Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has leapt to the defence of Marouane Fellaini after the midfielder was jeered as he was substituted during the FA Cup draw with West Ham United.
Fellaini, who returned from injury mid-week in the Europa League defeat to Liverpool, started again as United hosted Slaven Bilic's side in their FA Cup quarter-final clash. With his side chasing an equaliser after Dimitri Payet's wonderful free kick, the Belgium international was replaced on 76 minutes by Bastian Schweinsteiger, with sections of the Old Trafford crowd cheering the decision to take him off.
Speaking after the 1-1 draw, forced by Anthony Martial's late equaliser, van Gaal explained he was disappointed with the reaction of the home supporters, insisting Fellaini's performance did not merit such a poor response.
"I think [Marouane] Fellaini played, again, a good match," van Gaal told United's official website. "He performed well in our game-plan so that [the crowd reaction] was disappointing but it was the only moment that I was disappointed. The fans were supporting our side in spite of two losses this week. Maybe they have another opinion to me."
West Ham took the lead after 68 minutes through Payet's wonderful effort but the playmaker was perhaps lucky to still be on the pitch, after he was penalised for diving having already been shown a yellow card.
It was one of a number of controversial moments in the match with United's own equaliser coming under scrutiny after Schweinsteiger appeared to block Hammers goalkeeper Darren Randolph as Martial shot for goal.
"I have seen the video, of course, and I think Schweinsteiger gets a push from a defender so he did not do it deliberately [impede goalkeeper Darren Randolph," van Gaal said. "Payet was, more or less, diving. Of course, he was maybe touched but not to fall like that. There is always discussion about the decisions of the referee. You can also say that about the game against Liverpool. I cannot say anything. I think the referee has to decide within seconds. I said that after the game against Liverpool and now it's the same."