Search form

Last updated: 21 min 35 sec ago

You are here



It's not hard to see why Everton want Silva

Decision time for Watford’s Marco Silva. (Reuters)
MANCHESTER: In the first week of 2017 a young manager staked his reputation on a job friends had told him he was crazy to take. He was moving to the English Premier League mid-season, to take charge of a club rooted to the bottom of the division, with no transfer budget, and a justifiably discontented support. His name was little known by the country's football commentariat, amongst some of whom its foreign syllables were particularly ill-received.
“It’s totally astonishing that they have plumped for someone like this,” ex-Liverpool manager Phil Thompson announced on Sky TV. “It’s baffling. When there are a lot of people out there who know about the Premier League, about what’s required to dig in. He’s not got a clue.”
Marco Silva, it turned out, had more than a clue; he had a competence beyond those who supposedly knew better about England's top tier. Silva won his first match at Hull, an FA Cup tie, won six in the League, got the best of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool and Jose Mourinho's Manchester United. And almost kept his new employers in the division.
So ended the questioning of his abilities as a coach. So bedraggled were Hull when the Portuguese was hired by the club that credit for their radically improved performances went to one man. By backing himself to prosper in adverse circumstance, Silva had demonstrated his mettle to every Premier League owner. He knew a superior job offer would follow.
By the end of May he'd signed a two-year contract with Watford, a well-organized club benefiting from one of the game's most effective recruitment strategies that had finished 17th the previous season. Though the Pozzo family regard their clubs' coaches as dispensable functionaries, passing on their initial choice of summer appointment — Bayer Leverkusen's Roger Schmidt — when the German refused to compromise on his attacking tactics, here was a clear step up the Premier League ladder for Silva.
At Watford he began with a come-from-behind draw versus fancied Liverpool, bested Arsenal at home and was unfortunate not to take at least one point at Chelsea. By the time Everton decided to dismiss Ronald Koeman, the 40-year-old had established himself as the brightest managerial light outside the division's 'Big Six'.
Four weeks on from Koeman's sacking, Everton are currently engaged in a third attempt to secure Silva's services from the Pozzo family. So far the Merseyside club has offered Watford compensation payments worth up to £10 million ($13.2 million). As finances are free and easy under Farhad Moshiri's titular ownership, that deal could yet be sweetened beyond the €15 million ($17.6 million) Roman Abramovich paid to buy out Andre Villas-Boas' FC Porto contract in 2011.
Watford want it to be known that no sum will convince them to release Silva to a rival now. "We will not countenance an approach for our manager, either from Everton or indeed any other club, be it in the Premier League or abroad," the club briefed on Sunday. The pragmatic Pozzos, however, realize that Silva wants to leave and are said to be unimpressed by the coach's repeated refusal to publicly put the issue to bed.
Once again, those close to Silva have been advising him against changing clubs mid-season, and, in this case, taking on a third position inside a year. One school of thought is that it would make more sense to wait until the summer when a still more attractive opportunity may open up: There is instability around the lead roles at Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United at present.
Silva's agent, Carlos Goncalves, has suggested that Everton retain David Unsworth as an interim manager until the end of season, at which point a one-year break clause could be activated in his client's current contract. (Goncalves also represented Villas-Boas when his switch to Chelsea set a new high watermark in club-to-club compensation for a coach.)
Neither Silva nor the main decision makers at Everton, however, want to wait. As when Hull came calling, the former sees an opportunity to climb the food chain of what he considers “the biggest league”. The former Estoril, Sporting and Olympiacos coach has already taken on one basket case club mid-campaign and prospered so why can he not do so again?
Moshiri's camp want a manager who can guarantee the club's Premier League status, before fronting an ambitious plan to stock Everton's squad with world-class talent. Goodison Park does not have an elite centre-forward at present, yet the owners have no shortage of ambition to secure one — leading their wish list is Edinson Cavani, nose out of joint at Paris Saint-Germain.
If Everton believe they have the cash to trawl such rarefied waters, they still lack the cachet to land many sharks. With Silva they think it's possible to arrive there. And the man himself? Well, he rarely hesitates when invited to pursue the miraculous.