Too often Moyes’s side have endured torrid starts to the season and been left behind by their rivals for European places before belatedly discovering their form in January.
Fellaini’s towering display in an attacking role, decorated by his 57th-minute
header, has given
The 24-year-old Belgian has been an enigmatic presence since joining the club, promising to ignite English football with his skill, athleticism and power, but too often restricting himself to fleeting moments of brilliance.
If Monday night's victory over
The leap which secured the three points conjured images of one of the most famous Everton goals in recent history, when Duncan Ferguson’s header in a 1-0 victory over United was pivotal in the club finishing in the top four in 2005.
It is too soon to make predictions of a similar campaign, but Moyes knows if he can keep his first XI fit, and Fellaini in such form, there is no reason why his side will not be in the hunt for the Champions League places.
“When he plays like that he is unplayable because of his sheer size,” captain Phil Neville said. “We can mix it up and play a bit more direct. It allows you to play up the field and create chances. He was the focal point of every attack we had.
“I personally think his best position is causing problems in the attacking third. He is such an awkward player to play against. We’ve lost Tim Cahill who has served this club well for years, but Fellaini can fit into that role.”
Neville revealed a change to the pre-season schedule may have played its part in ensuring Everton hit their stride immediately. “We don’t normally start well and the manager has been drumming it into us to hit the ground running,” he said.
“He changed pre-season, brought us back early, worked us hard and then gave us five days off. The most important thing is recruiting early to make sure the season doesn’t kick off in October for us.”
Goodison was bouncing at full-time, but there was little evidence of savouring victory from Moyes as he felt his side’s ability to defeat Sir Alex Ferguson’s team had been underestimated.
“No one was talking about us before the game,” Moyes said. “All the headlines were about Manchester United. I find that a bit surprising because we were a very good team, particularly at Goodison Park.”
If Moyes felt his side were denied attention before kick-off, there was no danger of that after their performance. The tempo they set last night suggests they are capable of being among the pacesetters this season.
“We’ve not started so well in the past, but we will judge the start after 10 games, not one,” Moyes said. “Winning one game doesn’t mean it’s a good start in the same way if we’d lost I wouldn’t have said it was bad start. The last time we had a good start we finished in the Champions League. What’s important is we don’t want to be playing catch-up as in previous years.
“I’m really pleased because we performed so well and it was a great result, but we won’t get carried away. We’ll enjoy it because it’s not often any team beats Manchester United, but we’ll move on quickly.”