While Everton finished the 2018-19 season in eighth, exactly where they finished the year before under Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce, it was far more enjoyable campaign to be an Evertonian this time around.
Here are the five best days of Marco Silva’s first term in charge of the Blues:
5. Leicester City 1-2 Everton, October 6, 2018
In what was probably Everton’s most complete performance of the season so far, Silva secured his first away win as manager at the King Power Stadium thanks to a stunner from Gylfi Sigurðsson.
Richarlison gave the Toffees an early lead, firing home after clever wing play from fellow Brazilian Bernard, but Leicester equalised shortly before half-time through right-back Ricardo Pereira.
The Foxes may have lost a man midway through the second half after Wes Morgan received a second yellow card, but the game was finely poised stretching into the final hurdle. Then, out of nothing, Sigurðsson spun away from James Maddison before firing an unstoppable 25-yard strike past Kasper Schmeichel. All 3,000 of the travelling fans were sent into raptures by the undisputed Everton goal of the season.
4. Burnley 1-5 Everton, December 26, 2018
Peculiarly sandwiched in-between two of Everton’s most inept performances of the campaign, a 6-2 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur and a 1-0 loss at Brighton & Hove Albion, was the excellent showing on Boxing Day at Turf Moor.
Burnley were struggling badly, with this defeat leaving them three points adrift of safety, but Everton wiped the floor with them, racing into a 3-0 lead after just 22 minutes.
A beautiful brace from Lucas Digne, one a free-kick and the other a long-range drive, was undoubtedly the highlight of the day, as the Blues recorded their joint-most comprehensive victory of 2018-19.
3. Everton 2-0 Chelsea, March 17, 2019
At long last, the hoodoo was ended. Some twenty-six games against the top six later after hammering Manchester City 4-0 in January 2017, Everton finally had their next victory.
The first half was shoddy, the second superb. The Blues could have had no complaints if Chelsea had taken the lead before half-time, with Eden Hazard going closest when he struck the post, but they returned to the field a different team.
Richarlison’s opener, followed by Sigurðsson putting home the rebound from his saved penalty, sealed the three points from Silva, to give him a much-needed first ‘headline’ win as Everton manager.
2. Everton 1-0 Arsenal, April 7, 2019
A win by a smaller margin than that of the Chelsea victory, but a far better performance. This should have been much more emphatic than 1-0, as Arsenal were put to the sword with rather embarrassing ease.
The winner came early on, as Phil Jagielka, who was only named in the starting XI after Michael Keane pulled up in the warm-up, fired home from Digne’s long throw. Dominic Calvert-Lewin led the line with a maturity belying his youthfulness, while Idrissa Gueye proved an impenetrable force in midfield.
With this result, Everton secured three successive league wins for only the second time this season, and it was richly deserved.
1. Everton 4-0 Manchester United, April 21, 2019
Could it have been any other game? This was a truly fantastic day to be an Evertonian, as the Blues pummelled Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s team from the offset.
Much of the media narrative post-match was how sub-par Manchester United were, but that was a great disservice to Everton, who dominated proceedings in glorious Easter Sunday sunshine at Goodison Park.
The goals were something to behold, too. Richarlison’s acrobatic scissor-kick got the Toffees up and running early on, but Sigurðsson’s effort from range doubled the deficit. Digne’s perfect half-volley made it three early in the second period, before even Theo Walcott - much-maligned this season - showed great composure to slot past David de Gea to complete the set.
Plus, another clean sheet for Jordan Pickford, who ended the season having not conceded a home goal for three months. He will not have had many more comfortable afternoons between the sticks than this, though, with United managing a meagre one shot on target.
It was the most glaring reminder from this campaign that Everton are edging closer to competing with the top six. If the club get the summer right, more days like this could be on the horizon.