As their CSL rivals continue to spend, champions Evergrande bide their time

It was always said of Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United side that one of the keys to the longevity of their success was that the club would never rest on their glories. After winning major trophies, the Scot would look to go out and bring in improvements to his side.

The 2008 capture of Dimitar Berbatov to compliment the Champions League-winning trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez was one such move. To sustain success, constant regeneration must occur.

Guangzhou Evergrande are a similar case study, having won six consecutive CSL titles, building their assets each season with calculated raids for Chinese talent and signing some of the best overseas players in the league.

There have been failures along the way, largely in terms of big-name foreign additions, but by and large the club's recruitment policies have been a considerable success. In a Bayern Munich-esque manner, they have hoarded local talent as much to frustrate rivals as to bolster their own ranks.

It is therefore distinctly noticeable as a result that the club have yet to really get out of the blocks this off-season.

32-year-old Korean Kim Hyung-il has arrived on a six-month deal to cover injured compatriot Kim Young-gwon and 29-year-old left-back Zhang Chenglin made a long mooted switch from Beijing Renhe. But for a club who have made a tradition of multiple Christmas-New Year period announcements, there is a sense of sluggishness this time around.

Among their support, impatience is growing.

There can be no doubting that the changing football landscape in China will increasingly hinder Evergrande. While they could once pluck talent at will from virtually any side, they are now having to hold off competition from multiple competitors for the best local players.

Hebei CFFC, Jiangsu Suning, Shanghai Shenhua, SIPG and now Tianjin Quanjian have shown levels of financial muscle which could threaten Evergrande's dominance.

A response is expected. When Suning shocked Chinese football with the signing of Ramires last January, Evergrande almost immediately hit back with the capture of Jackson Martinez from Atletico Madrid -- a signing seen as sending a statement to their rivals.

Martinez, though, has been a major disappointment whose imminent sale or loan will now almost certainly lead to a sizeable loss on the €42 million invested. He did, though, serve a purpose at the time in helping Evergrande owner Xu Jiayin make a point. Evergrande's status as China's glamour club was preserved.

After an embarrassing group stage exit from the AFC Champions League last time around, it is that tournament which will once again be the standard by which Luiz Felipe Scolari will be judged. Despite the increase in competition, the league title remains a minimum expectation of club management.

Scolari is fortunate to have another shot at earning a second Champions League crown, with Marcello Lippi originally having agreed a return to the club for 2017. However, China's national team concerns eventually took precedence for the Italian -- still funded by Xu-- giving "Big Phil" another go around at the title.

It is these events which perhaps explain Evergrande's lack of urgency thus far this winter. However, on the plus side, the continuity of leadership should also allow for a smooth opening to the campaign.

Preseason training has now begun in earnest and the entirety of Chinese football is waiting to see how Evergrande react to another off-season in which other sides have captured the headlines. With Jackson almost a certainty to leave, there is a minimum of one overseas player slot still to be filled outside of any Chinese arrivals.

Benfica's Raul Jimenez has been widely suggested as a possible recruit and appears China-bound, although his destination is just as likely to be elsewhere. Meanwhile, on Friday, Lazio playmaker Felipe Anderson was another star linked. Thus far, though, there have been no concrete suggestions of a particular signing.

It looks certain that with the extensive recruitment at Hebei and SIPG, both now under former Premier League managers in Manuel Pellegrini and Andre Villas-Boas respectively, Evergrande will face their toughest challenge yet in 2017. Fellow Champions League qualifiers Shenhua and Jiangsu will also hope to have their say in proceedings.

The heat, then, is on more than ever for Scolari who will not make it past June should another slow start occur. The World Cup winning coach still has six weeks to add to his ranks -- decisions which could help secure positive momentum ahead of the season.

Their rivals may have been busy in the market, but half an eye will still have been firmly fixed on Evergrande's movements. For now, though, the giant's slumber continues.