It is 22 years since Alan Hansen muttered the immortal phrase – ‘You can’t win anything with kids.’
Since then the Scot has been proved wrong on several occasions. Most notably, of course, by Manchester United’s famous Class of ’92.
Now one of those players who forced Hansen to eat his words, Phil Neville, has his eyes on another set of youngsters looking to make their name on Merseyside.
Everton have caught everyone’s attention during the current transfer window with their spending and Neville is no different.
Like many others, the former England international has been impressed by his old club’s ability to act swiftly in a competitive market.
Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and defender Michael Keane have arrived for £30million each, while at the other end of the pitch Wayne Rooney has returned home alongside £23.6million Ajax captain Davy Klaassen.
Throw into the mix the signings of tricky forwards Henry Onyekuru and Sandro Ramírez and it easy to see why everyone on the blue half of Merseyside is getting so excited.
“If you were closing the transfer window now you would probably say Everton have done the best business so far in terms of players they’ve brought in,” says Neville.
“I think being an Evertonian, and having played at the club for so long, I think you’d be really excited about the season coming up.
“They’ve lost Romelu Lukaku but I think that was inevitable really.
“They have softened that by buying three or four really quality players, and they’ve got young players coming through as well.”
As Neville stresses, despite their spending spree, it is important to note the young talent Everton already have at their disposal.
Last season Ronald Koeman slowly integrated those rolling off the production line at Finch Farm and, if they continue their current level of development, the Dutch manager will have plenty of selection headaches this season.
Swashbuckling midfielder Tom Davies is quickly becoming a fans’ favourite, partly due to his long hair and rolled down socks, but primarily because of his ability to beat a man and arrive late in the box from midfield.
Fellow youngsters Ademola Lookman and Dominic Calvert-Lewin play with a similar free spirit to Davies and the latter of those success with England Under-20s this summer suggests he is set for big and better things this season.
Defensively there are bright shoots too with Mason Holgate and Matthew Pennington both seemingly ready to compete for first-team’s places now. Undoubtedly the loss of Seamus Coleman through injury is a big blow for Everton, but his absence may allow the blisteringly quick Holgate to establish himself at Goodison Park.
Crucially, Everton’s transfer policy this summer has complimented the young talent Koeman has at his disposal.
Keane, Klaassen, Onyekuru, Pickford and Sandro are all 24 years of age or under and they should knit in perfectly to the athletic brand of football on show at Goodison Park next season.
Add in the signing of the vastly experienced Rooney and everything is set up for Everton to try and overhaul rivals Liverpool.
“I think they have done excellently,” says ex Toffee Don Hutchinson when asked to sum up his old club’s transfer dealings.
“I think Wayne Rooney is an excellent signing and I think he will get his mojo back. I don’t think he was in a good head space last year.
“Young Jordan Pickford, listen he cost £30million but he could be Everton’s No.1 for about ten years.
“Sandro is a very good player and I saw Davy Klaassen a lot for Ajax, so they are building a very good squad.
“Right here, right now, you are looking at Everton maybe being very close to overhauling Liverpool next season.
“If they can get Gylfi Sigurðsson in through the door, what a window they’ve had.”
The last piece of Everton’s young and talented jigsaw could well be Sigurdsson, whose arrival would provide plenty of Premier League experience.
Such a fee would seem astronomical and unbelievable a few seasons ago, but Hutchinson does not believe it is so unreasonable now.
“That’s the market when you look at players around Europe,” says Hutchinson.
“I’ve been watching Naby Keïta for Leipzig for an awful long time and now he is looking at going for £70million.
“So the best players out there are going to cost a lot of money.”