Everton defender Phil Jagielka believes departing manager David Moyes will leave behind a great platform for his successor to build on.
And the Toffees captain-elect, taking over the armband on a full-time basis next season with Phil Neville also leaving, thinks the new man's first phone call should be to Old Trafford to thank the newly-installed Manchester United boss. Moyes got the perfect send-off on his final Goodison Park appearance in charge of Everton with a 2-0 victory over West Ham.
It was a performance the manager felt was worthy of a top-four team and while Everton are currently six points and several players short of that sort of recognition, Jagielka insists they can approach the future with optimism. "The guy has been here 11 years and has transformed the playing staff, the coaching staff, the facilities from top to bottom," he said.
"In the changing room we are obviously all gutted he will be leaving us next season but we understand the way football is. Frustrations must have been high. Teams around us that are potentially not doing as well but getting more finances made it a tough couple of years.
"To the same extent he has probably had the best squad he's had for a long time but he is still leaving that behind and we are still looking forward to next season."
The England international said it was impossible to assess just how big a void Moyes' departure would leave.
"That's a question I can't answer. Ask me in six months or a year's time and we'll find out," the centre-back added.
"At the moment he has done a lot for the cub but he is leaving it in a great state. For the manager who comes in his first phone call should probably be to David Moyes to thank him for the squad he put together.
"It is going to be an interesting summer to see who does come in but we are proud to have had David Moyes as our manager.
"There are only two players who he hasn't brought in and even those two - Tony Hibbert and Leon Osman - have gone on to have great careers. He has done a lot for everyone, not just the players here but others who have gone on to do other things and win trophies - the manager has a big role to play in a lot of people's careers."