Kop alert: Toffees awaken

"Last thing at night Bill takes the dog for a walk on Everton's training ground. The poor animal (Scamp) is not allowed back until he's done his business."
- Nessie Shankly

IT'S one of many tales of her husband's fabled antipathy toward Liverpool's neighbours. Another has him saying: "If Everton were playing at the bottom of my garden, I'd draw the curtains."

With the current score 7-2 in the Toffees' favour in summer signings, you'd assume that if the legendary Shanks were still alive, he'd be having a peek at what's going on in the blue half of the city.

Everton's spending is similar to when Manchester City began throwing their new-found oil wealth around and Alex Ferguson called them "noisy neighbours". But so far, Liverpool have kept their curtains drawn in frustrated silence.

"Quality not quantity" is the closest Jurgen Klopp has come to a riposte as his attempts to sign top targets Virgil van Dijk and Naby Keita have been thwarted. But it does raise the question: for all the money Everton are spending, are their new boys any good?

Former defender-turned-pundit Jamie Carragher clearly doesn't think so, claiming that none would get into Liverpool's starting XI. And the evidence the Blues are acquiring other clubs' cast-offs is not hard to find.

We know there are other reasons for bringing back Wayne Rooney but he'd slipped so far down the Manchester United pecking order certain ball boys were more involved. Other targets surplus to requirements at Big Six clubs are Arsenal duo Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud, and the Reds' very own misfit, Christian Benteke.

That is not to say all their recruits have been from a warehouse sale. At £34 million (RM191 million), Jordan Pickford, 22, is the third most expensive keeper of all time and his heroic efforts in a lost cause at Sunderland suggested he may be the exception in Carragher's combined team ahead of Simon Mignolet.

Michael Keane and Davy Klaassen are just a year older and have their best years ahead of them. Keane, prematurely released by United, wanted to return but Jose Mourinho didn't think he was as good as what he's got. But Carra, please note: he'd give Dejan Lovren a run for his money.

Dutchman Klaassen, meanwhile, is expected to be the midfield dynamo that Ross Barkley palpably isn't. And the Englishman's future at Goodison looks even bleaker given Everton's determined pursuit of Gylfi Sigurdsson as Klaassen's partner.

Fifty million is a lot for a soon-to-be 28-year-old but Everton seem ready to go close to Swansea's asking price. A dead-ball specialist and tireless worker, the Icelander will chip in with a few goals. And £50m is what Man City have just paid for a full-back who can't cross a ball.

The method in this apparent madness comes from the men behind these judgments: manager Ronald Koeman and director of football, Steve Walsh, who was head-hunted after snaring Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante for peanuts at Leicester.

Both are being backed by new Everton money man Farhad Mohsiri. After more than a decade of hand-to-mouth existence at which David Moyes was adept, the Toffees have acquired a Sugar Daddy and so far the summer has been blissfully sweet to be a Blue.

Of this rojak of sexy and so-so signings, the most astute could be the cheapest – Sandro Ramirez, a £5m striker from Malaga. No player aged 21 or younger scored more goals in La Liga last season than his 14.

Others would have had Evertonians searching the Net but it does look at long last like a concerted attempt to turn the Big Six into the Big Seven. Although much of Moshiri's outlay has been recouped by the sale of Romelu Lukaku, he is continuing to spend.

Everton are in the Europa League this season so need more depth than what Koeman had in an injury-blighted first season in charge. Missing for much of the last campaign were Yannick Bolasie and Seamus Coleman, while a clutch of exciting youngsters are breaking into the first team squad.

Ademola Lookman and Tom Davies already have and there's Mason Holgate and Dominic Calvert-Lewin ready to join them. It looks very much like the School of Science has rediscovered its chemistry set.

It may not yet amount to a turning of the Mersey tide but is enough to get Liverpool's attention. And with the Reds' own acquisitions hardly being A-list either, they need to bring in some quality – and fast.

You could say both Mohamad Salah and Dominic Solanke are Chelsea rejects although neither were given a chance, while the imminent arrival of Hull's Andrew Robertson tells us how rare top-notch left-backs are.

Everton's long-overdue awakening is not confined to the pitch. With Moshiri's support they are finally planning to move out of Goodison Park and build a stadium they hope will sustain their top four ambitions. But not everyone is impressed.

As one Kopite told me on a recent visit back: "They're going to an out of town, dockside stadium next to a sewage plant. It'll be called the Poo Camp or something.

"If you go down the dock road there's absolutely nothing there. Only a dock that they've got to fill in. And they're still having trouble keeping top players and getting top players."

But they're not, as Rafa Benitez infamously called them, "a little club" and never have been. Shankly knew it and until he shifted the tectonic plates in the city, Everton's history had the edge on Liverpool's.

And they're doing enough to suggest that Shanks, who softened his stance towards the Blues after being shamefully snubbed in retirement by Liverpool, would already be pulling those curtains back.