Marco Silva beginning to work his magic at Everton
Photo: © Jonathan Kahn
The courtship was lengthy and problematic but this summer Everton finally secured the manager long wanted to replace Ronald Koeman. In came former Hull City and Watford boss Marco Silva. The relationship did not start well as, despite a whole host of new signings, the Toffees won just one game in their opening six attempts. However, since a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal on 23 September, they have tasted defeat only once in the subsequent seven matches (2-1 away at Manchester United). Silva's side secured five wins in that time, conceding just two goals excluding the United loss. The Portuguese tactician is beginning to cast his spell over Goodison Park. What has brought about this turnaround?
No doubt a crucial factor has been Silva’s summer signings becoming available. Although 50million-rated Richarlison hit the ground running with three goals in his opening two games, it has taken others a little longer. Two purchases from Barcelona, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes, both began their Everton careers injured. Gomes didn't pull on the blue jersey until the Premier League's week nine fixture against Crystal Palace, and Mina's full debut only arrived three weeks ago away at Chelsea. The Toffees' other major addition, also from Barca, was French left-back Lucas Digne. He began the season behind Leighton Baines in the pecking order. As for free transfer Bernard, the Brazilian needed time to settle. That left Chelsea loanee Kurt Zouma as the only new acquisition who started the campaign.
Since those summer signings gained fitness and established themselves in the starting eleven, Everton have begun to look more like the team Silva was trying to create.
Others have stepped up, too. Michael Keane has slowly got past a difficult start to show the form that convinced Everton to sign him from Burnley. The Englishman is now the first-choice centre-back, as club captain Phil Jagielka begins to decline. Right-back Seamus Coleman is also returning to his best form after suffering a serious leg break. In attack, Gylfi Sigurdsson, having reclaimed his preferred role playing off the striker, is currently demonstrating the quality he had at Swansea City. The Iceland international has netted five times during the Toffees' impressive seven-game run.
Silva’s success, however, can be put down to more than just the playing personnel. The tactical system he's created is producing its desired effect. On paper, it appears a basic 4-2-3-1, but it’s much more complex. In possession, the Everton wingers, Theo Walcott and Bernard, have the freedom to come inside and support Sigurdsson and Richarlison. In doing so, Coleman and Digne supply the width. Out of possession, the Toffees resemble a 3-4-3 set-up. Idrissa Gueye drops back to support the centre-halves, leaving both full-backs to act as wing-backs, looking to press the ball early. Those subtle changes have started to take hold. The Merseysiders are reaping the rewards.
Currently sitting sixth in the Premier League, Silva can look forward to this Sunday's Merseyside derby knowing his team's form is good. They're confident in what they're doing. Everton will be determined to increase Liverpool's misery following their Champions League defeat away at Paris Saint-German in midweek.
Silva has dealt blows to Jurgen Klopp in previous meetings. Many Evertonians believe he will do the same again.