Everton 3 Stoke 1: Moyes tips 'enforcer' Fellaini for Keane role

Marouane Fellaini's new look may have proved little more than an optical illusion, but there was no mistaking the impact David Moyes expects him to make over the next few years.

With Stoke followers belting out their customary rendition of Delilah, the rest of a capacity crowd could have been forgiven for recalling Samson's downfall when Fellaini took the field with his locks evidently shorn.

Marouane Fellaini

Hair style: Marouane Fellaini fires home the killer third goal for Everton against Stoke, having displayed his new look at Goodison Park (below).

Marouane Fellaini

They need not have worried. The new slicked-back, plaited style was achieved without a single frizzy strand being sacrificed and his renowned physical powers showed no sign of waning as he forced home an injury-time shot.

Fellaini has scored his fair share of important goals since arriving in the Barclays Premier League last summer but Moyes has a change of direction in mind for his £15million record signing from Standard Liege.

In much the same way as Roy Keane proved such a pivotal figure for Manchester United and Patrick Vieira anchored Arsenal's midfield, Fellaini is being backed to emerge as Everton's midfield enforcer.

Reflecting on the way Keane used to drive United on, Moyes - celebrating seven years as Everton manager - said: 'In time, Felli can have that sort of influence on our fortunes. His English is improving and he is a conscientious boy who wants to work at his game.

'I hope his development goes a stage further next season and I can see it taking him into a deeper role. Overall, he has had a really good first season in the Premier League, especially as he is only 21.


Little and Large: Jo (right) celebrates with Steven Pienaar after giving Everton the lead.

'He was used in front of the other midfielders at Standard, affecting things in the box in a similar way to Tim Cahill, and it is often the same for Belgium. But I see him stepping further back for us in time.

'The new look was something else though, eh? It has provoked a fair bit of comment but apparently he didn't need his hair cutting at all.'

If Stoke manager Tony Pulis was unhappy at Joleon Lescott's close-range finish being allowed to stand just seven minutes after Jo fired an 18th-minute opener under keeper Thomas Sorensen, he found his side's general first-half lethargy even harder to accept.

A few sharp words appeared to do the trick as Stoke cut the arrears with a 52nd-minute header from Ryan Shawcross and threatened an equaliser with a drive by Glenn Whelan, before they were finished off by Fellaini in the last minute.

It is shaping into an epic scrap for survival in the bottom half and the pugilist in Pulis came to the fore as he said: 'We are battle hardened after being down there all season and we know we have to keep throwing punches every week. It is an unbelievable situation, with 10 teams still in it. I wouldn't like to lay odds but we can do it, particularly if we keep winning at home.

'You always have complaints, like their second goal being offside today. But I have really enjoyed coming to places like this and facing teams with great players and top managers. It has been a fantastic experience and I would like it to continue.'

EVERTON (4-4-1-1): Howard 6; Jagielka 7, Yobo 6, Lescott 7, Baines 7; Osman 6, Neville 8, Fellaini 6, Pienaar 7; Cahill 6 (Saha 46min, 6); Jo 6 (Rodwell 85).
STOKE CITY (4-4-2): Sorensen 5; Wilkinson 6, Shawcross 7, Faye 6, Higginbotham 6; Lawrence 6 (Camara 80), Diao 5, Whelan 7, Delap 6 (Etherington 68, 6); Beattie 5, Sidibe 5 (Fuller 52, 6). Booked: Lawrence.
Man of the match: Phil Neville.
Referee: Andre Marriner.

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