In the end, there was an overbearing sense of inevitability about it. From the chants of “sacked in the morning” from his own supporters after the home defeat to Norwich City, to the Derby capitulation, to the sight of each member of Everton’s hierarchy arriving one by one at Finch Farm on the eventful day Marco Silva was finally sacked.
Much as he denied he was losing sleep over his job security, Silva would have known this was coming. And, shortly after 7pm GMT on Thursday, it did. Exactly 79 weeks after he walked in to Goodison Park, he was shown the door out of it.
With the dust beginning to settle on the news, let’s take look back at the key highs, lows and turning points of another ultimately unsuccessful era at Everton:
November 23, 2017 - Everton give up on signing Silva
By this point, it had been a month since feeble Everton had sacked Ronald Koeman, with Silva the clear preference to replace him in the eyes of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.
Silva had only joined Watford FC, then eighth in the Premier League, after leaving relegated Hull City the previous summer, and the Hornets’ stance was unbreakable. Despite Everton reportedly offering more than £10 million in compensation, as well as doubling his salary, they would not listen, even writing to Everton threatening legal action.
The Blues, in the end, had no choice but to look elsewhere and eventually settle for Sam Allardyce.
January 21, 2018 - Watford sack Silva and blame Everton
As soon as Everton’s interest in Silva became common knowledge, Watford’s early-season promise evaporated and their form fell off a cliff.
A 2-0 defeat at Leicester City in January proved the final straw for Silva, who by then had won just one of his last 11 league games. But this slump wasn’t the primary reason for the Hornets hierarchy acting; rather, it was Everton, and their earlier ‘unwarranted approach’ for him.
In a statement, Watford said: “The catalyst is that approach, something which the board believes has seen a significant deterioration in both focus and results to the point where the long-term future of Watford has been jeopardised.” No punches pulled there, then.
May 31, 2018 - Moshiri finally gets his man
With Allardyce moved on by Everton after comfortably securing safety - the Blues finished eighth and were never really in serious trouble, anyway - the way was paved for Silva to eventually arrive at Goodison.
Speaking at his unveiling, Silva spoke of building a great connection between players and supporters and making Evertonians proud of what they see on the pitch, while Moshiri added: “His abilities are underpinned by a strong footballing philosophy, a fierce work ethic and his enthusiasm in embracing Everton.”
Of course, Silva arrived only two weeks after Marcel Brands replaced Steve Walsh as director of football. Whether Brands, now a board member, had any say in or approved of Silva’s appointment, we may never know.
August 11, 2018 - Patched-up Everton make decent start to Silva regime
Just two days after a frantic transfer deadline day, which saw both Kurt Zouma and André Gomes arrive on loan and Yerry Mina and Bernard both join permanently, it was time for Silva’s competitive Everton debut. A trip to newly-promoted Wolves, fancied by many as the 2018-19 surprise package, represented a tough yet fascinating first test.
It was far from his ideal Everton team - new left-back Lucas Digne was not yet match-fit, Bernard, Gomes and Mina were all injured, and Zouma was not registered in time to feature. But the Blues played with real confidence and verve at the time, a far cry from the soporific football under Allardyce, and could easily have won a game they drew 2-2.
The most expensive signing Silva made while at Everton, former Watford man Richarlison, stole the show on his own Blues bow, twice putting them ahead to the sheer delight of the buoyant, reinvigorated travelling Toffees.
November 24, 2018 - Hard-fought Cardiff win puts Everton sixth
Despite only one win in their first six league games, Everton soon found their feet under Silva and recorded three consecutive wins in October 2018 for the first time since January 2017.
A hugely impressive, silky display then saw off Brighton & Hove Albion, before the Blues became the first team keep a clean sheet against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in 2018-19 in November.
Next up was wily Neil Warnock’s Cardiff City, who offered stubborn resistance at Goodison Park before Gylfi Sigurðsson broke the deadlock in what proved to be the only goal of the game.
Not only did that move Everton up to a lofty sixth after 13 games, but this victory and the Chelsea draw offered hope that, at last, they could fuse style with substance, showing they can grind out results as well as they can pass opponents into submission.
Next up? The Merseyside Derby, away to title-chasing Liverpool, at a ground where Everton hadn’t won since 1999. What could go wrong?
December 2, 2018 - That derby goal
Well, almost nothing, and then suddenly everything, went wrong. Perhaps, in hindsight, Jürgen Klopp doomed Everton by saying pre-match this was the best Blues team he had faced in his time as Liverpool boss.
Truth be told, the match bore this out, as Silva’s men more than held their own against a side who would finish second with 97 points and become European champions. Were it not for an inexplicable Yerry Mina miss from a free header, or an equally incomprehensible Alisson Becker save and following goal-line clearance from Joe Gomez to deny André Gomes, Everton could easily even have gone ahead.
Liverpool had their fair share of opportunities too, but as the clock hit 96 minutes, the derby looked destined for a rather attritional 0-0 draw. Then Jordan Pickford palmed a stray ball going over the crossbar to Divock Origi, who won it for the Reds in the cruellest fashion.
In truth, Everton’s season, or arguably their entire time with Silva as manager, never truly recovered from this monumental body-blow.
December 23, 2018 - Ruthless Spurs destroy abject Everton
Without a win in the three games since the derby heartbreak, Everton welcomed Tottenham Hotspur to Goodison just before Christmas, then hot on the tails of Manchester City and Liverpool.
It started well - Theo Walcott put the Blues ahead after 21 minutes, but then moments after a Dominic Calvert-Lewin header was controversially disallowed, Pickford dropped another howler, running into Kurt Zouma to allow Son Heung-min an easy equaliser.
Spurs went on to pummel an Everton who fell apart at the first sign of danger, running out 6-2 winners in the end. It was the sort of capitulation which ultimately characterised much of Silva’s Everton reign.
January 26, 2019 - Millwall end FA Cup dream
Just two more wins and five weeks later, Everton plumbed new depths once again.
More farcical defending - another trope of Silva’s Everton - allowed a basic but committed Millwall, then battling relegation in the Championship, to score not once, not twice, but thrice from set-pieces, and consequently knock the Blues out of the FA Cup.
Silva’s dishevelled expression post-match, drenched by the torrential January rain, told the whole story. By this point, yet again, Everton’s season ended to all intents and purposes by January.
February 9, 2019 - Silva endures torrid Watford return
Plastic snakes, vindictive banners, and another miserable performance; Silva’s return to Watford in February was everything he surely hoped it wouldn’t be.
Silva was roundly booed by all four corners of an unforgiving Vicarage Road, where the pre-match playlist included Al Wilson’s ‘The Snake’, Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me a River’ and Kelly Clarkson’s ‘Since U Been Gone’.
On the pitch, the Hornets secured a deserved 1-0 win over a supine Everton thanks to André Gray’s goal, which left the Blues ninth, 17 points off sixth, after a horrific winter run of three wins in 13 games.
March 3, 2019 - Battling Blues hold firm to deny Liverpool
After that galling Watford defeat came a 17-day break between games, allowing Silva and his squad to take stock and re-energise before the final 11 hurdles of the season.
And after the perfect start with a comfortable 3-0 win at Cardiff, Everton delivered just as credible a performance in holding Liverpool to a siren-assisted goalless draw at Goodison Park.
They may not have been at their most ambitious going forward, but for the first time in months, they were at least impregnable at the back, with both Pickford and Michael Keane making stand-out interventions to deny Mohamed Salah.
And it proved the last time Liverpool dropped points last season, effectively costing them their first league title in 29 years.
April 21, 2019 - United demolition rounds off near-perfect Big Six Goodison visits
A perfect Easter Sunday performance at a glorious Goodison bathed in sunshine. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United turned up, but did little else, as rampant Everton recorded a 4-0 win, their biggest win against the Red Devils since 1984.
United were dominated to such an extent that they didn’t manage a single shot on target until 86 minutes. It was not only Everton’s brightest day (literally) under Silva, but one of their best performances in years.
It followed a spectacular run of Goodison games against the so-called ‘big six’, which started with the derby draw and then comprised a 2-0 win over Chelsea, a 1-0 victory against Arsenal and this demolition job.
By now, even if they’d left it too late to taste any tangible reward, Everton were beginning to find their feet under Silva. By the end of the campaign, in which they finished eighth, the Toffees managed eight clean sheets in their last 11 games, and had dropped only two Goodison points - to Liverpool - in the five matches since the home loss to City on February 6.
Defensive issues resolved, and ‘Fortress Goodison’ restored, now came a summer of opportunity.
August 8, 2019 - Frustrating window draws to a close
Unfortunately, though, this summer could hardly be described as anything better than a mixed bag. Dismiss the importance of summer friendlies by all means, but Everton’s inability to score more than once in any of their seven pre-season games rightly raise a few eyebrows.
Meanwhile, Idrissa Gueye eventually left for Paris Saint-Germain, Kurt Zouma could not be prised away from Chelsea on a permanent basis, while other key targets, such as an alternative centre-half, Abdoulaye Doucouré, Wilfried Zaha, and an experienced striker, were also missed out on.
Also departing, in what seems rather pivotal now, was Silva’s assistant, João Pedro Sousa, who became number one at newly-promoted Portuguese top-flight side F.C. Famalicão, currently flying in third (at time of writing). Former Arsenal, Fulham and West Ham United man Luis Boa Morte came in in his place.
On a more positive note, Jean-Philippe Gbamin arrived from Mainz effectively as Gueye’s direct replacement, as did André Gomes permanently from Barcelona. Djibril Sidibé was loaned in from Monaco, while Fabian Delph and Alex Iwobi swapped Manchester City and Arsenal respectively for Merseyside.
And of course, there was the move that stunned the football world, as Everton completed a seemingly bargain deal for Juventus’ 19-year-old striker Moise Kean, one of the hottest prospects across the globe, for about a mere £27 million.
Would it all prove enough, though?
August 23, 2019 - Shambolic Everton miss chance to go top
“Win at Villa on Friday and we go top.” Those famous last nine words uttered by every Evertonian who dared to glance at the embryonic league table will all have known what was bound to happen next.
It had been a decent, if hardly eye-catching start from Everton to 2019-20, with a goalless draw at Crystal Palace supplemented with a 1-0 home win over Watford. But given they kicked off the third round of Premier League fixtures on that fateful Friday night, they had the chance - albeit temporarily - to go top of the tree with victory at newly-promoted Villa.
The first blow came with the news just hours before kick-off that Gbamin would miss the match with injury; he has not returned since. Sluggish Everton had their chances, but Villa fully merited their 2-0 win that left many Blues begin to scratch their heads as to whether they were in for yet another false dawn.
September 21, 2019 - The beginning of the end
The 3-1 defeat at AFC Bournemouth the previous weekend was bad enough, but this felt like a new low for Silva. Chris Wilder’s Blades have won plenty of deserved plaudits for the way they have attacked the Premier League in their first season back in 12 years, but this was pitiful from Everton.
Yerry Mina’s own goal, with the aid of VAR, sent the Blues in behind at half-time, but the anticipated response never materialised, merely offering further evidence that Silva had no answer to teams like Sheffield United, who are happy to come to Goodison, sit back and wait for their moment to capitalise.
Lys Mousset secured the three points ten minutes from time, cuing a mass exodus from the Grand Old Lady and a fair share of full-time boos. No Evertonian expected their imperious home run to last forever, but they could have been forgiven for anticipating it would at least continue in this fixture.
In truth, though there had been hairy times last season, this felt like the moment the tide began to truly turn against Silva.
October 19, 2019 - Salvation for Silva?
A couple more defeats followed to Manchester City, and then a particularly grim day at Burnley, to condemn Everton to four consecutive league losses for the first time since January 2015 and leave them in the relegation zone during the October international break.
Silva had long been criticised for being too resistant to change, but here, at home to an admittedly terrible West Ham, he showed signs that a corner may have been turned.
Tom Davies was given his first Premier League start of the season and was magnificent, as was his liberated midfield partner Gomes. Richarlison was at his assertive best up front, and misfiring Gylfi Sigurdsson was rightly dropped.
It all paid off. Everton were brilliant, and scored two wonderful goals through Bernard’s trickery and Sigurdsson’s late stunner. It should have been more, but it at least smelled like progress. Real progress, at last.
It clearly meant a great deal to Silva, too; often a blank canvas prowling the touchline, he offered a rare show of genuine emotion as he and Duncan Ferguson shared a warm embrace on the side of the pitch. Then was the time to really kick on and put the poor start behind them.
November 23, 2019 - Silva’s darkest day
But Everton didn’t really kick on. They stuttered. A defeat at Brighton having led with ten minutes left typified their fragility, regardless of the debatable nature of the Seagulls penalty awarded by VAR. There was also the laboured Spurs draw, marred by that horrific fracture dislocation to Gomes’ right ankle.
Wins in the EFL Cup against Watford and a long-overdue first away league victory against Southampton at least held off the pressure, but then came his absolute nadir in the form of Norwich City.
The Canaries pitched up at Goodison rock-bottom, with just one point from their last seven games, with as many points and goals on the road all season. They played an embarrassing Everton off the park.
It meant that all three promoted sides had recorded 2-0 wins over Everton this season, with boos again arriving at the final whistle, as well as, this time, a chorus of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” from his own fans.
December 5, 2019 - The Silva bullet finally arrives
We might never know whether Silva was kept in the job to take the hits of the following pair of games, both away to the top two, Leicester City and Liverpool.
In short, he was unlucky in the former, humiliated in the latter, but ultimately emerged pointless from both. Any modicum of hope he had of clinging on to his job probably evaporated when VAR ruled that Kelechi Iheanacho’s 94th-minute winner was indeed onside. Even still, the way Everton fell apart in Wednesday’s 5-2 drubbing at Anfield was ghastly, nonetheless.
It seems somewhat unfair that Silva was kept waiting for the inevitable to be confirmed until almost 24 hours after kick-off at the Merseyside derby, but he will not be so naive as to not have expected the end result.
It was a regime that offered genuine hope and belief at certain junctures, and more apathy and desolation among supporters at others.
If Moshiri had had his way initially, Silva would have just walked into the Everton job this time two years ago. Instead, he is paying off a fourth manager in almost as many years at the club.