Three draws and a win under the new young manager from the continent.
It’s how the Everton career started for not just Marco Silva, but also Roberto Martinez five years ago.
Everton under Martinez
Hopes were high back then. After more than a decade under the pragmatist Scot David Moyes, Roberto turned up with his brown shoes and his eternal optimism. The School of Science was on its way back.
Hopes were high. But then reality hit. Well, it hit everyone apart from Roberto Martinez.
After an incredibly positive debut season under the Spaniard, Everton became a flawed side. Goodison was a destination for relegation fodder to show up and expect to pick up a point. Just sit deep and play on the counter – Everton won’t know what to do.
The problem came to light on 1st November 2014 in a dire 0-0 home draw with Swansea. The Swans sat deep and Everton were too slow and conservative in possession. Everyone in the stadium could see what was happening. Except the one person, who mattered the most.
After the game, Roberto Martinez came out with statements like, “We were well in control”, “I was disappointed about the game because I was expecting it to be a real spectacle with two teams trying to win the game, score goals”, and, the best of the lot, “But overall it was a good clean sheet”.
This type of game played out again and again at Goodison Park over the next 18 months as the rest of the Premier League took heed, especially with Martinez providing no solution.
Everton under Silva
With the British pragmatist leaving at the end of last season, Everton appointed a young exotic manager in the summer, one who already had Premier League experience with smaller clubs.
In his fourth game in charge, Huddersfield Town rocked up at Goodison Park and parked two banks of players in front of their goal. Everton passed and passed and passed - but couldn’t break them down. The game ended in a fair draw. Granted the Blues were missing key players, but still.
So, after the game, did Marco Silva talk about how well we controlled the game, express his disappointment at how a relegation-fighting team decided to set up in order to best get something from the game and then mention how well we defended?
Thankfully, no. He didn’t.
“Of course, we expected them to come with nine or ten players behind the ball every time across their box, and in that time we had to play faster to disorganise them.”
This one statement shows the key difference between Marco Silva and Roberto Martinez.
Can Silva Be A Success at Goodison?
Everton played some truly fantastic football under Martinez, but his lack of pragmatism/realism is what saw Everton’s progress stall and eventually him lose his job.
The early signs are positive that Everton can play some very good possession football under Silva, too.
But this line in a post-match interview shows that he doesn’t live in a dreamland where he expects every team “to play great attacking football”. Instead he accepts the responsibility that is for himself and his team to figure out how to win any given football match.
The similarities between the pair are massive – but that’s not all bad. We were on the cusp of achieving something special under Martinez.
But if something is clearly not working (such as, for example, zonal marking at set pieces) can Silva make it work? And, if not, is he willing to re-think his ideas and find a solution?
The big question facing Marco Silva is this: can he adapt? Because Roberto Martinez couldn’t – and that’s what cost him his job.