The Silva - Brands era starts at Wolves; what can we expect in the 2018-19 season from our new duo?
Silva and Brands came into a Club with a bloated not-fit-for-purpose squad of players. Some of the players stretched back to the David Moyes era while others had joined under Martinez, Koeman and Allardyce. A mishmash of ageing and young players with no direction and some just not up to standard – that is the legacy which Silva and Brands inherited. With such a squad, it is inconceivable that Silva and Brands could come in, wave a magic wand, and we would be set to crack the top 6.
When appointed, Silva had the mammoth task of assessing the squad and, to be fair, he said he would do this, giving everyone a chance to impress. As the pre-season went on its merry way, it became clear to Silva what all Evertonians knew – the squad needed a total overhaul if we were to have a team able to play the way Silva requires.
So we move to the deadwood of the squad, players who Silva and Brands have assessed and deemed surplus to requirements, many which I named in The Cull. It is goodbye permanently to Robles, Henan, Funes Mori, Rooney, and Klaassen. While we have shipped out Mirallas, Williams, Garbutt, Tarashaj and the man who can't get a work permit, Onyekuru, on loan. Part of a ruthless purge has taken place freeing up positions in the first team squad.
Along with the above, second-string players Dyson, Grant, Byrne, Gray and Baxter have also been released. It is hoped more of this ruthlessness carries on in future windows. The squad still has a number of players lounging around the Club, Bolasie, Besic, Pennington, Sandro, Martina etc who have no futures. With the loan market for non Premier League clubs and the European windows still open, we hopefully will see some more of these players shipped out.
The pre-season games highlighted the deficiencies in the squad. The defence and midfield especially needed reinforcements to fit the Silva plan. Silva likes to play a high line at the back. With an ageing Jagielka and Baines, plus the incredibly slow-on-the-turn Michael Keane, fresh blood in this area was a priority. Lucas Digne come in at left back while transfer deadline day saw Yerry Mina permanently and Kurt Zouma (season-long loan) arrive to bolster the Centre Back positions.
In one swoop Brands has brought in two Centre Backs who should, when fully up to speed, replace Jagjelka and Keane. Once Mason Holgate is fit we will have three young highly regarded Centre Backs, which will also give us an option of playing three at the back. All three of these players will be much more comfortable in playing a high line and playing the way Silva foresees.
Deadline Day also saw Andre Gomes signed from Barcelona on a year-long loan. If Gomes can come to terms with the speed of the Premier League he will add some required passing guile to the midfield. With the signing of Richarlison and Bernard adding pace and flair to the wings, and both able to play across the front line, the top end of the team is also starting to take the shape of a Silva team.
Silva likes to play what I term a 10 and a half, wingers who can also play inside freeing up the space for the wing backs. Richarlison and Bernard are both adept at this role; Walcott can play more centrally and Lookman played this role a couple of times while on loan at RB Leipzig. He has also played this role for England Under-21s. Thus an interchangeable front line can be employed behind Tosun.
Finally, three young players in Kieran Dowell, Callum Connolly and Antonee Robinson have all signed new 3-year contracts, a clear sign the Club has faith in them. Dowell it would seem will be around the first team squad this season while Connelly and Robinson have gone on season-long loans to Wigan Athletic.Robinson in particular came on leaps and bounds during his season loan at Bolton Wanderers, becoming a USA international with three caps to his name along the way. I fully expect him to come back for the 2019-20 season ready to challenge Digne for the left-back spot, this season being the swansong of Leighton Baines.
What we have seen through the transfer window is a duo of Manager and Director of Football working on the same wavelength and working to a plan. Brands has worked quietly on deals behind the scenes and has brought in players suited to a Marco Silva team. As the season starts, we have a team more suited to the long-term plan of Silva and Brands.
What needs to be stated here is that Gomes has had a shoulder injury and will not be fully fit till around September; Bernard has not had a competitive game since March; and Mina only returned to training with Barcelona a few day before he signed. Silva himself has said that he will have to have a mini pre-season as the season begins for these players. The new signings must be given time to get fully match fit and, in the case of Bernard and Gomes, get use to the pace and physicality of the Premier League.
In essence, Silva and Brands have started exceptionally well. But the club has a new Manager with a totally different idea of how football should be played compared to the dross of Koeman and Allardyce. He will need plenty of time to instill is ideas on the team. Can we break into the so-called top 6 I don’t think so. Can we get 7th yes, but a top 10 finish anywhere between 7-10 is what I am expecting.
This is a team needing time to gel, playing a totally new way and taking on new ideas. Silva likes to attack and we will see a vast improvement in the football from the dark days of last season. We can also expect to see better performances against the so-called top 6 especially away from home. But this is still a team in development and it will take another 2-3 transfer windows before we can say we have a team in Silva’s image.
We are going to have better football, and will be a team showing real progression this season, but Silva and Brands need time and patience to get this right. They are definitely on the right path and, if this does prove to be a season of transition, the future is bright.
One more thing, Marco: two derby victories, please!
Reader Comments (2)
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1 Posted 11/08/2018 at 15:06:18
2 Posted 13/08/2018 at 17:17:51
Saturday was almost a culture shock after the dross the last 3 (not including Rhino) managers were comfortable with.
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