Of all the clubs in the Premier League, the speculation of uncertainty surrounds Everton more than most.
It is a particular type of uncertainty, born from success rather than disappointment: an uncertainty of the future of their players, their manager and their club.
Because when you are good, you will always be linked elsewhere. And when you have apparently done all you can in one place, there will always be somewhere new that allows you to achieve that bit more.
Everton are the perfect example of patience and stability. In his early years at the club, manager David Moyes took time to end the fluctuating form that saw top-half finishes one season and relegation scraps the next.
As the Premier League’s third-longest serving manager, Moyes is also regarded as one of its best. A man constantly linked with jobs elsewhere, and a name regularly thrown into the hat when the subject of Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor is discussed.
He has so far remained. But this summer is a defining one.
Out of contract at the end of this campaign, Moyes has stated he will not consider a new deal until the last ball has been kicked. And while it is not an admission of his intent to do anything more than focus on his team, fans may worry that the man who has turned Everton into a model of consistency could be seeking pastures new.
Speaking yesterday of the continuing negotiations, Moyes gave little away in terms of his long-term intentions, only that he wouldn’t do anything to jeopardise the future of the club he has served so well.
Having done so much, could it be that he has also done all he can? Are Everton are on a plateau that, however secure, is impossible to climb higher than?
The possibility of summer departures stretches further than the man in charge. Reports continue that Marouane Fellaini will move on. While it wouldn’t be a transfer window were Leighton Baines not linked with his annual move to Old Trafford.
Of course there is another possibility, which is that Moyes may secure the fourth Champions League place ahead of Tottenham and Arsenal.
It won’t be easy. But in so doing it will be a three-pronged success: granting his players what they no longer need to seek elsewhere, giving him a second (hopefully prolonged) attempt to compete against Europe’s elite, and to make his club more attractive to potential buyers.
Because as much as this summer could be a season of uncertainty regarding players and manager alike, there is also the question of who will buy them.
Current chairman Bill Kenwright has made no secret of the fact that the club is up for sale, and that he hopes its new owners – should they be found – can take them to the next level.
It is a level Moyes and many of his players would have no problem finding elsewhere. But perhaps, given time, they won’t have to.
Can you really see Moyes leaving this summer? And what would that mean for the long-term future of the club and its current squad?
image: © Ben Sutherland