Was this Moyes’ greatest gift to Everton?

11 years: that’s how long David Moyes spent at Everton. 11 years of overachievement. Ok, so there was that one where they finished 17th. But everyone’s allowed one, right?

Moyes was the Arsene Wenger of the mid-table. Operating on a shoestring and still achieving success. Well, qualified success. 4th was more than a ‘trophy’ for Everton. 4th was as good as a treble. A challenge for European qualification was the proverbial silverware. And on this criteria, Moyes was a well decorated manager.

However, if Roberto Martinez is successful in leading Everton into the Champions League, it may just be that the best thing that David Moyes did for Everton came about after he left the club.

Marouane Fellaini was a panic buy for Manchester United. It wasn’t so much a ‘roll of the dice’ as a nervous spasm. They needed a midfielder. They needed to do something. But they didn’t need Marouane Fellaini.

And neither did Everton. But they did need £27.5m. With this money, the Merseyside club were able to acquire the services of three players who have dramatically improved their team, and lost one, who with the benefit of hindsight, would seem to have had no place in the side.

Marouane Fellaini is not a great footballer. But he can be a very effective one. When employed in the ‘battering ram No. 10’ role that David Moyes created for him, Fellaini can wreak havoc. But in order for the Belgian to do so, the team must take a direct approach.

Such a style is the opposite to that of Roberto Martinez’ teams. The current Everton manager was integral in establishing the possession-based game that Swansea still employ and insisted on keeping it on the ground at Wigan, even when a more pragmatic approach would have perhaps been wiser.

Despite the Spanish manager repeatedly expressing his desperation to keep Fellaini last summer, it’s hard to see how the Belgian would have fitted into his team. Martinez could have moved Fellaini back into the defensive midfield role that operated in for Standard Liege, but it’s unlikely he would have got much more out of him in this position than David Moyes is getting at Manchester United right now.

By cashing in on Fellaini, Martinez was able to bring in two midfielders, James McCarthy for keeps and Gareth Barry on loan, who were better suited to the style of football that the manager wanted to play. Both have thrived under the Spaniard, and it’s hard to imagine Fellaini being able to do as good a job as either in their positions.

But the Fellaini transfer not only improved Everton’s midfield, but their strike force as well. Selling Fellaini for £27.5m facilitated the loan of Romelu Lukaku. And his fellow Belgian has arguably been Everton’s player of the season.

Lukaku has scored 13 in his 26 league appearances, meeting the gold standard ‘1 in 2’ that is required of any top striker. But the forward has also managed to assist another 6 goals, giving him the joint 6th highest amount in the Premier League, along with players more renowned for creativity, such as Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho.

In bringing Marouane Fellaini with him to Manchester United, David Moyes relieved Roberto Martinez of a player that he would have struggled to find use for, and allowed his successor to bring in another three that directly improved the team.

While the defensive structure and scouting network built by David Moyes at Everton are worthy of consideration, if Martinez manages to lead the Toffees into the Champions League, it may just be that taking Fellaini off their hands was the greatest single thing that David Moyes did for the club.

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