David Moyes has often fought like a Samurai warrior to fend off bids for his prized assets. When asked the inevitable question about the future of the season's most prolific match-winner, Marouane Fellaini, the Everton manager sounded more like a Zen preacher.
Wayne Rooney, Joleon Lescott, Mikel Arteta and, to a lesser extent, Jack Rodwell, all departed Goodison after a prolonged period of wooing by top-four clubs. The fear is Fellaini will be next, but after seeing the Belgian maintain the early pace in the Footballer of the Year running, Moyes embraced a new mantra: "Four times bitten, five times shy."
Fellaini, who scored a 76th-minute equaliser against Sunderland before creating Nikica Jelavic's winner three minutes later, has made it clear he is craving Champions League football.
There is acceptance from Moyes that if he cannot deliver it, the Belgian will move on.
"Everybody knows where he is and if they want to come and watch him that's up to them," said Moyes. "It would be a big price on his head but I'm not in the mood now to keep the fight going all the time. We've had to do it with a lot of players.
"We've got to the stage at Everton where I say, 'Look, we've lost some really good players but I don't think it's stopped us from progressing'.
"In fact, people might say Everton lost good players and improved. We all felt really down when we've lost players but we've had to pick ourselves up and go and find other ones. I was dead against selling players and I'm still dead against it."