F365’s early losers: Marco Silva, Watford and Everton

Date published: Sunday 21st January 2018 2:27

Arsenal exchange a player no longer willing to fight for the cause for one desperate to prove a point. Manchester United swap a player who has failed to establish himself with one of the world’s greatest talents. Both players have the chance to thrive with a fresh start in new surroundings; both managers stand to profit.

There is little doubt that Arsenal made a mistake in keeping Alexis Sanchez for six extra months, dropping the value of the Chilean under the false pretence that they could persuade him to stay. And there is a general acceptance that United are admitting defeat over Henrikh Mkhitaryan. But when the paperwork is finally filed, the medicals are finally completed and the switch is finally confirmed, any past mistakes will be overwhelmed by the numerous positives. This is a move that stands to benefit everyone.

It is the direct opposite of Everton’s approach for Marco Silva in October. The confirmation of the Portuguese’s sacking on Sunday is the sorry climax to an episode that has left all three involved parties far worse off.

Watford were fourth before ascension to the Everton throne became a possibility for Silva. When Ronald Koeman was sacked on October 15, the Hornets were above Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in the table. They had 15 points from eight games. They had been beaten just once.

The defeat to Leicester on Saturday was their 11th in 16 games since the Everton post became vacant. They have won three matches in that time, having won four of their first eight. Only Swansea (9) have accrued fewer points than their 11. Five points separate them from the relegation zone.

It is the sort of ‘significant deterioration’ to which Watford alluded in their official statement on Sunday, and that those expressing consternation that the team in tenth had sacked their manager were wilfully overlooking. This was no ‘slight dip in form’, this was a drastic fall that Silva was incapable of stopping.

‘This has been a difficult decision and one not taken lightly,’ it read. ‘The club is convinced the appointment of Silva was the right one and had it not been for the unwarranted approach by a Premier League rival for his services we would have continued to prosper under his leadership.

‘The catalyst for this decision is that unwarranted 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 FC has been jeopardised.’

There was no need to read between the lines, for the first letter of each might as well have spelled out ‘Blame Everton’. Their approach clearly distracted Silva, and the Watford players took notice. Their captain had tried to jump ship when waters were smooth; there is little wonder it is now in danger of sinking.

Silva was already climbing the managerial ladder faster than expected, but was offered an opportunity to fast-track his rise further. Watford were justifiably unwilling to be used in such a public manner, and refused to do business. Silva reached a little too far and lost his step. He is now further down the ladder than when he joined them in the summer.

It leaves Watford in a relegation battle without a leader and Silva with a damaged reputation, but Everton are also already showing signs of unhappiness in their forced marriage. Sam Allardyce can pretend otherwise, but he was never their first choice to replace Koeman. He was just a rebound, a decision made out of panic instead of planning.

It is difficult to envisage Allardyce’s long-term future at Goodison Park, and the same could have been said about Silva at Watford before his eventual exit. His sacking means that none of his last four appointments have lasted longer than 12 months; the only difference this time is that he was pushed before he jumped.

Some will chastise the Portuguese for showing no loyalty, for fluttering his eyelashes the second Everton expressed an interest. His sacking proves the conundrum managers often face. In October, his stock was as high as ever. Three months later, the value of Silva has plummeted. Watford have shown him the exact same loyalty he showed them.

Watford are not to blame for refusing to lose their manager. Silva is not to blame for having his head turned. Everton are not to blame for turning it. Each party simply sought to benefit themselves, and each got their fingers burned in the process. No-one has emerged from this love triangle for the better.

Matt Stead


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