Deadline day started with so much promise for Everton. There was talk of Alvaro Negredo (BBCSport.com), revived negotiations for Leroy Fer (Mirror) and even a late move for West Ham's Mohamed Diame (Mirror).
However, by the time the transfer window shut, the Toffees had to settle for the unheralded John Stones as their lone January acquisition.
This transfer window has been a testing month for David Moyes and the club's hierarchy. Void of a physical presence in midfield, there were alleged bids for Yann M'Vila (BBCSport.com) and Fer (The Guardian) long before deadline day, but each deal fell through.
Even as the final day approached, many fans were convinced the club would launch into a flurry of late activity to help prolong their Champions League quest.
Interest in Negredo came out of the blue and inflated these hopes, but it never really sounded a move a cash-stricken club would be able to pull off—especially on a 27-year-old (The Telegraph).
The only bright spot among the gloom was the purchase of Barnsley's Stones. A name hardly likely to excite, but still a talented prospect.
A right-back, he's already an England Under-19 international and is destined for bigger things. He also has the tools to become a centre-back at some point in his career.
Apart from Stones—who is more likely to be one for the future—the club were unable to recruit any other names which has caused a fair amount of despondency around the club.
What has hurt supporters is the sudden hope and expectancy of sealing a high-profile deal. Many fans would have originally presumed the club would be unable to spend on any marquee names.
Talk of £8.6 million bids for Fer and interest in M'Vila drastically changed perceptions and caused a surge of unrealistic expectation.
In truth, these numbers are misleading. Everton were only looking to pay a minimal fee up-front and have the rest paid in instalments—a method only a minority of teams would accept. Even the deal for Stones is likely to be just a small initial payment followed by further sums at later dates.
The main concern now is that this lack of backing for Moyes will ultimately see the Toffees fail in their ambitious bid for fourth and subsequently lose their star names and even their manager in the summer.
These are certainly realistic worries, but it should not be forgotten that it's the current squad who have produced this season's impressive form.
It's thanks to them the Toffees are one point off fourth with 14 games left in the Premier League season and just four wins away from hoisting the FA Cup.
No key player has left the club, which is another important aspect perhaps slightly lost among the current gloom.
Finishing ahead of Arsenal and Tottenham and whoever else joins the race for fourth will be a hard task, with or without a new face in the middle of the field. Moyes must ensure his squad start well against Aston Villa on Saturday and immediately dispel any dejection festering around Goodison Park.
It's important the squad regroup and focus on producing the kind of late season surge that's become so typical of the Toffees in recent seasons.
Winning will provide an instant remedy and a temporary amnesia towards January's struggles.
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