F365’s early winner: Marco Silva, Everton’s Mr Stability

Date published: Saturday 30th March 2019 7:44

As Bernard applied the final touch to a flowing counter-attack, it did not feel like a particularly important moment in Everton’s season. It was a delightful goal, but the second of a comfortable 2-0 home victory over a beleaguered West Ham.

But the beauty was in the simplicity for a team that have fallen over countless times on their quest to learn how to walk again this season. It is not that Everton have gone backwards or even necessarily forwards since Sam Allardyce was disposed of at the end of last season, they have just taken a more suitable, pleasant route to a different destination.

For example, his predecessor would never be caught using the word “project” to describe his work. Yet Silva’s Everton is finally on schedule after suffering far too many setbacks.

This side do not do routine wins. They either battle, scratch and claw their way back from self-inflicted misery or simply resign themselves to their fate. But against West Ham they dominated early on and took the lead, controlled the tempo, scored a second and held their opponents at arm’s length away from home.

West Ham had a single shot on target; Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin all had two each. Manuel Lanzini was the only West Ham player to create a chance, laying on two; eight Everton players made at least one key pass, three made two and Sigurdsson alone made five.

Any fears that the win over Chelsea came at the wrong time just before the international break were ruthlessly expelled. It is only the second time Everton have won consecutive Premier League games this season, and the second time they have won back-to-back league games while keeping successive clean sheets since 2018. Big Sam would be proud.

So too should Silva. The Portuguese has endured a difficult first season at Goodison Park but is now just one point behind a revered Wolves side and a Leicester team who have won four of their last five matches. A seventh-placed finish – and subsequent Europa League campaign – is within their reach.

That would be genuine progress for a club that has somehow only qualified for Europe twice since 2010. Everton seem to be perennially trying to break the Premier League glass ceiling but have barely left a crack this decade. Roberto Martinez and Ronald Koeman threatened to smash through before they left with shards in their eyes; Silva has already endured the growing pains of his reign.

The failures of previous managers gives him a rare opportunity, a symbiotic relationship with those who employ him. “I think the club also needs to stick with one idea,” he said earlier this week. “The stability I need the club also needs.”

And nothing screams “stability” quite like a campaign in which Everton have never been lower than 12th nor higher than 6th. After the sexless security of David Moyes, the unstable brilliance of Martinez and Koeman and the boredom of Allardyce, Silva could finally get this restless side to settle down.

Matt Stead


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