Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho's backing is the main reason for Marouane Fellaini's improved form this season, according to the Red Devils' treble-winning star Ronny Johnsen.

The Belgium international is in his final year of contract at Old Trafford. Earlier in the summer transfer window, Galatasaray were keen on securing his services and even confirmed their interest in signing him.

However, Mourinho refused to sanction the sale of Fellaini, despite firm interest from the Turkish outfit. This season, he has scored four goals in eight appearances in all competitions, out of which he only started in three matches.

Fellaini suffered a knee injury while on international duty with Belgium. Johnsen has advised the former Real Madrid and Chelsea manager the play the 29-year-old higher up the pitch as he believes the midfielder can be a threat for opposition inside their box.

"Most important for a player is the backing of his manager. If you have the backing of a manager, sometimes it can get to you, but as long as you have the backing, you can go out there and perform. Fellaini is one, who doesn't fall into that category," Johnsen told while speaking exclusively to IBTimes UK.

"I think he plays sometimes too deep, but his potential is further up the pitch. It is easier for him to get into the boxes, which I feel he should be doing more. When the ball goes wide, he should be in the box. He has some qualities, which is rare and you can see it is coming through."

Johnsen also heaped praise on 19-year-old Marcus Rashford. The former Norwegian player is delighted to see the teenager come up through the ranks of United's youth system and become a first-team regular.

"I think everyone's seen him coming up at United. This is a kid with special possibilities. One of his strengths is to go out there and do what he is best at and never feel the pressure. He's young, never scared to try," he explained.

"When he first came in, he tasted it and you can feel that. As a youth coming into the team, you felt that he has the potential to [become a top player]. He's very quick. He's also in the England national team as well.

"It's all about attitude and knows everything about the club. It's really nice to see and also important for the club to have a youth come into the club and break into the first team."

Ronny Johnsen
Ronny Johnsen has hailed Marcus Rashford's attitude IBTimes UK/Naveen Ullal