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Marco Silva’s simple mistakes end Everton’s season in January

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Pressure on the manager hits an all-time high

Southampton FC v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

In the deepest depths of my soul, I want to call for Marco Silva’s head. Saturday’s utter capitulation was that bad, just as last week’s failure at Southampton.

That’s what my heart wants, but my brain knows better.

It isn’t fair to expect any manager to have completely turned things around at Everton in just half a season — and even if Farhad Moshiri sacked Marco Silva tomorrow, he’d not be able to attract a better manager to take over this crumbling shitshow given how little the Toffees have left to play for this season.

So Silva needs to stay, and be given the full season to get things back on track. But, after the most recent embarrassment the club suffered due to his failings, I just don’t have any real faith that he can make the changes and improvements needed to move the club forward.

I usually use this space to talk tactics after Everton matches, but there’s only so much tactical analysis you can do on a match played on a pitch hardly fit for a U9 match, in the middle of a monsoon, against a quasi rugby team.

So, I just want to quickly highlight two things from the Millwall match that for me were the last straw in my hope that Marco Silva can be the right man for Everton.

The first, both Pete and Calvin have already covered elsewhere on the site — Everton’s set piece defending is absolutely, inexcusably atrocious. If you’ve watched Everton basically at all this season, you know this isn’t new.

Pete and Calvin have already hashed out the details pretty clearly, so at risk of belaboring the point, I just want to add two things to what they’ve already said about the issue.

First, Everton has conceded 10 set piece goals in Premier League play this season — 30% of their overall goals against. That’s joint-most in the Premier League, though if you add in the three goals conceded that way against Millwall this week, I suspect they’d lead the league in set piece goals conceded across all competitions.

Second, I want to make clear that Everton has the personnel to handle set piece defense. At all times in the Millwall match, Everton had four players on the pitch at six feet or taller — Andre Gomes, Michael Keane, Yerry Mina / Kurt Zouma, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin / Cenk Tosun.

I don’t suspect there are too many folks out there trying to make excuses for Silva and the team’s set piece defense, but the height in the lineup should pretty clearly squash any excuses that might exist.

Finally, I do want to briefly talk tactics — at least as it pertains to one ludicrously poor decision Marco made toward the end of this match.

Take a look at the Everton heatmap from this match, courtesy of EvertonFC.com.

I’m most interested in the big red splotches in the central third down the right channel — this is the area through which Everton looked to progress the ball from defense into attack.

Basically, Andre Gomes or Idrissa Gueye would look to find Ademola Lookman near the right sideline or Gylfi Sigurdsson in the right-central channel, with the two combining to move the ball forward, sometimes with Seamus Coleman factoring in as well.

Sometimes it was as simple as Lookman carrying the ball forward, but quick interplay between the young winger, Sigurdsson, and Coleman often factored in.

With the field conditions being what they were, long, complex dribbling runs just weren’t really feasible, and given that Richarlison’s only real tool in the ball progression toolbox is fancy dribbling, working the ball down the left wing just wasn’t an option.

Ultimately, this is why I almost broke my TV when Marco Silva brought on Theo Walcott for Ademola Lookman.

It’s bad enough that Silva is so tactically naive that his only method for ball progression against a Championship side involved handing the keys to a 21-year-old who, given his way over the summer, would have been laughing his ass off watching this match from Germany.

But it takes a special variety of naivety to take the key to your ball progression out of the match with 15 minutes to play and just expect something good to happen.

Theo Walcott is still a good player, who has plenty of useful skills on the pitch. A ball progression option, however, is not one of those skills. Predictably, Everton quickly found itself completely unable to get out of its defensive third against a bottom-half second-tier team.

The pressure mounted, the Toffees gave away a late free kick, and the rest of the story couldn’t have been more predictable.


This entire season has been characterized primarily by Silva’s inability to get his team to defend set pieces even remotely well, with criminal misuse of his wide players coming in as a close second.

These aren’t complex issues, and yet we see week after week the same problems arising. Silva will be given at least the full season to right the ship, as well he should given the state of the Everton roster after the Ronald Koeman / Sam Allardyce debacles.

But at this point, I’ve got absolutely no faith that he can solve even the most simple of problems.