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Silva demands more focus from Blues players

Everton boss dismissed claims that defensive lapses at Millwall were due to the Toffees’ setup

Millwall v Everton - FA Cup Fourth Round
Silva cut a miserable figure after Millwall knocked Everton out of the FA Cup on Saturday
Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Everton manager Marco Silva says a lack of focus and aggression cost his side in Saturday’s FA Cup embarrassment at Millwall.

The Blues twice led the Lions, 19th in the Championship, but conceded twice in the final 15 minutes to lose 3-2, with each of Millwall’s goals coming from set-plays.

With the Toffees having now conceded a staggering 14 goals from set-pieces this term, Silva, speaking at his press conference before tomorrow’s trip to Huddersfield Town, felt his players did not take on board his pre-match preparations on Saturday:

“It’s a big disappointment for us and for me as a manager. When you prepare for a game, you prepare for all the possible moments with your players. Of course, you prepare for all these moments and when we analyse our opponents, we analyse their strengths and weaknesses.

“When you play against Millwall away, you expect what is coming from them. It was part of our plan; something we prepared for really strongly during the week. There wasn’t enough aggression and focus in that moment because when you concede the goals like we conceded, it is a matter of being more aggressive, and to take responsibility in that moment, to do what we planned and prepared.”

Silva was also asked how exactly he prepares for matches from a defensive point of view, amid debate as to whether zonal marking suits the Blues better than the more straightforward man-to-man system.

Millwall v Everton - FA Cup Fourth Round
Murray Wallace took advantage of slack Everton defending from a set-play to win the game
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

But the manager denied that Everton’s recent defensive woes are down to their setup, and challenged his players to take more responsibility on the pitch:

“I understand all the conversations about the situation. I told you the other day when you asked me about zonal marking or man to man.

“For me it’s clear. It’s a matter of aggression and focus because if you don’t take responsibility on the pitch it will be difficult in the same way.”

The defeat at Millwall continued Everton’s dreadful recent form, which now reads as three wins, two draws and seven defeats in their previous 12 matches.

Having sat in sixth place at the start of December, after winning five of the seven games prior, Silva was also asked what he puts the collapse of the Toffee’s season down to:

“[It has been] A tough, tough period for us. We know a season normally has good runs and bad runs. Of course, you want to have more good than bad.

“It’s something we are missing, to be more consistent as a team. When we achieved some good results in the last few games, you’re thinking now is the moment to do the same again, and for some reason we didn’t achieve that.

“Now is the moment for us to look forward, to prepare for tomorrow’s game in the best way and to achieve a good result for us to do a good run again, because it’s something we need as a team.”

Central defender Yerry Mina was subsituted at half-time at The Den, and Silva confirmed today that it was due to an injury sustained in his left foot.

But the manager would not rule him out of action for tomorrow’s trip to the John Smith’s Stadium:

“We will keep doing some exams for us to be more sure about really what’s happened with him; we did yesterday [as well]. It’s possible we will do one or two more today for us to be 100 per cent sure and to give the right information to you.

“Let’s see what comes from the exam.”