Time for Silva to show he can coach

Dave Williams 27/01/2019 24comments  |  Jump to last
Having braved Torquay seafront to walk the dog in a biting wind and the odd flake of snow, I have had time to reflect on last night and ponder on what we should do next.

Unless there is a change of heart, Moshiri clearly thinks he has given Silva sufficient funds to build the foundations of a decent side and it is difficult to argue with that. The fact that we need a striker hasn’t changed since pre-season, so Silva must have thought he could manage.

Yesterday was truly appalling; having scored twice away from home, we had every right to expect a win.

The time is nigh for Silva to show us whether or not he really is a good coach. A simple example is Richarlison – sit him down and ram it home to stop play-acting and toughen up, put yourself about and leave defenders on the floor rather than yourself. This is easy but would improve him overnight.

Drum it into Digne and his defensive colleagues that they cannot continue to give needless free-kicks away in areas where the opposition can get a high ball into the box. It’s one of the most basic lessons for defenders – get goal side and don’t lunge in – yet our highly paid defenders continue to do it. Again, this is easy to address but they need telling in no uncertain terms.

Zonal marking simply has to be abandoned but is Silva man enough to admit his error in persisting with it? I was a centre-half in my school days and, as the tallest in our team, I was always told to mark the opposition's tallest player at set-pieces unless he moved out to the wide positions where his aerial ability was not a threat. Anyone can see that the opposition are putting tall guys on our full backs and they are winning the ball with ease and either heading for goal or putting a second ball into the 6-yard box.

Any 6-feet tall player will outjump Baines, Digne, Coleman or Kenny at the post and it is a blindingly obvious tactic to adopt. Surely it makes more sense to tell our two massive centre-halves to mark the big guys in the opposition team and attack the ball. The smaller full-backs defend the goal line and attack the second ball rather than stand and look, as in yesterday, whilst the opposition queue up to put it in the net.

If the tactic is to leave Pickford on his line, then the centre-backs have to attack and win the ball. Why can’t Pickford at least punch the ball and take out the opposition player while doing it? He is glued to his line and, with zonal marking meaning that the centre-backs are not marking the big attackers, we are terribly vulnerable. I am no tactician but this is surely very basic stuff?

The centre-backs seem too far apart when they mess around, passing the ball between them; we lose so much momentum by continually doing this as, by the time we decide to move it forward, everyone is tightly marked. Richarlison should be able to wreak havoc as he is bigger, stronger and faster than most full-backs but he needs a bit of space to get going.

The midfield just isn’t working – not enough energy (we have two of the slowest players in the Premier League in Sigurdsson and Gomes), no bite, and no-one sitting in front of the back four and keeping shape. The wide men rarely get the ball in space which results in the striker getting poor service and being very closely marked when the ball does get to him. Calvert-Lewin received his customary ear-bashing yesterday but what do we expect from a young player with zero support and crap service?

Assuming Silva remains for now, at least he has to show some ability to coach this squad. He has to sort zonal marking; he has to sort Pickford and the defence when crosses come in; he has to stop his defence from giving away stupid free kicks in dangerous areas; and he has to get Richarlison to grow up and act like a man. This should all be basic stuff.

He needs to rethink his midfield which is not easy. We miss Fellaini who would often be the first to the ball to head crosses clear and he would sit in front of the back four and protect it all game. Schneiderlin would be the man for this but we all know how poor and disinterested he has been. Joe Williams might be able to do it but he is on loan. Beni Baningime was looking good but seems riddled with injury this season.

Tom Davies would add energy and grit but his passing has been no better than Gana. Even Besic would have been worth a look but of course he too is out on loan. I would consider Baines – his pace has gone but he is the best passer in the squad, has a good footballing brain and has the nous to know how to play the role, sit in front of the back four and stay there or, if not, then play him wide-left midfield. Play Gana and Gomes with him if the latter is fit – if not, I’d play Bernard rather than Sigurdsson:

Kenny Keane Zouma Digne
Lookman Gana Baines Bernard
Richarlison Calvert-Lewin

Having thought and played around with that team for a while, it struck me that it is not a change in personnel that will make the difference but a change in tactics, coaching and approach. Getting a fighting spirit is not easy in a team with no local players (as yesterday) but other clubs manage it. Sort out the basic issues — which should be easy for a guy reputed to be a high quality coach — and things should get better quickly... but does Silva have it in him to do it?

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Reader Comments (24)

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Jim Bennings
1 Posted 27/01/2019 at 18:57:02
Silva needs a monumental upturn in results to buy patience.

We were told after we beat Burnley on Boxing Day that January would be the month when we really started seeing a surge in positive results following the games against the big six.

Well January has basically killed us flat dead and has been worse than December.

The next four games are absolutely horrible for a team and manager that are under intense scrutiny.

Man City

I can't see many positive results from those games the way we are playing and – if they yield four negative results – then that could be it for Marco.

David Pearl
2 Posted 27/01/2019 at 19:02:52
He's had time already, Dave. As soon as it goes wrong, he doesn't know how to fix it or change it. I agree with that.

I don't agree with your line up or formation though. I've been saying all year our players don't fit into the 4-3-2-1 model and are much better suited to 3-4-3.

Sigurdsson should be playing deeper and time his runs forward better. That would then issolate our striker so l understand why he plays further forward. But if the other forward players played narrow this would work out so Sigurdsson could then help to pack the middle. So even a 4-3-3.

But, whatever the reason, the current formation stopped working weeks and weeks ago. Players are now out of sorts, out of confidence. They start slowly and if we do start slow Silva has no answers.

When Keane loses his confidence he starts playing like a little boy. Zonal marking can work if the right amount of aggression and common sense are used. It's been effective for a lot of top teams. We know our full backs are on the small side but a centre back dragged out of position also causes problems. Again that's fixed with 3 at the back. The squad should of been utilised much better and certainly in Tosun who hasn't really had a sniff, doubt he is good enough but he can finish.

There are only a few teams in the Premier League that you can look at and think they are higher than they should be because of the coaching... Wolves spring to mind. We are lower than we should be. It's a shame because it looked like he was building something. I just can't see him turning this around.

John Raftery
3 Posted 27/01/2019 at 19:05:16
Jim - we won't be playing Man City until later in the season because they are playing in the Carabao Cup Final the weekend we were due to play them.

Our next four are the other three you list plus Cardiff.

Dave Williams
4 Posted 27/01/2019 at 19:07:17
A tricky run Jim but one where we should be expecting at least 7 points, possibly 9.

I agree if it goes badly it could be curtains – ironic if that was after the Watford game!

Brent Stephens
5 Posted 27/01/2019 at 19:07:42
John - We play Man City on 6 February.
Dave Williams
6 Posted 27/01/2019 at 19:11:02
David @343 – that could be interesting. Sigurdsson one of the middle two in the four? It would certainly give us a spare giant to cope with the high balls!
John G Davies
7 Posted 27/01/2019 at 19:14:58
To spin it around.... the opposing coach doesn't have to be a genius.

Team talk: "Play into the corners. Get free-kicks and corners. Drop the ball either on the 6-yard box (the keeper deffo won't leave his line) and win the first or second ball. Or put your best header of a ball past the far post, he will only need to beat a full back in the air."

I have called for Silva to be given time. I can't deny the evidence of my eyes, though...

Clive Mitchell
8 Posted 27/01/2019 at 19:38:12
Frank McGregor
9 Posted 27/01/2019 at 20:03:11
I cannot see any possibility of improvement, to be honest.

I feel this will be a season all Everton fans will remember for a long, long, time: Liverpool winning the Premier League and Everton relegated to the Championship.

John Pierce
10 Posted 27/01/2019 at 20:03:26
Dave these are all decent points, but they've been present in Silva's team from the get-go, and in previous clubs he's managed.

Even in the positive waves of results, it took us ages to break down Palace, Fulham & Cardiff.

The zonal bit is I'm afraid here to stay, with VAR coming in you want the least amount of contact by your defence in the box. Zonal is about the ball not the player when it's done well.

That point is the single most damning against Silva. He has used this system and plainly has no idea how to mitigate other teams, a trope of every team he's managed in England. So why hasn't he gotten in a specialist? Either he's unaware or arrogant. The latter!

Do we even have a specific defensive coach? I'd argue, whatever else that ails the team, if this point had been worked through and improved, we'd be 7th and still in the cup.

He would still have favour and a platform to work from. He has patently tried to run before he can walk.

Roberto was the same but he luckily had a defensive unit in situ. Without it, they are all but identical.

Silva's problems are his own making, for me, it's tipped too far. If he left tomorrow, I wouldn't bat an eyelid.

Derek Taylor
11 Posted 27/01/2019 at 20:09:08
Avoid defeat to Huddersfield and Silva will be given until season's end. Moshiri is listening to Steve Ferns who knows a thing or two about this game !
Eddie Dunn
12 Posted 27/01/2019 at 20:31:58
Dave do you realise that you have selected the shortest midfield four in world football.
Lookman, Gana, Baines and Bernard.
They would be destroyed by most PL monsters.

James Stewart
13 Posted 27/01/2019 at 20:45:55
We can all ponder as much as we want, it won't change the fact that Silva is stubborn as a mule. He won't abandon zonal marking so we either get used to that or get rid of him.

Silva was a piss poor appointment in the first place. Ditto Koeman and Allardyce. Moshiri needs someone with more football knowledge to make the next big call.

David Pearl
14 Posted 27/01/2019 at 20:45:55
Eddie, that's true but Man City have a small team and cope by managing the game, keeping the ball.

Gomes has really been a let down the last month, a completely different player. He needs players around him to link with. I've noticed he struggles to pass the ball to teammate who is more than 10 yards away.

As a team, our poise and confidence is gone. How we could be so poor defending set pieces is bewildering.

Dave is right in saying Silva needs to step up and coach these players. They are young and if mismanaged it could damage them... then again, if coached well, there's a lot promise. Instead of this disappointment.

Dave Williams
15 Posted 27/01/2019 at 20:54:56
Eddie, you're quite right, that struck me after I posted it but in all honesty I am struggling to suggest a team at the moment because every way I look I see players not playing well, not getting stuck into the game with no-one really pushing for a place in the team.

I think we have put too many out on loan, which is limiting our options, albeit most of the loaners weren't doing it anyway.

We are a mess and, as I said, Silva has to show us what he is made of now or face the consequences.

Dick Fearon
16 Posted 27/01/2019 at 21:59:10
There is so much common sense in each of the above posts. I fail to understand why Silva is unable or unwilling to rectify the glaring problems.

The crowd should rip into the first of our players who starts one of those mind-numbing sequences of back-passing that ends up with Pickford blasting it long and high toward forwards that have no idea on how to receive it.

Rob Marsh
17 Posted 27/01/2019 at 23:20:48
Hello All ToffeeWebers,

This is a first post, that I was going to do yesterday in the heat of the moment, but backed off until today.

After watching our team dominate a bog standard team struggling from a lower league and then with consummate ease close the game out for a trouble free passage to the next round... dream on.

We are where we are!

The team/squad going into last nights game is one lacking confidence and not getting the basics right, there's no debate to be had about this, most Evertonians and outsiders will agree, I believe.

Our opponents like most Championship sides err towards the physical rather than the skillful and so, when I examined Silva's formation and personnel for this match, I was dismayed. That was a physical team (Millwall) looking to play the direct route and keep the ball if possible down our end of the pitch. The conditions were atrocious and not conducive to passing, as was demonstrated, they were back in numbers and found our passing game easy to stifle.

They played to their strengths and got some head tennis going that suited them and the conditions much more than our attempt as a poor mans Arsenal with a slick skillful passing game.

Silva had no idea how to set up the team for the conditions and the opposition he was facing, we should have gone 4-4-2 or 5-3-2 with our most physical presence, kept the game in midfield, stifled them and then looked to steal it. Cenk Tosun showed what was possible if we'd have kept them under any kind of sustained pressure.

Marco Silva showed a total lack of understanding of the British game on a winter's night, sometimes you just have to roll your sleeves up and do what's got to be done with what you've got and not expect a team that's playing poorly to enter the lion's den (pun intended!) and fight a lion!

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
18 Posted 27/01/2019 at 23:49:03
Frank McGregor. Relax. We already have 30 points.

Fulham have 14. By this stage last year, West Brom had 23 and they finished with 31. So what for Fulham? – less than 30.

Cardiff have 19. By this stage last year, Stoke had 26 and finished on 33. So what for Cardiff? – less than 30.

Huddersfield have 11. By this stage last year, they had 20 and finished on 37. I can't see them getting near 30.

Season 2019-20, now that will be the worry.

Simon Jones
19 Posted 28/01/2019 at 11:18:13
Phil #18,

Spot on, I've been working this out for weeks as 7 teams have less points than games played, I reckon that 33 or 34 will be enough to stay up.

In turn, I think this takes some of the pressure off us in terms of pure results, but the manner of the games (and how we lose) is the frustration now. There surely must be an opportunity and a necessity to try either different combinations of defence, or maybe throw one of the old heads in (Baines or Jags) to at least try and marshall the defence.

They both played under Moyes and at least we always had a decent defence under his tenure. At the moment, any free kick or corner in our half must feel like giving a penalty away, so poor are we at defending them.

Matthew Williams
20 Posted 28/01/2019 at 15:34:43
Moshiri must have a word and tell Silva that he must achieve 7th place and qualify for Europa League football next season, or lose his job. He put us in this mess; he should get the chance to put it right... starting tomorrow night.
Derek Taylor
21 Posted 28/01/2019 at 16:58:42
Matt, I agree with the sentiment of your post but suspect a tenth/ eleventh place finish will be enough for Siva to keep his job.

Gone are the days when Moyes would get moaned at for 'boring 6/7 ish'places - standards have dropped a great deal since we've had money. You must have noticed.

James Newcombe
22 Posted 28/01/2019 at 17:58:56
Do we want European football next season? I do love the games on the continent but it always ruins the domestic season (and how much further can we fall on that front?!). I have my doubts this squad would do themselves justice, as we keep seeing.
Seb Niemand
23 Posted 29/01/2019 at 00:25:34
Time? With us in the bottom half of the table, with us having another season of nothing to play for, with the players looking as abject and morose as they did any time under Koeman or the accursed Martinez? He has no time. His taxi needs be called. His day is done.
Bill Watson
24 Posted 29/01/2019 at 01:32:43
Silva has hinted he may change the formation vs Huddersfield. He'll have to change something as this team is totally devoid of any sort of confidence or cohesion.

On Saturday, both Millwall and Everton had free kicks around the half way line. They played theirs forward and scored off one of them. Ours ended up back with Pickford from where we, painfully slowly, passed it back to the halfway line where we lost it again. It's mind-numbingly boring and predictable and we must be one of the easiest sides to play against – even before you consider the shambolic zonal marking from set pieces.

Pickford is receiving criticism for failing to deal with high balls into the box but I understand he's under instructions to stay on his line and let the centre-backs deal with them. The basic flaw with Silva's zonal marking is that with a high line our defenders are often facing the wrong way and so are slow to react to the second ball. We've conceded, time and again, after Pickford has made a stop only for our defenders to stand there watching the opposition score from the second ball.

As others on here have said, it's really basic stuff. Abandon zonal marking, bolster the midfield where we are always overrun and try to get the players to pass to each other and not to the opposition. Stop this nonsense of slowly playing the ball out from Pickford only for it to end up back him when he's forced to punt it anywhere upfield because he's closed down.

Can Silva sort it out? Hopefully, but I have my doubts. Millwall was a rerun of Southampton and Brighton. The man doesn't learn and carries on playing the same formation and making the same substitutions game after game.

Failure to get something from Huddersfield and Wolves will surely spell the end.

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