Chelsea’s summer pursuit of Everton centre-back John Stones seems to have caused controversy.
However unfortunately for the Merseysider’s it is that sad reality of modern football that teams with big money will always prevail.
People saying that Stones needs to move to a ‘big club’ will wind-up Evertonians. Statistically the Toffees are still the five most successful club in the history of English football, trophy-wise anyway.
Along with Arsenal, Everton have spent the most consecutive years in English footballs top-flight. They are a proud club with a big history. Unfortunately to the Merseysider’s the last three decades have not been very kind to their club.
The likes of Manchester City and Chelsea have been bought by deep-pocketed foreign investors and Everton have struggled to make ends meet. For all the criticism of chairman Bill Kenwright he is first and foremost an Evertonian.
However, he simply does not have the financial clout to compete with the Chelsea or City owners when it comes to money.
The sad truth is though Everton will never get to the next level with their current ownership. The club may have a history, but it also has a stadium in Goodison Park that badly needs renovating. Talk of a move elsewhere has also been bandied around Merseyside for nearly 20 years now.
Goodison Park is a grand old stadium and with the crowd up it can be one of the most atmospheric grounds in the country. It is now slightly dated, when it was once one of the most modern grounds in the top-flight.
Now departed boss David Moyes brought the club stability and took them from relegation strugglers to a team who regularly finished in the top seven or eight of the Premier League table. Moyes was often criticised because he could not take Everton to the next level, but he was often fighting with one hand tied behind his back when it came to transfers.
Spanish boss Roberto Martinez came close to breaking into the top four in his debut campaign, collecting a club-record 72 points. In some Premier League seasons that amount of points could have even saw a club finish second in the league, but as seems so often luck was against the Toffees.
Last season the Toffees were distracted by their Europa League excursions and finished 11th in the table, which was probably a slightly false position.
The Toffees will be considered as major outsiders for a Champions League this season and are odds of 16/1 to finish in the top four. It will be a difficult task as last season’s top-four will once again be strong.
Then there is arch-rivals Liverpool and Tottenham to better as well if the Merseysider’s are to earn a Champions League spot. Southampton will also be looking to sneak into the top four spots this season.
All-in-all Everton have fallen behind their rivals. Last summer Martinez spent big money to retain loan stars Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry and then had no money left to strengthen his squad. Instead of strengthening they stood still while their rivals strengthen their squads.
This summer Martinez has brought in just two players in midfielder Tom Cleverley on a free transfer and mercurial winger Gerard Deulofeu for a fee of around £4million. Both signings could be regarded as good moves.
Cleverley has been criticised in the past, but Martinez has brought him in on a free. He is also the manager who has arguably got the most out of the midfielder in his career while he was on-loan at Wigan.
Deulofeu is a puzzle wrapped in a mystery. He has immense potential, but his perceived poor attitude seemed to ruin his season on-loan at Sevilla last time out. However that poor attitude never reared its ugly head during his previous spell with the Toffees and it seemed like he had respect for Everton boss Martinez.
The Toffees boss has stated that he is looking to sign three more players, a striker, a number ten and a centre-back, whether John Stones leaves or not.
It is vital for Martinez to be active in the transfer market, as the teams who finished around the Toffees last season, the likes of Stoke, Crystal Palace and Swansea have all strengthened their squad this summer.
The Merseysider’s cannot to rest on their laurels as virtually every Premier League team have been more pro-active in the transfer market this summer.
After last season’s 11th place finish it is difficult to judge what the expectations are for Everton this season. Most Toffees fans will no doubt be hoping to challenge for a place in the top six, a position they regularly achieved under Moyes.
This season is a big one for boss Roberto Martinez. He now has to prove that the fifth place finish in his debut campaign was not a fluke result. He may not be competing on an even keel with some of the other clubs in the top-flight, but he has some very good players at his disposal.
Evertonians will be hoping that Martinez can get it right and that the Toffees will be involved at the right end of the table this season.
Can Everton finish in the top six this season?