David Moyes believes his Everton side “were probably a centre-forward away” from challenging for the Premier League title.
Moyes was appointed Everton manager in March 2002, spending 11 full seasons at the club before leaving for Manchester United in May 2013.
Everton finished seventh in his first season, before battling relegation and placing 17th in 2003/04.
But the Toffees were a top-half mainstay thereafter, finishing fourth in 2004/05, then fifth, sixth and seventh in subsequent seasons.
During his tenure, Everton’s top league goalscorer in a single season was Yakubu, who scored 15 in 2007/08.
Others such as Tomasz Radzinksi (11 in 2002/03), Tim Cahill (9 in 2010/11) and Nikica Jelavic (9 in 2011/12) took the top-scorer mantle thereafter, and Moyes feels that was his team’s biggest weakness.
“I was here for 11 and a half years, and I think by the time we finished, we had a great team. I think our style was as good as anyone,” he told Sky Sports.
“We were probably a centre-forward away from being contenders for the Premier League. We had Mikel Arteta, Steven Pienaar, Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman, Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka, you could go on with the players we had. It was a terrific team.”
Moyes sees few similarities between his old Everton side and the current iteration.
“I think it’s good they’ve spent money but we signed fantastic players with a great spirit, we had a great ethos at the club and what the club stood for – I think they’ve gone off that, a little bit,” he said.
“I don’t know who made all the signings over the past few years, was it the owner, the sporting director or coach? But I know when I was here it was me, and I was always supported by Bill Kenwright.
“There’s a lot of players who have come in and I’m not sure I would put all of them down as Everton-type players. But, for example, Richarlison was a great player for Watford last season, and he’s got a good chance of improving too.
“You’ve got to be hungry, with a desire and energy, but you’ve got to have that style about you where you can play. You’re under pressure here. The crowd are demanding, but they also want to see you’re committed.”