Patience vital as David Moyes eyes new recruits
ANTICIPATION is rising, internet chat forums are going into overdrive and gossip columns are commonplace at the back of newspapers.
Yes, it can mean only one thing - the transfer window is ready to open.
Every summer it's the same. In the weeks prior, there is a build up of speculation with regards to who will be coming and going but, inevitably, the first real deal on June 1 sees Middlesbrough or someone similar buy a Slovakian left-back on
Tottenham may have flexed their financial muscles already, lavishing ÃÂ£15.5m on the outstanding Croatian midfielder Luka Modric and lining up an ÃÂ£11m deal for Barcelona's promising young Mexican Giovanni Dos Santos.
But, in the main, it takes a while for the market to really hot up and there is no reason why this year will be any different.
Everton, certainly, are not going to be heavy players as soon as the sales begin.
Of course, ideally, David Moyes would have his targets lined-up and ready to bring in at the drop of a hat, similar to two years ago when, in a quick flurry, Tim Howard, Andrew Johnson and Joleon Lescott were drafted in.
Managers like nothing better than having their squad in place for the first day of pre-season training and it should not have come as a surprise that Everton began that particular campaign with an eight-match unbeaten run.
This time around, though, it is not going to be so easy.
Moyes, obviously, is scouring Europe and leaving no stone unturned in his bid to make improvements but, possibly, it is not as 'easy' for him as it has been in the past.
Whereas he enjoyed great success dipping into the Championship market to pluck out gems such as Tim Cahill, Lescott, Johnson and Phil Jagielka, there aren't too many players stating obvious claims for moves up from that division.
Cardiff's Joe Ledley could be one - Moyes has watched him on a number of occasions - while Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey also has rich potential, but neither will come cheap.
What's more, would either be ready to play straight away?
As much as he likes that type, Moyes knows for Everton to make the next step forward he needs to be looking for players of a Champions League standard but, of course, so too are Aston Villa, Tottenham, Newcastle and Manchester City.
Yet just because Moyes does not go diving head first into the market it does not mean Everton are going to stand still this summer. Far from it.
Moyes has a thick dossier of players who would improve the quality of his squad.
What's more, when he does decide to make a move, Moyes will do so in the knowledge that Everton have a top reputation and players from outside want to be part of the journey.
Take Michael Bradley.
True, he did not enjoy the best evening of his career when the United States played England on Wednesday but Everton have watched him enough times to know he is better than that.
So, too, do a number of clubs around Europe and Bradley won't be short of options when he leaves SV Heerenveen in the next few weeks but his top choice is to come to Goodison Park.
That much is obvious.
Some footballers are adept at producing sound bites when talking about moves, saying things like they would be "flattered" but showing zero emotion.
Bradley, however, was the opposite, speaking enthusiastically and saying it would be an "honour" to wear Blue.
Others, doubtlessly, will feel the same, so while Tottenham, Newcastle and Man City try to spend money in the next few weeks as if it is going out of fashion, it would be wise to step back and look at things objectively.
Not one of those clubs can come close to matching the foundations that Everton have built, not one of them would you describe as being stable and rarely does throwing money at things buy success.
Yes, Tottenham may have on paper a top-notch squad and could easily click into gear but, just as easily, they could fall apart once things don't go the way of their big egos.
You wouldn't even put it past them to sack Juande Ramos if results went askew.
Fortunately, there is a more level-headed approach to life at Goodison and while a huge injection of funds from a generous benefactor would not go amiss, Everton will once again be competitive in the market.
Having broken their transfer record three times since January 2005, do not be surprised if Moyes shatters it for fourth time between now and August 31.
But, equally, do not expect him to swoop straight away.