It's not hard to see why Everton want Silva
It's not hard to see why Everton want Silva
“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.
LIVE: Mohamed Salah in the side as Egypt face Russia
9.24PM: Egypt will be happy with the first 25 minutes, having weathered the early Russian onslaught they have come back into the match and, as with thge Uruguay match, showing composure on the ball. Can they go up a level from here?
9.20PM: It's been a bit of a bitty start from both sides as this photo shows...
9.14PM: CLOSE! 'Trezeguet' comes so close with a curling effort from the edge of the box... Egypt finding their feet in this game ...
9.12PM: Mohamed Salah still yet to come into the game, but Egypt looking much brighter than in the first minutes...
9.05PM: Russia commanding the early stages and looking likely to score...our man Salah yet to make a considerable impact...
8.55PM: The anthems have been sung - a rousing rendition from the Russians - and we're ready to get this game under way...
8.50PM: And here he is — Salah is out warming up and looking ok, well at least from our vantage point he is...
8.40PM: At the risk of stating the obvious, all eyes will be on Salah tonight. In Saint Petersburg, the city of Russian royalty, can he live up to the mantle of Egyptian King? There's little doubting Cuper's side need him to be at or near his best, can his shoulder take the strain, both literally and metaphorically?
For Russia the lineup is as expected, Cheryshev starts having come of the bench against Saudi Arabia and scored a brilliant brace.
8.30PM: Both lineups are out here they are...
RUSSIA Akinfeev, Fernandes, Kutepov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Zobnin, Gazinsky, Samedov, Golovin, Cheryshev, Dzyuba. Subs: Lunev, Semenov, Kuzyaev, Dzagoev, Smolov, Kudryashov, Granat, Aleksey Miranchuk, Anton Miranchuk, Erokhin, Smolnikov, Gabulov.
EGYPT El Shenawy, Fathi, Gabr, Hegazi, Abdel-Shafy, Hamed, Elneny, Salah, Said, Trezeguet, Mohsen. Subs: El Hadary, Elmohamady, Gaber, Morsy, Kahraba, Ashraf, Sobhi, Hamdy, Shikabala, Samir, Warda, Ekramy.
8.20PM: There is little doubt the return of Salah will give the Pharaohs a big boost, just a quick glance at his stats during his record-breaking season at Liverpool will tell you why..
8PM — BIG NEWS: Egypt go into the crunch clash against Russia knowing defeat will all but end their hopes of making it to the second round, but also buoyed by the return of their talisman, Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian ace has been named, as expected, in Hector Cuper’s starting XI to face the hosts in Saint Petersburg having missed the 1-0 defeat to Uruguay on Friday.
It may be expecting too much to expect the 26-year-old to provide the spark so missing from Egypt’s loss to the South Americans — there is still some confusion over just how well his shoulder has recovered since injuring it in the Champions League final — but there is little doubt that for all the side’s calm and poise in possession they lacked a cutting edge and Cuper is doubtless hoping Salah can provide it this evening.
The hosts come into the match relaxed and, thanks to the Salah show, not the center of attention. Their 5-0 opening-day win over Saudi Arabia has both removed doubts about the side’s ability and set them up well for a stab at making the knockout stages.
Can Salah upset their home party? The next few hours will tell.