The summer transfer window has long been a worrying time for Everton fans. This time of year has seen some of the club's brightest talents depart.
Whether it be the dragged out negotiations that saw Joleon Lescott leave for Manchester City in 2009, or the last minute deal thrashing that granted Mikel Arteta's wish to play in the Champions League last summer, there is always the danger of key players leaving for pastures new.
It is therefore essential that the club keep hold of prized assets such as Marouane Fellaini, Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka.
It is well documented that Everton tend to start the season slowly with the last campaign being no different. Is this purely a coincidence or a knock on effect from top performers leaving resulting in diminishing morale?
This article will argue the latter.
Take this season for example. Transfer deadline day saw the departure of fan favourite Arteta, along with top scorer Jermaine Beckford and formerly deadly striker Yakubu, who went on to 18 goals for relegated Blackburn Rovers.
The feeling of doom and gloom swept around Goodison Park and the atmosphere matched early season performances as defeats to Queens Park Rangers, Manchester City, Liverpool and Newcastle set up a dismal first half of the season.
Fast forward to January and what was shaping up to be a season to forget for the blue half of Merseyside soon turned into one full of optimism.
The arrivals of Landon Donovan, Darron Gibson, Nikica Jelavic and Steven Pienaar gave the whole club a lift and the second half of the season was a joy to behold.
In fact, as most Evertonians will tell you, if the season started in January than the blues would have finished in one of the Champions League spots. Victories over Premier League Champions Manchester City, European Champions Chelsea, Newcastle and Tottenham all made for a superb second half of the season which was only marred by the weak Wembley showing against neighbours Liverpool.
Perhaps the most impressive if not most obvious performance of all however was the 4-4 away draw with Manchester United. To come back from 3-1 and 4-2 down at Old Trafford and match Sir Alex Ferguson's men in all departments proved how far this Everton team had come.
The footballing lesson served to Champions League chasing Newcastle United on the final game of the season was fitting as it left everyone connected to the club wondering if they could replicate the Magpies fantastic achievements next season.
The number one priority for David Moyes and Bill Kenwright has to be securing the signature of Pienaar, who has been instrumental in his loan spell and has made it clear he wishes to remain at Goodison Park.
It is also just as important that this season's top performers are not allowed to leave. If Everton's post-Christmas form has highlighted one thing, it is that they are one or two key signings away from the making of a team capable of challenging for a European birth.
It is no secret that finances remain tight and player sales are perhaps necessary to keep the club afloat. However, rather than selling the club's crown jewels, surely it would make more sense to offload one or two fringe players and give youngsters such as Ross Barkley, Hallam Hope and Jose Baxter their chance to make an impact in the first team.
This summer is as big as any Everton have faced since the departure of Wayne Rooney as failure to keep hold of key players would see the current sense of optimism and excitement swallowed up by feelings of anger at a lack of ambition. The Gwladys Street Preacher.
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