After such a prolonged and tumultuous period of courtship, you could have forgiven Marco Silva for buckling under the weight of expectation. With previous managers Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman starting with promise before fizzling out, Silva will be keen to prove that his short spells at Hull and Watford are not part of a trend that will continue at Everton. Of course, his direct predecessor Sam Allardyce delivering such turgid and uninspired football ensured that Silva delivering some form of attacking verve would be appreciated. Early signs are promising, although Silva will need to establish a solid defence before Evertonian ambitions can reach too high.
The components are all there, largely the fruits of a busy transfer window. Lucas Digne is a player of impressive pedigree, capable of offering the attacking guile of Leighton Baines but combining his endeavour with greater athleticism than the experienced Baines. In the centre of defence, Kurt Zouma and Yerry Mina have the potential to become a formidable pairing. The strengths of Zouma are well-known in the Premier League, while Mina shone at the World Cup.
Perceptions of Mina’s World Cup may be skewed by his goalscoring proficiency, as a centre-back who scores a goal is practically a lock for Garth Crooks’ Team of the Week. Regular watchers of Barcelona were less convinced by Mina’s rare outings for the Spanish side, although the caveat of this is that there are a lot of players not good enough for Barcelona who can shine elsewhere (hopefully including Lucas Digne and Andre Gomes). This loan spell for Zouma will be significant in defining the rest of his career; he will retain hopes of convincing Chelsea of his worth, but so did Romelu Lukaku as he embarked on loan spells. Zouma and Mina could feasibly form a solid partnership for the next few years at Everton, but only if Silva can cohere the relative youngsters into a reliable defence.
Silva has a wealth of attacking options at his disposal. It is obviously not as impressive as that of Manchester City’s – no team in club football can compete with Guardiola’s attacking creativity – which is why the odds on Man City to win league 2019 are 1.68 on the Betfair Exchange. Silva will not be eyeing up City as rivals, but he may have his sights set a little lower on 6th place. Early indications suggest that Everton will bear similarities to Arsenal this season. Both sides are adapting to a new coach’s tactical ethos, and both clubs have shown far more promise going forward than at the back.
Silva has been able to provide an immediate impact as a manager, but his failure to form a strong defence has contributed to a decline in results at Hull and Watford. Seamus Coleman and Jordan Pickford are among the leading options in the league for right-back and goalkeeper respectively. While Everton can’t compete with Arsenal’s striking talent, their midfield options are both diverse and impressive. Failure to keep a clean sheet in the first four matches of the season, including a tie against Championship side Rotherham, reflect a continuation of Silva’s struggles in England to find a solid defence. Silva is an astute coach, and it may just be a matter of time on the training ground before Everton can find the balance to become a side with genuine designs on securing European football.