Sadly, Everton supporters have become accustomed to losing their best players down the years.
For the average fan of teams outside the illusive elite bracket, having your players pinched is part and parcel of the modern game. But despite the inevitability of these departures, questions still crop up when a key man departs.
Where is our ambition? What kind of message does this send out? How on earth are we going to replace him?
With Marouane Fellaini linked heavily with a move elsewhere, you suspect these questions will be asked of Everton again in the transfer window. But they shouldn’t be.
The Toffees should sell the Belgian this summer.
From the outside, you might think Everton would be desperate to keep hold of Fellaini. He has, after all, proven to be a talismanic figure for The Toffees throughout this campaign. Eleven goals and a host of dominant performances are testament to that.
But the truth is, Fellaini’s potential departure won’t leave many Evertonians with a heavy heart.
Despite his stellar showings, the former Standard Liege man has never really endeared himself to the Goodison Park faithful. Attitude problems, bans and a remarkable tendency of stirring up speculation are all part of the Fellaini package. Unfortunately, these have become even more prominent as his stock and reputation continue to rise.
This came to a head back in March. For many Evertonians, the final straw for Fellaini came against Wigan Athletic in this season’s FA Cup Quarterfinal. His attitude that day was nothing short of deplorable in what was the team's biggest game of the season.
He was rightly withdrawn by his manager and baited by the Everton fans as he trudged down the tunnel.
Despite his subsequent reintegration into the side, the writing has been on the wall for Fellaini at Everton since that day. If a potential suitor comes in with a big money offer, club and player look likely to go their separate ways.
If a deal is eventually done, by no means should it be considered a negative step for Everton. Fellaini’s departure would represent an opportunity for the current playing staff to seize a starting berth, not to mention a chance for the manager (be it Moyes or somebody else) to reinvest and rejuvinate an ageing squad.
Lets address the former of these points first.
In many ways, Fellaini’s blistering early season form has been detrimental to Everton. Stylistically, the football played at the start of the season was the best the Toffees have played under Moyes. A major part of that was the ability to hurt teams with quick incisive passing, coupled with the option of going direct to Fellaini.
Initially the Belgian excelled in this system and as a result, has become the focal point of the Everton attack for a large portion of the season. But somewhere along the line, the balance between the short passing game and direct styles has been offset.
Lumping the ball to Fellaini represents an easy option for an Everton side running on empty at the moment and resultantly, their style of play has suffered dramatically.
Since the turn of the year in particular, Everton have looked like a very one-dimensional outfit.The focus on Fellaini has left flair players like Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar starved of possession and unable to influence proceedings.
It is only in recent weeks that Everton’s style has taken an upturn. Mainly as a result of Fellaini being either absent or operating in a deeper role. Osman and Barkley have taken turns playing off the front man and Everton have been reluctant to hammer the ball forward as a result. Decent results against Arsenal and Tottenham followed.
So tactically and stylistically, Fellaini’s absence might not be as much of a disaster as many might expect. Especially if Everton can replace him.
With a potential £25 million to play with from Fellaini’s sale, you would be confident of David Moyes doing exactly that. Maybe even more.
The Toffees came close to signing Leroy Fer in January, a combative midfielder with a huge physical presence. Sound familiar? Expect Everton's first port of call to be a direct replacement for the Belgian.
A player in this mould, as we have seen with a Fellaini in a deeper role, would be an excellent foil for Darron Gibson in the double pivot midfield. The Irishman loves to dictate the play from deep and a destructive player alongside him would offer an excellent platform for Everton to go on and win midfield battles.
In front of that potential double pivot, Barkley or Osman would be freed up to play in a more advanced area. This would give Everton some genuine creativity in advanced central areas, something which they lack when Fellaini operates in that particular role.
Any leftover funds would be invested in other parts of a squad which to be frank, is in dire need of fresh faces and youthful exuberance.
Unbelievably, Everton have one of the oldest average squads in the league, but have used fewer players than any other side throughout the season. Two pretty remarkable stats, which cannot marry well at all.
After a direct replacement for Fellaini, a striker and a centre-back look to be next on this list of transfer targets. Highly rated Feyenoord centre-back Stefan De Vrij looks to be a genuine target. Whereas Everton fans will hope a deal can be resuscitated for Alvaro Negredo, another player the Toffees came close to signing on the January deadline day.
Whoever the manager is this summer will surely have other targets in mind, and it would be refreshing to see Everton spend a bit of money in the window. But it just goes to show the changes that could potentially be done on the back of one sale.
With that in mind, Fellaini is definitely an asset Everton can afford to lose.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter: @MattJFootball