Jose Mourinho struggled to recall a bad Marouane Fellaini performance for Manchester United when prompted.
Fellaini starred on United’s return to the Champions League on Tuesday, helping brush aside Basel 3-0.
The Belgian scored and proved himself to be one of his manager’s most vital disciples with another fine display.
Fellaini has been much improved since Mourinho was appointed as Louis van Gaal’s replacement in summer 2016, having struggled under both the Dutchman and David Moyes.
Mourinho went as far as to claim that Fellaini’s last bad performance in a United shirt came against Everton last December, when the Belgian conceded a late penalty against his former side.
“To remember a Fellaini bad performance I have to go back to last season, in the beginning, and it wasn’t just a bad one, it was just a naive mistake in the last minute at Goodison Park,” Mourinho said.
“Whether he starts or on the bench he’s a very important player for us.”