What a mess.
Everton’s season has repeatedly threatened to turn into a full-blown crisis. The last few days suggest we are finally there.
Saturday’s abject display against Norwich would finish off most managers, let alone one who has teetered on the brink as much as Marco Silva has over the past 12 months.
The furious reaction from the supporters suggested a line has been crossed. This isn’t the first time they have endured a result like this under the Portuguese. It seems lessons are not being learned.
Had Farhad Moshiri gone with instinct then Silva would probably already have been sacked by now.
But instead we heard…nothing.
The club bunkered down for 48 hours.
Rumours spread like wildfire, among the supporters and in the media, making it increasingly hard to judge what had substance and what was pure speculation.
Boardroom meetings, 3pm announcements, but nothing official emerged from the club.
Instead, on Tuesday, it was leaked to certain members of the media that Silva would remain in charge for Sunday’s game against Leicester, with the 42-year-old taking training as normal after a short break back in Portugal.
It seems Silva has been spared for four reasons:
1) The lessons of 2017
Moshiri reacted quickly to dismiss Ronald Koeman in 2017 but infamously did so without a replacement lined up. While the club persisted in their ultimately fruitless attempt to lure Silva from Watford, performances continued to slide under David Unsworth, exacerbating the sense of crisis. Things got so bad that we ended up with Sam Allardyce. Never again.
2) No suitable caretaker
It would not be fair to throw Unsworth to the wolves again, so the alternative is an experienced caretaker to steady the ship. It seems David Moyes was seen as the ideal short-term option and would have bought the board some time. There are few managers who would join knowing it would likely be on a short-term basis so to have one free and available, who knows the club intimately, is a bonus. But the furious reaction by the fans to the prospect of the Scot returning to Goodison has scared the board off.
3) The lack of a standout, and available, candidate
Eddie Howe? Mikel Arteta? Rafael Benitez? All the names linked with the job have their strengths and weaknesses, with no real standout candidate. It is also very hard to prise a manager from a club mid-season, as we found to our cost with Silva two years ago.
4) The horrendous fixture list
The top two away from home in the space of four days, one of those being a local derby, is a daunting start to give a new manager. The rest of December is equally imposing but after the trip to Anfield four out of Everton’s next five games are at home. Which would at least give the new man a fighting chance.
The resistance to Moyes is understandable given his toxic behaviour towards the club immediately after his move to Manchester United as well as his relative decline as a manager since, It would also represent a failure of the Moshiri project to go back to a man who left six years ago.
Personally, I am not as opposed to Moyes’ return as some other supporters, but only a last resort and on a temporary basis until the end of the season. If we lose the next two games heavily and all other choices are exhausted, I’d struggle to see another option (Mark Hughes isn’t an option). Though the very fact we are even considering it is another recognition of failure on the board’s part.
The trouble is, ask the fans who they want and there is no-one out there who would gain universal approval. We are hopelessly divided on the subject.
That division is replicated at boardroom level, with Jamie Carragher revealing on Sky Sports on Monday that that Moshiri and Bill Kenwright are also split on who to appoint.
This is not the first time they have been divided on key issues. Kenwright is the old romantic, but with far more experience of running the club on a budget. Moshiri is the man with deep pockets but more likely to react on impulse.
So with a weary fanbase hopelessly divided and a boardroom wracked with indecision and confusion, where do we go from here?
Step forward Marcel Brands.
As director of football he has to lead the recruitment of a new manager.
I was always a little wary that the Dutchman did not oversee the recruitment of Silva 18 months ago, merely approving it after his arrival the previous month.
The relationship between manager and director of football is vital and can prove corrosive to the club’s performances if it goes wrong, as evidenced with Steve Walsh and Koeman.
If Brands is this scouting guru we are all told he is, then surely he can show some imagination and find a manager who has a decent track record and fits in with the club’s identity and ambition.
The same, tired old names in the press suggest they are being leaked by the same old sources. Brands, in contrast, has generally kept a tight lid on transfer rumours during his time at the club. Can he do the same with managers?
The silence may seem deafening for now, but we can only hope that behind the scenes, beyond the reach of the fans and the media, genuine action is taking place.
This is a vital juncture in the club’s recent history and they cannot afford to get this appointment wrong.
It is time for true leadership to guide us out of this crisis.