Everton announced earlier today that Portuguese manager Marco Silva would be taking over the reins, working with new Director of Football Marcel Brands who starts tomorrow.
Silva, who turns 41 in July this year, is highly-regarded in managerial circles for his attacking style and has earned plaudits from a trio of Premier League managers in Pep Guardiola (link), Arsene Wenger (link) and even his compatriot and friend Jose Mourinho (link).
The majority of his fifteen years as a right back was in the Portuguese second and third divisions where he plied his trade with C.F. Os Belenenses, Atlético, C.D. Trofense, Rio Ave FC, S.C. Braga B, S.C. Salgueiros, Odivelas FC and Estoril.
As manager, he has been in charge at a number of clubs in his short seven-year career (Estoril, Sporting CP, Olympiacos, Hull City, Watford), but will be looking to establish roots at Everton with the backing of Brands’ vast experience as a legacy builder.
Silva has famously attributed his managerial abilities to his inconsequential playing career, and it was right at the end with Estoril when that first shone through.
Born To Lead
Picture the scene: Estoril in 2009, the club’s performances in the tank and finances in tatters. Wages had gone unpaid for weeks and a shutdown seemed imminent. Up stepped captain Silva to talk to his teammates, and convinced them to hang in there. He was even prominently involved in conversations with investors as the club was eventually bought, and has been credited as playing a crucial role in ensuring the club’s survival 70 years after it was founded.
Two years later, he decided to hang up his boots and was immediately named Director of Football at the club. However, a horrendous start to the season resulted in Silva taking over the managerial reins five games in, and he hasn’t looked back since as he reeled off twelve wins and three draws in his first sixteen games eventually leading Estoril to the Segunda Liga title.
Thirty-three years earlier, the same club did the same thing with another young manager (he was 34 too) at his first experience – he was called Fernando Santos, and he would go on to give Portugal their first international trophy, the 2016 European Championship in France.
He wasn’t satisfied with just a promotion to the top tier though, and took unheralded Estoril to two successive seasons of European qualification. This earned him a move to Sporting Clube de Portugal where he promptly went on to win the official Cup, the Taça de Portugal, along with a third-placed finish in the League.
A Man’s Home Is His Castle
A mark of Silva’s teams throughout the years has been their strength at home. He has always placed great emphasis on winning at home, and has carried that mentality to all the teams he has led.
In his first season in charge at Estoril, he lost just thrice at home all season in all competitions. His incredible year at Sporting saw just the one home loss all year, a Champions League clash against Chelsea early in the 2014-15 season.
When Silva led Olympiacos to an awe-inspiring Greek Super League title win by an unprecedented 30 points, they had just three home losses in all competitions, against Bayern Munich and Arsenal in the Champions League and in the Cup Final (Kypello Eladas) on the last day of the season.
Even at relegation-threatened Hull City when he took over in January 2017 with the club at the foot of the Premier League, he was able to get the Tigers to six wins and a draw in his first seven matches. His first loss at the Tigers’ KCOM Stadium was actually his first defeat in 41 matches at home.
Evertonians have long been proud of the ‘bearpit’ atmosphere they can create for visiting teams at Goodison Park, and in fact ensuring that the Toffees’ new home at Bramley Moore docks is a ‘fortress’ has been designated as the top design principle. This goes along really well with Silva’s mindset of solidifying home performances first and foremost.
One For All, All For One
Along with his inherent leadership abilities, Silva has always been popular with his teammates, players and colleagues for his inclusive personality. While his determination and drive to succeed have always been foremost, it has not come at the expense of the relationship bonds he has formed.
“You can call me Marco, captain, mister… Whatever. You don’t show your respect by that, you show it by the wars we are going to fight.
“As a player, I took both positive and negative things from people I’ve worked with, adapting my way of playing — Among the latter, I’ve seen how not to treat a group. First and foremost, what you need is a relationship of truth.”
This is a far-cry from the authoritarian regimes of Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce, and could do wonders in a reportedly fractured dressing room that somehow has many captains yet no leaders.
Here’s his Estoril teammate Tony Taylor -
“It was just crazy to see how he went from not having coached at all and then, as a young coach, with his first shot at it, he ended up winning the title.
“But you could see what a good coach he was, right from the beginning.”
A quick bio of the manager on the Everton website reveals his penchant for getting diverse squads to gel quickly, something the Blues missed badly at the beginning of the ill-fated 2017-18 season.
“He has a recognised gift for bringing together players from varying backgrounds and cultures and immediately uniting them behind a single cause...
“After he guided Estoril to fifth on their top-flight return in 2012/13... bringing in 11 players from four countries, while turning a £3million profit. And then improved his side’s results, Estoril finishing fourth and losing only six matches all season.
“Equally, Silva had to act fast when he got to Hull, recruiting eight players from six countries on a mix of permanent and temporary deals in the month following his arrival.
And his new-look team clicked in the blink of an eye, collecting 17 points from Silva’s first 11 matches...”
That ability has manifested itself in his squads giving their all, showing a never-say-die attitude and never knowing when they are beaten.
Oumar Niasse, ostracised and sidelined by Ronald Koeman, was quick to praise his former Tigers’ boss -
“He’s a good person, and when you are a good person life smiles at you.
“For me, he can be a big manager. He’s already very good but I think he can manage one of the big clubs.
“He’s done it in Portugal, Greece and now he’s started to prove himself in England. It’s a pressurised environment but he’s made some good improvements to the team and he’s going to keep getting better. He has a great energy about him.”
David Meyler, another player of his at Hull City commended the manager too -
“I said to Seamus Coleman he’ll be brilliant for Everton. In the time I worked with him, the six months, he was fantastic, really enjoyable, his analysis of everything, the way he wants to play.
“He’ll encourage Seamus, he’ll make Seamus and even better player and Seamus will thoroughly enjoy working with him.”
Everton could have really found themselves a gem in the young manager, but will need to ensure they put him in a position where he can build a platform to ensure success for years to come. It appears Farhad Moshiri and the Board recognize this, and have made the right start by appointing Brands to oversee the project.