In the aftermath of Everton's truly dismal performance at the Hawthorns on Saturday, it's been partially glossed over just how successful the club were in navigating this summer's transfer window.
Supposedly stricken by financial restraints and sure to accept countless cut-price offers for their key personnel, the Toffees have emerged unscathed, and now have a significantly bolstered roster.
At the start of the summer, fans were fearing the worst.
2010 and 2011 had seen few relevant additions join the club, and the last-minute departure of Mikel Arteta 12 months ago is something many supporters are still uncomfortable reliving.
Additionally, considering the mass of articles filed on how Leighton Baines was apparently certain to join Manchester United, optimism was hardly rife, with most assuming at least one key component would be off. Yet despite unrelenting rumours and recent memories of painful transfer windows, no vital asset came remotely close to leaving.
Instead, the only players to depart left minimal damage to the first team.
The seasoned and high-earning, Joseph Yobo and Tim Cahill were moved along, and Everton were able to do most of their own recruiting on the back of a £12 million cheque, with add-ons, received for Jack Rodwell.
Hyped from such a young age, the England international has never quite managed to impose himself on the Premier League, and injury woes had left him a peripheral figure at Goodison Park.
It is never nice to see an academy product depart to a club currently harbouring higher levels of ambition, but for a player commanding such value to be sitting on the fringes of selection, Everton were sensible to trade him in.
Two Stevens, Naismith and Pienaar, had already been added before Rodwell's departure, with both the energetic, versatile breed of footballer David Moyes has always craved. Comfortable playing in most attacking berths, they instantly augment the Toffees' creative stakes and should provide a handy return of goals.
It was scoring that had been the Toffees' handicap for long parts of last season, and armed with such unfamiliar financial clout, Moyes directed all his efforts on rectifying this. Kevin Mirallas was the next attacking weapon brought in, with the Belgian international signing a deal that provoked huge elation among fans.
As well as a couple of youth team prospects, the left-sided Bryan Oviedo then joined on Deadline Day, along with Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe—although Everton are still awaiting a Fifa ruling to approve the deal.
In short, a handful of new, international players, are now ready to challenge for a first team slot. No guaranteed starter left, and all this was achieved with the club receiving more money than it started with. Clearly the Toffees' summer has been a resounding triumph.
This success followed on from the much-lauded work of January, where Everton were also prominent in the transfer window—finally revitalising a weary squad with the astute purchases of Darron Gibson and Nikica Jelavic. This time, the sales of Louis Saha and Diniyar Bilyaletdinov balanced the books.
Many in the media have been quick to lavish praise on Everton's dealings, and rightly so. Recognising the astute work, several journalists have ranked the Toffees' recent manoeuvring as the best in the Premier League, and predict an exciting season at Goodison Park.
Until this year's efforts, Everton had remarkably not spent a significant fee on a player since 2009, but continued to reside in the top eight of the Premier League. 2012 has suddenly brought six or seven new additions with first-team potential, and Moyes' careful restructuring is sure to attract some drastically raised expectations.
His recruiting and Everton's results this year, mark the start of an exciting new phase for the club. For those that are skeptical, it's worth remembering that in a 2012 league table, the Toffees would currently be sitting in third place, with wins over five of last season's top six.
Overall, this calender year may well have seen Moyes' finest work in the transfer market.
With all the commotion surrounding Liverpool's supposedly feeble backing—despite the fact they ploughed through £20 million more than they sold—it only further illuminates the shrewd business achieved at Goodison Park this year.
Saturday's defeat was indeed a sobering experience, but it shouldn't mask the emphatic success the club have achieved since January. David Moyes has meticulously filtered his team, redefined its image and assembled a new-look squad with more talent than he's ever had at his disposal.
His one remaining task is to extract it all.
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