David Moyes has praised Marouane Fellaini for his contribution to the Everton cause this season but stressed that any success the Toffees achieve is down to the team ethic, rather than one individual player.
“Marouane was only part of a team that won against Manchester United, he scored the goal but we have to remember what the other players did,” Moyes said. “He is a big part of our squad not only because of his size but also because of how important he is to us and he is someone that we will be more than happy to see here again next year at Goodison.”
Fellaini bullied United into submission in a role off the lone centre-forward, a position he made his own for much of the season, but recent games have seen the 25-year-old revert to a more orthodox midfield spot. Moyes believes that Fellaini is equally adept at either station, but has been thankful for the attacking impact Fellaini has made, scoring 12 goals.
“He is a good player in either role and is capable of doing both,” Moyes said. “For long parts of this season we have played him a bit further forward but recently he has dropped back a little.
“I think as he matures he might grow into a deeper role but currently he does give us a different attacking option and has scored quite a few goals so we have been happy with him playing further forward this season.
Speculation will continue around Fellaini’s future, however, but if Moyes is forced to do without one of his stars, he insists he will have no hesitation turning to Everton’s prolific academy to fill the void if he sees a young player up to scratch.
Everton have in recent years produced the likes of Michael Ball, Francis Jeffers and Richard Dunne, who all came to prominence under Moyes’ predecessor Walter Smith, while Moyes’ time at the club has seen Wayne Rooney, Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman break into the first team, with the latter pair still part of Moyes’ squad.
“The key is always that you have an academy which is trying to develop and bring through as many of your own local boys as possible,” Moyes said. “That has tended to be where we have done well in finding some good local talent and with us having a small squad it means we give them a chance sooner than some other clubs. I am great believer in giving young boys opportunities, if they are doing well I will always try and put them in the team and give them a chance.”
The latest name to break through Everton’s youth set-up is Ross Barkley, the midfielder who earned praise for his showing in the goalless draw at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. Barkley has recovered from breaking his leg in three places in October 2010 to reach the fringes of the Everton first team, a factor that has led Moyes to introduce Barkley slowly, twice sending him out on loan this season.
Moyes continued: “There is expectation around him and there has been a lot of talk but he has missed a lot of football through injury. We have to manage him correctly and give him time. We sent him out on loan to get experience and we will use him when feel it is the right moment to put him into the team.”
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