Facing FA Cup elimination at Preston, Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal performed some emergency tactical surgery to salvage the tie.
The Reds were 1-0 down after Scott Laird’s deflected strike in the 47th-minute, but an impromptu reshuffle from the bench, in which Radamel Falcao was withdrawn for Ashley Young, catering for Marouane Fellaini to be moved up the pitch, allowed the visitors to claim a 3-1 win.
Re-housing the Belgian battering ram midway through the match is a plan B Van Gaal has deployed regularly in recent weeks, with the ploy often reaping rewards.
Whether he’s repositioned or not, Fellaini’s inclusion has frequently accompanied Man Utd success this season.
The former Everton beanpole has started 11 matches in 2014/15 and has ended up on the losing side just once.
This solitary setback, a 1-0 derby reverse at Manchester City, is mitigated by Chris Smalling’s dismissal after 39 minutes.
No such misfortune has befouled the Red Devils in the other ten matches to feature Fellaini from the start and eight wins have been recorded.
A 1-1 draw with Chelsea followed his first inclusion in the starting XI of the campaign, which represented only the second domestic instance in which the Blues didn’t win this term.
The 27-year-old has had an impact when unfurled from the bench too.
He has bagged twice when making a late arrival to the action, the first in a 2-2 draw at West Brom and the opener of a 2-0 triumph over QPR, to help the 13-time Premier League champions garner four additional points.
Developing a reputation as something of a rabbit’s foot, Fellaini is performing a similar role to that of stricken Michael Carrick earlier in the campaign.
The midfielder’s return to the starting line up sparked a six-match winning run for his side.
Only once in 13 this term – the 1-0 loss at home to Southampton – has Carrick begun a match that ended with Van Gaal’s side relinquishing the spoils.
The good fortune Fellaini has brought about overlapped that which the Geordie pass master instilled, but in his injury absence his Belgian counterpart is maintaining the hot streak by himself.
It’s 7/2 that the he bags at any time against Swansea next.