Everton's Marouane Fellaini told to 'take knocks like Lionel Messi'
• Manager David Moyes advises midfielder to stop retaliating • Oldham's Matt Smith the threat for FA Cup fifth-round replay
Everton's Marouane Fellaini argues with referee Lee Mason during the Barclays Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich. Photograph: Pa Wire/PA
David Moyes has advised Marouane Fellaini to take a leaf out of Lionel Messi's book when it comes to being on the receiving end of rough-house tactics from opponents.
The Everton midfielder Fellaini was left with a bleeding knee on Saturday by a tackle from Norwich's Bradley Johnson, with no action being taken by the referee Lee Mason. The Belgium international subsequently took retribution by barging Johnson over, which resulted in a free-kick and a stern talking-to.
Earlier this season, Fellaini was given a three-game ban by the Football Association after headbutting Stoke's Ryan Shawcross as the pair jostled for position – something for which the Belgian apologised, although he added that he felt he had not been given any protection from the match officials.
Moyes has no doubt referees could do more to protect Fellaini, whom he is convinced is singled out for particular treatment by opposing teams, and says he has told the 25-year-old to follow the lead of Barcelona's superstar Messi.
Moyes said: "You trust them [officials] and expect them to go about their job the same for everybody. But if you look at him [Fellaini], you know he has to take as many challenges as anybody.
"He will give as many out, but I don't think he gets protected as well as what there is when he is challenging somebody. It is frustrating, but I've got to say he has got good at it.
"I keep saying to him: 'Look at Lionel Messi – he gets kicked every week.' Everybody wants to kick him [Messi] because it is the only way to stop him, but all he ever does is sort of smile, get up and get on with it, and then does it again. So I have told him [Fellaini] he has to copy that.
"I don't think he'll ever be as good as that, but certainly in his temperament he should try to be similar to Lionel Messi, who looks as if he just gets on and accepts that people have to try to stop him some way."
Moyes was speaking ahead of Tuesday's FA Cup fifth-round replay against the League One club Oldham at Goodison Park, in which his team will seek to contain the threat of the 6ft 6in striker Matt Smith.
Smith scored a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser for the Latics to ensure the original tie finished 2-2 on 16 February, having scored twice in the previous round as Liverpool suffered a shock 3-2 defeat at Boundary Park.
Moyes, whose side are sixth in the Premier League, feels the forward may provide his defence with a test quite different to those they are used to facing in the top flight. "That type of centre-forward was probably more prevalent in my day – we had one of them every week," the Everton manager, a former centre-back, said. "I think it is less and less so the case now in the Premier League, so that is what makes it a little bit more unusual.
"I don't think there are quite as many teams using a big man the way Oldham do. But it is part of football and there is no right or wrong way to play."