Is it time for Everton to get rid of Marco Silva?
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Forget Farhad Moshiri's backing. Don't be deceived by Pep Guardiola's blessing. Ignore the slim away victory at sinking Huddersfield a little over a fortnight ago, Marco Silva is a man on fire. It's just a matter of time before the Everton flames finally consume him.
Goodison Park was a mortuary after 10 minutes on Saturday. The faithful couldn't discern what just hit them. Wolverhampton Wanderers were comfortably in front with a one-goal cushion. An away side leading on their own turf wasn't strange. After all, their side had picked up maximum points once in five home matches.
The manner in which it happened caused outrage. The visitors played the old-Everton way; exciting, fluid attacking football. Wolves dictated the game’s tempo, showing more attacking intent. The vibrant Nuno Espirito Santo was on a higher tactical level to his compatriot. Silva, meanwhile, was dull, a reminiscence of Jose Mourinho in his final days at Chelsea and Manchester United.
Wolves' intent was clear from the first whistle. Within seven minutes, they were in front through Ruben Neves. Andre Gomes fired a sparkling equaliser but was cancelled out by Raul Jiminez. The supporters couldn't wait another 45 minutes. Just a handful patiently watched Leander Dendoncker final nail in the doomed coffin.
That slump pretty summarises the club's recent woes under Silva. Everton has taken 11 points from their last dozen league games, that's less than one per game. Although ninth with 33 points, they are closer to the bottom three than the top six. Silva's predecessors - Sam Allardyce, Ronaldo Koeman and Roberto Martinez - could all boast more points to their names after the same number of games.
The domestic cups offers solace for teams struggling in the league. Not Everton. Silva's side has crashed out of both cups. While the EFL Cup exit to Southampton through penalty is pardonable, a shock FA Cup exit at Championship Millwall isn't.
Silva was famous for his dogged home form. He was master at grinding results in front of the fans in an absolutely thrilling fashion. And without having to be boringly defensive too. Hull City and Watford still sing his praises. Although his teams were aesthetically pleasing, they lacked defensive resilience.
At Hull, Silva took 17 points from his first 11 league games before picking four from seven and being relegated. The same unfolded at Watford. He picked up an impressive 21 points from his first 13 league games before taking five from his next 11 and getting sacked. The Portuguese has maintained that theme at Everton with 22 points from 13 league games and then 11 from Silva’s next 12.
The pattern is obvious: short-term fireworks followed by a decline. Silva is a proponent of zonal marking. But, it’s getting increasingly obvious Everton defenders can’t seem to grasp the concept of marking. The defence is vulnerable to set-pieces. Jordan Pickford the worst hit.
This isn't new, though. At Hull and Watford, the percentage of goals conceded from set-pieces was 38%, against an average of 27% for the Premier League as a whole.
Another frightening theme is that Silva teams tend to ship in goals at an alarming rate. Everton has kept only six clean sheets in 25 matches at a 24% rate. It' wasn't this bad at Hull and Watford where he had 22% and 21% respectively.
The next set of games will be crucial for Silva. The Toffees face tricky away trips to Watford and Cardiff City before the Merseyside derby against Liverpool. On the back of that is a trip to Newcastle and West Ham sandwiched by a home tie with Chelsea. If nothing changes early, however, he may not even stay beyond the local derby.