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Marco Silva Knows He May Have Little Time to Get It Right at Everton

Marco Silva Knows He May Have Little Time to Get It Right at Everton

Wednesday, 16 January, 2019 - 08:00
Everton under Marco Silva have the same number of points after 21 matches as at the same stage last season under Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce. Photograph: Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images
London - Andy Hunter
Marco Silva left Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall on Tuesday with more clarity than most following an Everton general meeting of big ambition and little detail. Farhad Moshiri’s verdict on the early returns under the club’s new manager was: “Just not good enough.” Eight Everton representatives were on stage at The Phil. The last through the club’s doors was the one confronted with the consequences of several years of expensive mistakes at Goodison Park.

Moshiri, now Everton’s majority shareholder, was within his rights to voice impatience that is echoed among supporters. The British-Iranian billionaire has invested £250m in Everton since coming on board almost three years ago. He has impressive new offices in the city’s Liver Building plus many wealthier former and current employees to show for it but there is no serious progress on the pitch and nothing tangible to show as yet for the millions spent preparing for a new stadium at Bramley Moore dock.

“I think this club under the management of Marcel [Brands, director of football] and leadership of Denise [Barrett-Baxendale, chief executive] is sufficiently robust to see the project through,” said Moshiri, making no mention of Silva in the long-term. The aim according to Barrett-Baxendale, who acknowledged the serious challenges Everton face in her maiden address as CEO, is “to win Premier League titles and compete regularly in the Champions League in a world-class, world-renowned football stadium”.

The aim for Silva is more immediate and less grandiose: beat Bournemouth on Sunday and restart the process of justifying Moshiri’s controversial pursuit of his third managerial appointment.

Everton have not won a Premier League home game since Cardiff City were edged 1-0 on 24 November. They have drifted to 11th on the back of an alarming sequence of five defeats and one win in eight league games. Michael Bostwick’s consolation for Lincoln City in the FA Cup ensured Everton have not kept a clean sheet in nine fixtures.

The team’s form and confidence have plummeted since Jordan Pickford handed Liverpool victory in the 96th minute of the Merseyside derby at Anfield. New Year’s Day ushered in a new low under Silva when Leicester left Goodison with a 1-0 win and to the sound of the home crowd booing their own team. Again. They have the same number of points after 21 matches as at the same stage of the last demoralising campaign under Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce.

All of which supports the majority shareholder’s assessment of the season so far. It does little for the stability Everton crave, however, or for the scrutiny that Silva is under, to go public with criticism so early in the manager’s reign and in a debut season beset by difficulty from the outset and, as Silva reinforced during a robust defence of his reign on Friday, Everton appointed a manager to build for the future last summer not a magician.

Moshiri did say the 41-year-old former Watford and Hull City manager retained the “total support” of the board and some “tremendous performances” had been served up in the first half of the season, more of which were demanded for the second. That at least recognised the improved style of play under Silva – though Everton were coming off an Allardyce base – and the calibre of player signed has lifted markedly since Brands replaced Steve Walsh as director of football.

Brands’s appointment to the board at the general meeting confirmed his impact and authority since arriving from PSV Eindhoven last summer. The Dutchman has been granted responsibility for the club’s entire football strategy, from academy level to first team. He wields the power and Silva’s remit is in effect that of first-team coach, although both must satisfy demands for progress while rectifying costly mistakes they inherited. The consequences of those errors, the general meeting heard, will be felt for some time to come.

Silva’s design for an expansive, attacking Everton is fundamentally flawed in the absence of a quality striker. That hole has existed since Romelu Lukaku was sold 18 months ago and Moshiri made it clear that, although prepared to fund the equity gap on a new stadium, he will not personally bankroll investment in the team to the same extent as previously.

“We sold Romelu for £75m and he was on £70,000 a week, in that region,” he explained. “[To replace him] you would have to pay £120m and pay £250,000 a week, so that is the challenge. It is why football experts of Marcel’s calibre are needed. Infrastructure is important and to comply with financial fair play you need to go for younger players on low wages. You might have to pay big fees but you’ve got to keep the wages down and that is the challenge. I think we’ve learned. We’ve had bad luck, we’ve had poor judgment but I feel the business we did in the summer shows that we are going in the right direction, but it’s been difficult.”

Despite the sales of Lukaku and Ross Barkley, Moshiri’s largesse and record broadcasting revenue Everton made a loss of £13.1m in the last financial year, from a profit of £30.6m in 2017. Sasha Ryazantsev, the club’s chief finance officer, informed shareholders that match-day revenue at Goodison was not only less than at the established top six but also West Ham – at Upton Park – and Southampton in the smaller capacity St Mary’s Stadium. “The delivery of a new stadium, quite frankly, has nothing to do with my vision,” Moshiri said. “It is a necessity.”

All who shared the stage with Everton’s majority shareholder, with the exception of Brands and Silva, were at the club when his initial, heavy investment in players was squandered. Several have since been promoted with the highest-earning director’s pay rising from £578,000 in 2017 to £917,000 in 2018.

Moshiri has been remarkably patient with his executives compared with his managers. Silva, a “big bet” as the billionaire described him, must hope stability in the dugout is viewed as a necessity, too.

The Guardian Sport

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