For every Cloud there’s a Silva Lining!
Like all of us, I felt in that 97th minute that I’d been hit in the solar plexus by Tyson Fury, somebody else who was robbed over the same weekend. It was hard to take, particularly as I thought freak goals in the last seconds of derby matches had been banned by deed poll — or Graham Poll. You wake up the next morning and you know something bad is lurking in your sub-conscious and then it hits you all over again and the nausea sweeps in.
I’m not particularly interested in Klopp’s pitch invasion but, incidentally, had that been a fan and had the fan been apprehended by the police or handed to the police by a steward, he would have been facing not only a fine but also a probable stadium ban and a police record. That’s why, as Chief Steward, after the “Gosling goal” I made sure that our stewards simply returned the few joyous loonies who made it onto the pitch back into the seats without the need for police involvement.
I am more interested in drawing attention to the dignified reaction of Marco Silva. He admitted with refreshing honesty that he might have done the same as Klopp in reverse circumstances. He was also very clear that Klopp had not apologised to him personally, as the latter had claimed. It is now equally clear, and not just to us less than impartial Blues, that Mr Klopp was telling porkies. Silva emerged from this with great credit, Klopp with egg drooling all over his face.
Taking a longer-term view, I think we can all see that there is something about Marco Silva and that he has begun to build something special. He and Brands are assembling a squad talented enough to implement Silva’s football philosophy. This won’t happen overnight but the signs of progress are there for all to see. For me, the most encouraging aspect of the team’s display on Sunday was the lack of fear. For too many years, we’ve gone into games like this beaten before we start. Silva has changed that already.
In the week leading up to the derby, as is my wont, I had been giving it out to any rednose who dared to cross my path. A good mate of mine suggested I tone it down in case I jinxed us or it all came back to bite me on Monday. I was flummoxed. This was from a lifelong Evertonian who, when he played himself, would never have dreamt of feeling intimidated. It brought to mind an incident some years back when I was involved in security at Old Trafford. There were a few of us Evertonians working over there and one of my best friends was in charge of the players’ tunnel for a Man Utd v Everton match. This mate of mine, as well as being a Blue, had the added impeccable credential that he’d been a very fine player in his day, the best I ever played with, and utterly fearless on any pitch.
The Everton team were out of the changing rooms first and as they waited he noticed how quiet and subdued they were, and so completely against the protocols he started shouting to them, telling them that they were Everton and that this Man Utd team was rubbish and so on. He was just shocked that this was an Everton team looking like lambs waiting for slaughter.
Anyone who’s played, particularly to a decent level, understands that, if you don’t impose your will on your opponent, you give him the upper hand. You have to go out there to dominate or as Tony Abraham puts it, you need attitude and lots of it. Not every player in a team can do this but any team needs a few fearless leaders who both inspire their team mates and give the opposition plenty to worry about. Every generation of Everton teams I have watched has had a Tony Kay for every Alex Young, a Johnny Morrisey for a Jimmy Husband or a Peter Reid for a Kevin Sheedy. And not one of those boys in this short list identified as having attitude were anything less than superb football players themselves.
Marco Silva gets this. In a handful of games so far Mina has shown he’s got attitude, Gomes imposes himself mentally, Digne has all the traits of a winner. Added to this, the Manager is drawing that attitude out further from the likes of Pickford, Coleman and Keane. That’s half a team and I guess he’s still working on it; a Graeme Sharpe or Andy Gray to “mark” opposition central defenders would be nice.
Of course it’s not all about having that bit of devil in the team and if we accept that most players in the squad (or is it the group nowadays?) have the necessary skills then you look at shape and balance, and here again we can see, even in these early days, that Silva is making real progress. The defence is good and getting closer to the level it needs to be, the midfield players complement each other’s strengths and we have pace up front. I don’t think for one moment that the job is done; more importantly, neither does Marco Silva. Before the last two games I thought that a win over Cardiff by 3 or 4 goals and a 0-1 or 1-2 at Mordor would constitute 10 out of 10. I think we came out with a 6 or a 7 if I’m generous. So work to be done, Mr Silva.
Where does Marco feel there is need for improvement if he keeps the current shape? As we all seem to agree, keeping Gomes is essential but is Gana Gueye the best we can do to partner him? The lad has played well in many games this season but I feel he goes missing a bit when we need him most. James McCarthy might be a good option if he can ever fully recover and he does have that devilment about him but the one I’d love to see develop alongside Gomes is Beni Baningime. This lad looks composed, can tackle, pass and move, and doesn’t look like much frightens him. Similarly, on the books and ready and willing is Ademola Lookman. This kid has a swagger that some people criticise as arrogant. Colin Harvey was arrogant on the pitch and there was nothing wrong with that! Everyone likes Theo but the end product just is not there. Time to go back where it all started for him at Southampton?So much for internal possibilities, but where do we find a 25-goal-a-season striker? I’m sure that Marcel Brands has more idea than I but it is becoming clear that Silva is not going to accept the level of a Niasse or a Tosun. As fans we all want these lads to do well but Silva has that streak of meanness about him in which there is no place for sentimentality. Either you are good enough and have the right attitude for my team or you’re out.
I’m not sure about Niasse at all and Tosun seems to me to be one of those strikers like Chris Woods who wobble between Championship and Premier League. Will DCL cut it? Maybe. But he seems to me to becoming more of a Graeme Sharpe who will score a decent amount himself but whose main attribute was making space for the likes of Sheedy, Steven and even Mountfield to weigh in. Oh for a Jimmy Greaves; silky goalscorer supreme who, in his own words, said a striker needs to move fast and think slow, that is moving rapidly into a position where he could take his time about how to beat the keeper, and he was a dirty little bastard, too!
Tonight, it’s Newcastle, then 5 days later, Watford. Both at Goodison and both under the lights. The perfect opportunity to get the derby out of all our systems. Silva will send them out to play with no fear and expecting to win. That is not arrogance. It’s the mentality of a winner and I am glad we have Marco Silva to dispel the dark cloud that enveloped Mordor last time out.
Reader Comments (3)
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1 Posted 06/12/2018 at 13:28:12
Unfortunately, there are still question-marks surrounding shape and personnel in our forward positions. Why don't we see Bernard and Walcott switch around more?
I think we have had our strongest 11 out recently and Silva identified that quite quickly (not just yet for Lookman but he's getting there). The only other argument for me would be if our strongest 11 had 3 centre-backs.
2 Posted 06/12/2018 at 15:47:24
Last night proved there is still a lot of work to be done by Brands and Silva — that is not a criticism because, in the short time they've been here, they have done remarkably well.
I feel we are well on the way to becoming a very strong club and team under the care of the above two. We will see a few disappointing nights like the Newcastle game but less and less as the club takes shape. I am once again happy to be going to the match because it is a pleasure to see attacking football.
Early days and I understand the impatience of some fans, because we have waited years and years for a team that will threaten for trophies... I'm positive that wait is nearly over.
3 Posted 07/12/2018 at 23:26:53
Apologies, if you are someone else.
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