The appointment of Marco Silva has been met with overwhelmingly and arguably surprisingly positive feelings from most Evertonians. A recent poll on GrandOldTeam showed 89.5% are happy with the appointment which would make him as popular as any previous managerial appointment. While I had suspected it would be a 70-30 split and hoped it would be closer to 80-20 in his favour it is a ringing endorsement for his early comments and approach that he has the majority on side.
Much of this I would speculate is down to Marcel Brands and both the formal endorsement he gave Silva, but also how at ease and comfortable he appeared with Silva to his side. Make absolutely no mistake, Brands is a very serious appointment, coveted by some of the top clubs in Europe and with little but continued success on his cv in he previous roles in Holland. While much of Silva’s career is a battle for interpretation it is very hard to make any argument other than Brands is a very successful operator. The endorsement he gave Silva: for the most part that he fits very easily into a system that he is looking to create will have created an awful lot of calm sentiment and reassurance for Everton supporters.
The Allardyce comparison is a particularly apt one for Silva, who appears as almost a total opposite of Sam. He’s young, continental, risky and looks to play exciting attacking football. Allardyce came into Everton with a fan base rating the appointment as 50/50. Through a mixture of poor football, underwhelming results and ill advised comments he would see this whittle away to at best a 90-10 split against him. This all happened with 3-4 months and is a stark warning to Silva that despite him enjoying a healthy excitement from the majority of fans, that situation can turn around very quickly if performance doesn’t match expectations. In any job you take, you always look for the first 100 days, and generally the first 6 months. You look to ascertain what 2 or 3 things can you do to ensure you get a longer period of time to begin to implement your more medium term plans with a majority of the stakeholders still fully behind me.
The first and most obvious thing Silva can do is get off to a good start. We saw last season how Koeman’s Everton were engulfed by a crisis having started slowly and all confidence sapped out of the side. For me Everton need to hope to be given as many poorer sides as possible early in the season, alongside possibly a Tottenham and/or Chelsea who look set to start the season slowly due to players at the World Cup. That would be something of a dream scenario.
When you analyse Silva’s record at both Watford and Hull he has demonstrated his ability to quickly transform sides. At Watford they showed an improvement of 75-80% in the first 8-12 games on their points per game (ppg) ratio to what they had averaged in the previous season. Likewise the improvement at Hull went from a side averaging 0.65 PPG (13-20) to one which managed 1.2 (21-18) an improvement of just under 80%. His first 10 games at Hull show an even more impressive transformation (14 points from 10 games) and an improvement of 115% on what had been achieved previously in the season. If we went on the improvement shown at Watford/Hull, and add that to our record last season (1.41 PPG) you would have an Everton team averaging well over 2 points per game during the early spell as a manager. Anything approaching these kind of numbers would not only win over large swathes of the fan base but also provide Silva the sort of foundations he is looking for to move forward in the club over a more medium term.
For him to be able to get close to such numbers you feel recruitment is going to be key. Reading between the lines of the first press conference it looks as if quality over quantity will be targeted and several players will move out of the door. There will undoubtedly be turbulence through this process and his experience of Watford, and more specifically Hull who turned players over extremely quickly in a short space of time will be of great benefit to him at the club. An ability to build a cohesive relationship with Brands, where both can help the other improve, rather than act as a hindrance as we witnessed with Walsh and Koeman will be key to ensuring he has maximum opportunity to hit the ground running.
Alongside this you sense it will be difficult for him to make a success of the job if he is unable or unwilling to utilize the number of young players who have emerged from the clubs youth ranks. Over recent years Everton have consistently topped most measures employed to demonstrate the number of under 21/20 players involved in the first team squad and the first 11. With the likely culling of many experienced professionals, the shortened window and the stated aim to focus on quality as opposed to numbers it appears inconceivable that any manager who does not focus on youth development will maximize opportunities for success. While Koeman’s continually bemoaned the lack of experienced players, and Allardyce omitted many young players at the expense of senior players you can see why both would ultimately fail to maximize opportunities at the club. Brands comments that Silva is both aware of the academy, and happy to integrate this into his planning is a big step in a positive direction for a more joined up approach to moving Everton forward.
Within the first team squad you currently have Kenny, Davies, Calvert Lewin, Holgate and Vlasic who have all demonstrated, albeit in patches the ability to perform at Premier League level. The return of Lookman will likely bolster these ranks as a player we will hope can be transformed in a similar way to Richarlinson was on his arrival to Watford by Silva. Of the quartet that went on loan to the Championship and had positive reports back, it is perhaps Dowell who will the one who has most to gain from a summer under Silva and again could be another rough diamond who could bear positive returns for him if he can get him right.
Perhaps the final aspect of what Silva must do is to make attempts to ‘get” the club. Koeman felt extremely aloof to most Evertonians and for the most part underwhelmed by it’s size, which was perhaps a reflection of a man who had played for and managed some of the biggest sides on the continent. Allardyce too increasingly made statements that led fans to believe he was out of touch with the clubs aspirations. Both Moyes and Martinez, in different ways grasped elements of what the club meant to the local fan base and were able to articulate this in the main successfully to maximize their chances of success and in Martinez’s time give himself breathing space during times of difficulty. While I would not expect delusional statements, or comments about trying to win the league in the first season what needs to be made clear from the manager is we are aiming to be the best in the medium term and we aim to win every game we go into. Such an approach will play well with Everton supporters.
I remember during the first summer of Martinez, there was a real buzz around the club. New young players emerged during pre-season, including Stones and Ross Barkley and were blended by a small number of astute signings such as Lukaku, Deulofeu, Barry and McCarthy. Silva too has an opportunity an opportunity to re-create that momentum. Few would have predicted we would get 72 points under Martinez, but momentum at any football club is a big thing. It feels we are waiting for it to get started under Moshiri, who undoubtedly has greater funds than the previous board to help maintain momentum that has been squandered under previous regimes, and we can only hope the Silva appointment can begin the sort of change that we have been craving for 3-4 years on the pitch.