Everton are no longer a selling club but must start buying to really prove ambition.
Joleon Lescott, Wayne Rooney, Nick Barmby, Mikel Arteta, Thomas Gravesen, Jack Rodwell, Francis Jeffers, Gary Speed, Michael Ball. The list could go on and on.
All important first-teamers during their time at Everton. Some thought the grass was greener and moved onto pastures new while others had no choice but to leave.
Whether for more money, glamour or a greater chance of silverware, the Toffees were helpless to keep them on Merseyside. In some cases Everton had to get rid to improve the bank balance.
Make no mistake, Everton have been a selling club over the years. The Premier League era has not been kind to the Blues and a swarm of talent has been lost. Year after year the side was robbed of an integral player and we had no choice but to go again. That’s the way it was.
The club would come out to dismiss rumours of sales and bids but it was inevitable; as soon as the interest was there, players were as good as gone.
However, not anymore. Since Roberto Martinez was appointed manager in June 2013, Everton have found a backbone and held firm. ‘Not for sale’ now means ‘not for sale’
Our best players remain in demand and are wanted by the top-flight’s richest clubs but now they stay put.
Summer 2015 is the turn of John Stones to catch the eye. 2014, Ross Barkley was linked with a move. 2013 it was Leighton Baines. Courted by the most powerful teams, they remain Everton players under this regime.
Even better, they are all committed long-term. James McCarthy signed a new five-year deal two days before the opening day of the season. Romelu Lukaku, Stones, Coleman, Barkley; all here for the long haul.
Finally, we can move forward and build a team capable of winning titles and trophies. Or can we?
Everton boast some serious talent all yet to reach their prime. This is an exciting time for the club but reinforcements are desperately needed if the Toffees are to reach their full potential.
So far, with only a few weeks of the transfer window remaining, Tom Cleverley has joined from Manchester United while Gerard Deulofeu arrived from Barcelona. One central midfielder and one winger. Both impressive signings but the need in other areas of the pitch is far greater.
Without further additions, the squad is threadbare. Plenty of quality but lacking in quantity. The Blues need three or four more pieces to complete the jigsaw and be considered a genuine challenger.
Why then, with the season now upon us, have Everton not acted to ensure they are ready for the challenge ahead? The need for several new faces has been known for months.
Everton are crying out for a striker to provide competition for Lukaku yet there is no sign of an attacker arriving anytime soon.
Martinez revealed he is in the market for a creative No 10 but admitted, speaking after Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial, they are hard to find. So no luck in that department either it seems.
Worst of all, with only two recognised centre-backs in the entire squad – Stones and captain Phil Jagielka – a third is essential. Everton have to buy a third central defender. Close to landing one? Doesn’t look like it.
Most worryingly, however, is the fact it was clear former defender Sylvain Distin would be departing the club this summer perhaps as far back as February. Six months on and there is no replacement.
How, with the season here and points to play for, are Everton so seemingly ill-prepared?
One can appreciate transfers aren’t plain sailing and the right characters have to be brought in but an injury to Stones or Jagielka at any stage and Roberto Martinez has a big problem on his hands.
Brendan Galloway is capable while Tyias Browning has impressed in pre-season following last season’s cameos at Anfield and Old Trafford but neither are experienced enough to start against Man City at home as well as tough trips to Southampton and Tottenham. It wouldn’t be fair.
Between the big kick-off and the transfer window slamming shut there are twelve points to play for. Twelve. That could be the difference between finishing in the top four or not qualifying for Europe at all.
They are big, important games yet the Everton squad is incomplete.
Often slow to get going, one of Everton’s best starts to a season followed one of the most productive summers.
Back in 2006, Tim Howard, Andrew Johnson and Lescott all arrived early, settled in well and hit the ground running. Everton won three of the opening four games, including a 3-0 victory over Liverpool, and that momentum carried on through to May as David Moyes’ side finished sixth.
Leaving it until August to do your business often throws up problems. Players take longer to adapt and settle and it affects results. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. As it stands, Everton are unprepared for the season ahead.
Not landing essential targets this month will have a huge impact on this season and beyond.
The club deserves huge credit for this summer’s dealings so far – signing an England international on a free transfer and a Barcelona prodigy for peanuts is terrific business – but it’s still not enough.
You can tie down players to huge contracts but if you don’t show ambition they will be out the door to the highest bidder. Everton have to add and build and not stop. The club’s motto is ‘nothing but the best is good enough’ and so improvements are still needed.
Throw our young talents in a room with Duncan Ferguson to catch the Everton bug, tell them the famous quotes and remind them all of our past successes, make them fall in love with Z-Cars and the Gwladys Street. However, if you don’t have a plan and stop moving forward for one second they will be gone. The career of a footballer is a short one and there is no time to hang around and certainly no room for sentiment.
Our transfer business needs to prove to Stones and Co that all of their ambitions can be achieved with Everton. Signing them to new deals is half of the job, proving to them the club is on the up is the other.
Stoke, Crystal Palace, Southampton are all spending money. Newcastle, West Ham and Aston Villa, too. Everton must get ahead and splash more cash or the players the club have done so well to keep hold of will have their heads turned. Stand still and you fall even further behind.
Everton have reached a real crossroads and this August could be one of the most pivotal months in the club’s history. Get it right and the club can achieve. Get it wrong and the ramifications may go beyond this campaign.
This current Everton squad is perhaps the finest we’ve seen at Goodison Park in the last two decades but needs supplementing before it can be viewed as anything like the finished article ready to challenge on all fronts.
Upon signing his new deal, a delighted McCarthy said: ‘This is a brilliant club with a brilliant fanbase and what we want to try to do is bring some success here and push forward.’
The current crop get it. They’ve bought into the Everton project and want success to return to the blue half of Merseyside. It’s up to those in charge to repay the players’ faith and belief.
The future is bright but there is work to be done if Everton are serious about the future being blue.