Why Marco Silva Would Represent A Happy Medium For Everton In Miserable Manager Hunt
Until Monday, Everton appeared to be making little progress in their hunt to find a permanent successor to Ronald Koeman. From Diego Simeone to Sam Allardyce via the likes of Sean Dyche and David Unsworth, a host of names had been bandied about for the as-yet-unfilled post, with, in each case, the trail eventually going cold.
In a sense, the stark polarity of the figures mentioned up to now tells you everything you need to know about the pursuit from Everton's perspective. Caught at boardroom level between finding a candidate to secure the club's short-term future in the Premier League and one with the potential to deliver a positive vision over the years to come, time has swiftly been eaten up over the two-week international break with little tangible headway made. Moreover, names have been so varied that no genuine pattern has emerged in terms of the attributes Bill Kenwright and Co require from their prospective new man.
The wheels finally starting turning early this week with news of a rebuffed enquiry for Watford manager Marco Silva. It is now to be assumed that the Portuguese is the Everton board's favourite to replace Koeman at Goodison Park, yet a sizeable doubt remains as to whether the Hornets will be prepared to relinquish the highly-rated coach at this stage in the season. As such, it's a pursuit that is far from likely to bear fruit- especially with Watford not contractually obliged to grant Everton permission to speak to Silva.
That said, hope can be found not just in the former Hull manager's reported willingness to speak to Blues officials about the job, but also the way in which Everton landed Ronald Koeman in the summer of 2016 after initially being given short shrift by Southampton. The parallels between then and now are clear for all to see, with initial enquiries turned down in both cases.
The successful conclusion of the Koeman saga shows that Moshiri, who had identified the Dutchman as the man to lead the Blues forward, does not take no for an answer- and has the financial clout to back it up. A hefty compensation package was drawn up to entice Southampton, with Koeman himself pocketing a salary that made him one of the best paid in Europe. In the end, neither party could really say no.
Fast-forward 18 months, and it's hard to say if history will repeat itself this time around. Is Watford's stance just bluster to appease fans, or do they really have no intention at all of letting go of their prized asset?
For Silva to follow Koeman's path, two things will have to happen: The Portuguese must push for an exit and Everton will need to make a seismic offer to buy out the remainder of his contract at Vicarage Road. Financially, at least, the precedent set by the Koeman deal ramps up the pressure on Watford, yet unlike the Dutchman, Silva may not rock the boat sufficiently at this stage in proceedings.
As such, if the move is to go through at all, significant time, money and effort will need to be spent on appeasing all parties. Which begs the question: Is he worth the fuss?
Critics of Silva tend to point to lingering doubts ranging from Hull City's relegation during his tenure to a lack of top level experience in the English game. On the face of it, both are missing the point. To blame Silva for the relegation of a club he joined in January- and who were rooted to the bottom of the table upon his arrival- seems particularly unfair. Similarly, the significant strides taken at Watford of late couples with productive spells in both Portugal and Greece- Silva won the league with Olympiacos, took minnows Estoril to the Europa League and lifted the Taça de Portugal at Sporting CP- to give the 40-year-old's CV a decidedly well-rounded feel. It's why along with Everton, West Ham and numerous other top clubs have reportedly taken an interest in his services.
Stylistically, the football played by Silva's sides is, on the whole, bold, expansive and pleasing on the eye, while the holistic approach taken at Watford and Hull would be welcomed openly on the Goodison Park terraces.
If there are holes to pick, it's over his failure to see out more than a season at any of his last three clubs, and a lack of experience in managing the kind of big budgets that Koeman had become used to receiving. This final point, however, applies to just about all of the mooted candidates to date. Neither Sean Dyche nor Sam Allardyce would be better placed in this regard.
And so, as arguably the most complete candidate in a race featuring imperfect options and total longshots, the appointment of Silva could turn out to represent a happy medium for Everton as they seek to move forward. The worry must be that after identifying a manager who has such a clear footballing philosophy, any rejection by Watford would see the Blues return to square one. Few others, with the exception of ex-Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel, share significant managerial traits.
For now, an impasse has been reached, with all associated with Everton awaiting the club's next move. As time ticks away to Saturday's trip to Crystal Palace, the odds on David Unsworth taking charge once again are shortening by the hour.
It leaves Everton in a state of flux as far as the next few games are concerned. For any failed attempt to emulate their successful pursuit of Koeman with Silva would take them straight back to the drawing board. And that, with Everton languishing in 15th place in the Premier League table, would be a further blow to their hopes of pulling away from danger.