manchester United midfielder decided to take to the media to respond to these accusations. His response is likely to only further anger his harshest critics.
"The last few games, they talk about elbows but I don't do it purpose. I look at the ball, not my opponent. I don't want to elbow someone, there is no point. I just protect myself. Sometimes I have two or three players around me, grabbing me.
"I jumped against Liverpool with Firmino and he said I give him an elbow. Why would I give an elbow to him? I know I will win the ball because of my size. Against Andy Carroll it would be more difficult, but I don't need to elbow Firmino."
Of course, no one was talking about the incident with Firmino, which might have been accidental. The elbow to Can's face, however, was nowhere near the play, and almost certainly wasn't an accident. Judging by his statements, Fellaini seems completely baffled as to why people would be so upset at his elbow-centric playing style.
"There seems to be a fixation on me now. Why should I change my game if I don't even get a yellow card? I go home and I say to my brother or someone ‘why didn't he book me then?' Because they know and people don't talk about players grabbing me or trying to stop me. Why?
"I get lots of fouls on me, but it is no foul because I am physical. Because I don't go down, that is the problem as well. But I will keep playing my game. Why would I change? It's my game."
Well yes, Marouane, generally players don't get cards when they know the referees are looking the other way. That said, he does raise a good point about not needing to change his style of play. For years he has gotten away with countless elbows on aerial challenges, rash tackles, and other examples of rough play. So yes, why would he change his game?