LONDON (Reuters) - Everton fans can probably be forgiven if they decline to dance in the streets at the news of the acquisition of 60 million pounds-worth of midfield talent, having seen their club spend lavishly in the last four years to precisely nil effect.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti has brought in James Rodriguez, Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure and though they look a classy trio on paper, judgement will be very much reserved at a club bruised from decades of failure and hurting all the more after seeing the monumental achievements of their neighbours Liverpool.
When Iranian billionaire owner Farhad Moshiri took over in 2016, fans could start dreaming of a return to the big time for a club who have spent more years in the top flight than any other but won the last of their nine league titles in 1987.
While there was no immediate Chelsea or Manchester City-style revolution, Moshiri can hardly be accused of keeping his hands in his deep pockets as Everton splashed over 400 million pounds ($532 million) in his first three years.
The problem has been a deeply-flawed recruitment process - allied with a high turnover of managers.
A selection of players deemed not good enough for Premier League rivals - the likes of Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Morgan Schneiderlin, Fabian Delph and Alex Iwobi - have all arrived on big wages and failed to make any sort of meaningful impression.
When the club has gone further afield it has been similarly disastrous as Cenk Tosun, Oumar Niasse, Yerry Mina, Davy Klaassen, Muhamed Besic, Moise Kean, Sandro Ramirez, Bernard and many others have been expensively unveiled - then failed.
Last season, after a terrible post-lockdown run, Everton finished 12th, following eighth-placed finishes in the previous two, and since the start of the Premier League they have made the top four once.
Brazilian forward Richarlison is about the only big transfer success story of recent years, but his partnership with local favourite Dominic Calvert-Lewin is still inconsistent, while behind them there is no hint of any sort of settled lineup.
Ancelotti has an extraordinary record of success at the top level across Europe but faces a very different challenge going into a season with a target of finishing above Wolves, Burnley, Southampton and Sheffield United - something Everton failed, deservedly, to do last time.
Perhaps his Midas touch and the combination of new blood and some bright local talent will finally bring about a revival, but it is going to take patience in the stands and in the boardroom while he builds, and a storming of the top-four barricades is likely to be a while off yet.
Reporting by Mitch Phillips, editing by Toby Davis
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