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Everton under Marco Silva: the catalyst for a new era on Merseyside?

Goodison Park was filled with much promise at the start of last season, but as the next one edges ever closer, expectations this time around are somewhat more realistic.

It’s easy to understand how fans could have been carried away, overnight their previously modest club became incredibly wealthy and some of the country’s most exceptional young talent was attracted.

However, despite recruiting multiple players, Ronald Koeman managed to create more problems than he solved. A failure to replace Romelu Lukaku’s goal threat, he’d scored 25 Premier League goals the previous season, was a woeful mistake, whilst Sandro Ramirez was scarcely given a chance and found himself loaned back to Spain in January. Couple this with poor results, and Koeman was relieved of his position early into the campaign.

The board then dithered to appoint Sam Allardyce after considering David Unsworth on a permanent basis, and Allardyce set about doing what he always does, saving his employers from the drop. He did precisely that, but his style of play and lack of longevity as a successor proved his downfall, so he was sacked after his position became borderline untenable.

An eighth-place finish masks the failings of the club, they only managed three away wins all seasons. As well as this, Burnley finished five points ahead of Everton, due to having a better knowledge of their recruitment policy and organisation both on and off the pitch. Those should be basics for any massive football club.

Everton have once again parted with their top scorer this campaign, Rooney’s moved to DC United in the MLS, and this has been the initial step taken in solving the many problems they find themselves in. Rooney’s return to the club he supported and begun his career came with mixed results, he performed admirably but with no apparent knowledge of his regular position. This only begged further questions of how Everton found themselves in a situation where they had a glut of playmakers but no one who could score with regularity.

The Toffees have long admired Marco Silva, and after flirting with the idea previously he’s finally been given the task of guiding this team to a place in the table that matches the clubs ambition. Now both he and the club have a point to prove after much was promised, but little delivered last term.

Silva’s brand of football is dynamic but requires an intense mental and physical fitness. At Watford, he utilised variants of the 4-3-3 formation, within this setup, the midfield axis of Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue thrived. Expect to see Idrissa Gueye fulfil the same role this season; he made 117 tackles last season which was 56 more than any of his club mates. Silva would be wise to try and tempt either Watford midfielder to join him, as this role doesn’t suit Morgan Schneiderlin’s abilities.

Wingback may also be a critical area for Silva to strengthen; this is a crucial position in his build-up play as they roam high and provide width, linking with their respective wingers to keep possession on halfway until an opportunity for quick lateral balls presents itself. This can leave Silva’s side exposed if they overcommit to an attack, so having pace is vital for recovering their position, and unfortunately, age is catching up with Leighton Baines, so expect some recruitment at fullback. 

Despite an ageing back line in front of him, Jordan Pickford was impressive throughout last season, earning himself a place starting for England. He was without doubt Everton’s best addition, but with a better defensive organisation from the manager the back will get tighter, and Michael Keane should reproduce the form that earned him a move to Goodison Park.

Yannick Bolasie’s return from injury and Theo Walcott’s arrival addressed Everton’s lack of pace at the start of the last campaign but don’t be surprised to see them acquire a striker who can also play wide to cover both areas as they’re short of depth. Richarlison might appear a lazy name to connect after he was scintillating under Silva, but the forward’s form has dropped significantly and if Watford are not careful so will his value. It appears obvious now that the Portuguese manager was the one causing him to flourish in England and reconnecting the two might be the only option to salvage the Brazilian’s career in this country.

To summarise Everton have intelligently hired a manager who has as much to prove as they do next season and both should be chomping at the bit to silence any doubters that remain. With a small amount of sensible recruitment, Silva could realistically set securing Europa League football next campaign as the objective, but unlike previously it shouldn’t be expected, it will have to be earnt.

But more importantly, he needs to establish a style of play the squad can thrive under, last the entirety of the season and fulfil the expectations set upon his arrival. He’s managed to produce some breath-taking football at both his previous Premier League clubs but never either of the latter. Changing that will be key to silencing his and the clubs doubters.

Written by Harvey Sayer.

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