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Man United midfielder Marouane Fellaini refutes 'thug' claim

Marouane Fellaini in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and West Ham United
Image: Marouane Fellaini has been criticised for his physical approach

Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini has defended himself in the wake of being branded a "thug" by former referee Howard Webb.

The 2010 World Cup referee was disappointed with Fellaini's actions in Manchester United's Europa League defeat to Liverpool as he courted controversy in both legs for his overly physical approach.

In the first leg at Anfield he appeared to catch Emre Can with an elbow - though avoided any action from UEFA - and then in the second leg on Thursday he was booked for making contact with Dejan Lovren with a flailing arm.

"It's one thing imposing yourself on the game, but another thing being a thug on the pitch," Webb told the Daily Telegraph. 

"Week in, week out, he can't get through a game without violently throwing his arm into people's faces.

"He should have been sent off, pure and simple. He gets away with it week in, week out - I think people are getting a little bit fed up of it."

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 10:  Marouane Fellaini of Manchester United in action with Emre Can of Liverpool
Image: Fellaini tussles with Emre Can during the first leg of the Europa league tie

Fellaini accepts he is physical but insists he is not "dirty", adding the demands of the English game warrants the way he plays.

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"I don't want to elbow someone, I just defend myself," Fellaini told the BBC. "Okay, I am physical, I like to win my challenge but I am not a dirty player.

"I like to win my challenge when I play a game. In England there are a lot of physical challenges so if you want to win the game you have to be aggressive and win your challenge.

"I never want to injure a player or to be bad, I am not like that, I just defend myself."

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