David Moyes believes Everton could have challenged for the Premier League title if he had been able to sign a top-level striker.
Moyes returns to Goodison Park with Sunderland on Monday to take on the club he managed from 2002 to 2013.
“We had a great team at Goodison but we were missing a centre-forward. We couldn’t get the finances to buy one in my last couple of years,” he told reporters.
“I might be exaggerating but I think, with a top centre-forward, we would have been close to winning the league; we were that good.
“I have to be fair. [Everton’s chairman] Bill Kenwright was always trying to help me and every penny he had he gave me. I don’t have any complaints. It was also a brilliant education.
“It’s good to have a bit of money but it’s also sometimes good to realise you’ve got to get out on to the training ground and teach players, build them into a team.”
Moyes expects to take a similar approach at Sunderland as he aims to end the club’s perpetual struggle against relegation, although one point from the opening three matches of the Premier League season tells a grimly familiar tale.
“I see Everton as a very similar club to Sunderland,” he said. “When I first joined it felt like avoiding relegation every season was good enough.
“So we started to change that. I had a budget of £5million a year but we got there in the end. We consistently finished in the top eight.
“Sunderland aren’t going to be the biggest spenders, just like Everton weren’t. It’s going to be tough and take time – at least three or four transfer windows – but I want, in my own way, to do a Leicester here.
“It might not mean winning the Premier League but finishing in a high position.”