Short-Term or Long-Term?

Russell Smith 24/09/2019 26comments  |  Jump to last

Like many posters on ToffeeWeb, I am brassed off with the poor start we have made to the season considering the relatively "easier" opposition we have faced to date. However, the number of posters calling for Marco Silva to be sacked, and that he is not passionate enough, complaining that Marcel Brands has made some poor signings, and that we have no identity or style, seems to me to be a little short-sighted and short-term in its thinking.

Let’s just go back 18 months when Sam Allardyce was in charge, when we really were rubbish, playing with no identity or purpose. This forum was awash with people wanting us to get rid of Allardyce, wanting us to play fast, stylish, attacking football, who wanted our younger players to be given more of a chance, wanted the "old" rubbish moving out of the squad to be replaced by younger, hungrier players, or better quality players. Many demanded that we play with the "Everton" style of yesteryear (meaning the start of the 70s and the mid-80s).

Enter Silva and Brands who had to start from a position with a bloated squad filled with chancers, "past its" and "never make its". In their first transfer window they brought in Digne, Richarlison, Gomes, Zouma, Bernard and Mina. These players ticked all the boxes many were crying out for. Young, better quality, seemingly wanting to come and play for Everton. They started to rid the squad of many who were never going to make it at Everton but, because of the bloated salaries that they had all been "lured" on, they had to be loaned rather than transferred permanently.


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Silva started to get us to play with some style; we all got excited, we were going to break into the top six. Then we had the winter slump. Silva was useless, his signings were rubbish. Then the team finally started playing how Silva wanted and we ended the season on a high. At the end of the season, most agreed that all the new signings (Mina excluded, mainly because of injury) had settled in well, had improved the team, and that we were playing with a style that we had missed for some time. The run-in at the end of last season even lifted Goodison Park back to what it used to be in terms of getting behind the team.

The close season started with us knowing we needed a centre-forward; we needed to retain Gueye, if possible; we needed to permanently sign Zouma. These three positions were the spine of the team and, whilst Calvert-Lewin had done well in the final run-in, it was obvious to most that he would struggle to score regularly. As we now know, none of these "essentials" were realised. The loss of Gana was tempered by the purchase of Gbamin, following the now-established — and supported by most on this site — pattern of buying young, emerging talent who actually wanted to come to Everton.

Despite the undoubted efforts to sign Zouma, or a suitable replacement, this failed – something Silva was clearly unhappy about before the season began. Filling the centre-forward position was always going to be difficult and to find a 15- to 20-goal-a-season striker who we could either afford or who would want to come to Everton was never going to be easy. However, still trying to follow the chosen path of buying young emerging talent, we have brought in Moise Kean.

Again, everyone pre-season was happy with this. Adding Delph, Sidibé and Iwobi (another young player) continued the re-building of the squad with the emphasis on youth, and with a definite upgrade in abilities even if they were not precise like-for-like replacements. Once again, many "hangers-on" were transferred or loaned out. Everyone on here seemed to be in agreement with this policy – except with regard to Jonjoe Kenny and Ademola Lookman. One needed game time which wasn't guaranteed if he stayed; the other didn't want to be here.

Pre-season, almost half the squad was absent on international duty or were signed late in the window, so had no time to train, let alone play together. At the start of the season, I suspect Silva would have been looking to play 4-3-3, his known preferred system, but, due to late signings of some of the key players to make this system work, he had to start with basically the same team and set up as last season. Delph, Gbamin (Gana's replacement), and Gomes would have been key players in this system. All have been injured during the first 7 games and have hardly played together. With the fit players at his disposal, it is difficult for him to change the playing formation.

So the team is once again adapting to the new players. Unfortunately Mina isn't Zouma and, as a result, Keane looks poor again. Coleman, whilst still giving his all, is in decline; Sigurdsson and Richarlison, our two main goa scorers in the system we play, are both off-form, and Moise Kean will need time as we cannot expect a 19-year-old kid to suddenly become the answer to our goal-scoring malaise.

So we have started very badly, but there are extenuating circumstances. The players being recruited were bought to play in a certain formation but, up to now, due to injury or loss of form to key players, Silva has not been able to field his best side, or play in the manner required. He has had to use the players he does have available and try to mould them into what he requires… many are falling short.

But let us not get away from the fact that we are re-building from a very expensively arranged disaster brought on by our past two managers.

Whilst I accept that we cannot keep waiting, year on year, for things to improve, if we continuously keep changing managers and playing philosophies, these problems will just re-occur and we will never get to where we all want our great club to be.

In conclusion I would say:

  1. We do have a more coherent and thought-through transfer policy which both Brands and Silva have introduced.
  2. The quality and potential of the squad is better (although many are currently off-form).
  3. The longer-term reducing of the age of the squad is undoubtedly better.
  4. We do have a manager, irrespective of what your views on his tactical knowledge are, who believes passionately in the club and who clearly hurts as badly as we do when things do not go to plan
  5. Brands has a proven record at his past two clubs of resurrecting failing giants, but he didn't do it in 15 months at either club. He needs time.

This is not the time to "start again"; we need to keep faith with the longer-term objectives and planning that both Silva and Brands have introduced. Form will improve as the various injured players return and Silva gets to play his preferred formations. We still need Zouma (or someone similar) in the next window and if possible a proven striker but we should not try to take a short-term fix and, in the process, cock-up the longer-term outcome.

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Reader Comments (26)

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Derek Knox
1 Posted 24/09/2019 at 18:21:54
Good article Russell which basically says it as it is, I know we as fans can be accused of being fickle, but that to a degree is understandable, how many false dawns have there been?

I think most have realised that Silva, another in a line of unsuccessful candidates for the job, who has realised the job is way over his capacity to cope with. The old saying " a good craftsman, never blames his tools " rings true, and while we may not exactly be over-staffed with World Class players, I don't believe the majority have suddenly become that poor in a short space of time.

It has to be down to the Manager, and I'm afraid the buck stops with him. Either way if he hasn't got a recognisable system of football (which I personally doubt) or he can't get it across to the players to perform, something has to change!

Jerome Shields
2 Posted 24/09/2019 at 19:06:41
Russell. Your article describes the ups and downs of progress at Everton, starting from a low point and hampering by what happened previously. Running parallel is Moshir slowly getting control of the Club, which has had its ups and downs as well.

There have been improvements, but still a lot of work to be done. You need a core of steady management to keep progressing In Inevitability the areas that are more difficult to sort out, will raise their ugly head as and may only become apparent when the pressure is on.

You are right that changing Silva would not help this process. I don't think Brands will panic and Moshiri will listen to him.

I felt in the past that when Manager is under pressure, the backroom staff and players have not helped, even may have helped him on his way. I don't think that will work with Brands about.

Steve Ferns
3 Posted 24/09/2019 at 19:09:54
Good article Russell. Let’s see how we get on tonight as that will determine the flavour of the comments to your article.
Stan Schofield
5 Posted 24/09/2019 at 23:17:01
I agree that sacking Silva would be wrong. He has already shown last season an ability to get the team working as an efficient and entertaining machine. The problem is two-fold: Lack of consistency needed to maintain momentum, and mental fragility as soon as we lose momentum. That said, Silva demonstrated, following the post-Anfield slump of last season, an ability to get things going again, albeit after the slump lasted three months.

Those two problems have been with us for some time, so they are 'Everton problems'. Whether Silva can produce consistency, and the mental toughness needed to overcome inevitable set-backs routinely, remains to be seen. The only way to know is to give him more time.

James Lauwervine
6 Posted 24/09/2019 at 23:21:53
Nice article, Russell, and very well written. I agree with pretty much all of what you say. We were starting to look pretty good in that latter part of last season then unavoidably lost two key players. It will take a while (and be difficult) to replace them to the same level and then overall to improve on the team in general.
Derek Taylor
7 Posted 25/09/2019 at 13:01:49
Sack Silva ? Certainly not. Let's wait until we are safely ensconced in the last half-dozen positions in the Prem and then get Moysey back to save the Club's bacon !

Most of the team's shortcomings were addressed last night at Wednesday and DCL even bagged a brace to prove his value as a star striker and the answer to our prayers !

Kenn Crawford
8 Posted 25/09/2019 at 22:39:41
Derek, I hope you are not serious about bringing Moyes back. 11 years without an away win against the top four 11 years with nothing to show for it. Yes, in the first couple of years, he stabilised the club, which we all appreciated, but he was not a winner and never will be. Sacked from his last 3 clubs and still has nothing to show for any team he coached, so please let's not talk about him anymore.

Russell, good article with a lot of good points, but I have not seen us play stylish attractive football many times under Silva. He is a one-system manager and, when it does not work, he simply will not change it. Week after week, we concede from set-pieces; week after week, the same formation; week after week, the same slow sideways passing.

So how long do we wait before we get rid of this second-tier manager?

Martin Mason
9 Posted 25/09/2019 at 23:12:41
Russell, you are right, it would be lunacy to sack Silva now. We will have to hold our noses and suffer humiliation and just hope that it's short term and that Silva will come good. The 1984 Everton rise to success was a massive shock at the time and it could happen again.
Derek Taylor
10 Posted 27/09/2019 at 15:59:10
We've had two decent managers in more than 30 years and, for certain, Silva is not one of them. But, of course he won't get sacked unless we find our team in the bottom third. And that could happen this season !
David Pearl
11 Posted 27/09/2019 at 16:16:00
Certain players look up to Silva. And while Moyes bought a knife to a gun fight he also never had £20m+ players in each position on the pitch, plus a few more on the bench. Silva has improved us to an extent but l don't think he can improve us any further. He has found some kind of balance but it wont work with the formation he persist in. Another manager needs to come in now to take us to another level or else we will tread water.
Danny Broderick
12 Posted 27/09/2019 at 16:45:23
We’ve got to get away from the desire to sack the manager every year. There’s always a reason to turn against the manager:

Moyes was too defensive.
Martinez couldn’t defend and spoke shite.
Koeman never got us and the football wasn’t good enough.
Allardyce was fat Sam and the football was terrible.
Silva now lacks passion.

There are some truths in all of these statements, but changing the manager every year hasn’t exactly worked for us has it?

We had the 4th best defence in the league last year, and were playing some great football at the end of the season. Hopefully Iwobi, Gbamin, Gomes, Kean and maybe Sidibé will give us something this year once they have settled in.

The last thing we need now are the perennial calls for the manager’s head now that we have lost 2/3 games...

Tony Everan
13 Posted 27/09/2019 at 17:47:49
Good article Russell. I too have faith still in Silva and Brands .

Losing Gana, then Gomes and Gbamin getting injured has damaged us more than anything.

Losing Zouma was a blow, but not all the defensive problems can be laid at Mina's door. I think the disjointed midfield, because of the reasons above, has preciptated our leaky defence.

Our forward line is better than the last ¼ of last season when we were on the march. I just don't think Silva has been configuring it right. Playing Kean through the middle against Sheffield Utd was a poor one. There were 30 crosses in the game, with that tactic, surely Calvert-Lewin should have been chosen, with Moise Kean coming on at 60 mins to play an attacking wide role.

The midfield will suffer again on Saturday against Man City unless we have an ultra combative closing-down attitude. Norwich did it and City suffered. Norwich worked for that win with pure graft.

We need to win battles like that on our own turf; against the better sides, we have to be prepared to graft for 90 mins and fight to the death to win. The top sides resent it and expect us to roll over. This attribute is Silva's duty to instill.

If we can out-battle Man City there will be chances against their makeshift defence. We can get a result.

Jay Harris
14 Posted 27/09/2019 at 18:06:07
Good article Russell, although I remain dissatisfied with Silva due to his formation, selections and tactics marred further by his in game changes which have been poor.

Although I have little faith I think we need to give him the chance to get Gbamin fit and Kean up and running and then judge whether he is just a relegation manager or a potential winner.

I believe Brands has been a good appointment and has certainly improved the quality of the squad but the jury is still out on whether Silva can mould this quality into an effective team.

Derek Taylor
15 Posted 27/09/2019 at 18:30:47
I don't see how the argument for retaining duff managers regardless of their failure can be justified. All the teams who win things change managers with impunity. To them the role is just an extension of that of a player. Even the very best get the push. Ask Mourhino!
Rory Grant
16 Posted 27/09/2019 at 19:03:32
Derek stated what this is all about. Winning.
Not transition, project or whatever you want to use as an excuse for mediocrity and failure. Results are simply measured against the means and resources we have in our use. Silva has not delivered nor shown any indication he is able to produce any results. No matter how much resources he is given.

Allardyce "playing with no identity or purpose". Could you Russell clarify to us what are Silva's "identity or purpose"? I have not seen any sign of them so would be relieved to learn.

Michael Lynch
17 Posted 27/09/2019 at 19:08:33
Was this written by Silva's agent?

To be fair, I wouldn't sack him either - mainly because I'm not sure who we'd replace him with. However, I did read that we had £317M worth of footballers on the pitch against Sheffield Utd last Saturday and, from my seat, we didn't look like £317M worth of football team.

If I was Moshiri, I think I'd be quite keen to see some return on my investment sometime soon. It's all very well to see us as a work in progress, but there seems to be precious little progression.

Danny Broderick
18 Posted 27/09/2019 at 19:27:16
Derek (15),

Chopping and changing managers every year has left us with a mish-mash of a squad, some of whom are on top dollar that we are struggling to get rid of.

It's much better to avoid changing managers if we can, and to at least have a consistent approach to the way we are supposed to play, player recruitment, player development etc.

If it is not working out after 3-5 years, then we should change, but we need to get away from knee-jerk reactions and changing manager's every 18 months.

Steavey Buckley
19 Posted 27/09/2019 at 19:29:14
This another season Everton have started badly that will lead to another failed season in the premier league. So, what is the point of football at EFC, while most teams in the PL are happy to survive season after season because there is nowhere else to go but downwards to the championship? Everton have saddled themselves with expectations of being in the top 4 since 2013 when Martinez promised fans he would take them there.

The main problem this season has been a lack of a striker who could score goals regularly. DCL made the big difference between Everton and Sheffield Wednesday last Tuesday by scoring those 2 goals in quick succession. If he had been prolific in Everton's first 6 premier league matches, Everton would be closer to the top than finding themselves in a disappointing position with 7 points from 6 matches.

I do not understand the point of having an under 23 team if they are not supplying players for the 1st team. Yet, Everton will cling on to under 23 players season after season with them having no hope of making the 1st team. It does appear whoever chooses players for the under 23s does not believe they can make the 1st team with all of them failing season after season accept for Tom Davies even though he struggles to get a game in the 1st team.

Eugene Kearney
20 Posted 27/09/2019 at 19:37:59
We maybe did not look like a £317M team against Sheffield Utd but I think Russell has laid it all out as-it-is quite well in this article and I totally agree with his viewpoints.

Do we want Allardyce back?
Do we want Koeman back?
Do we want Moyes back?

I am as upset and pissed off as anyone at our results in matches against Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Bournemouth and Sheffield Utd but until Silva ca get the right balance in the team to play the system and style that he wants... we need to be patient (and thankful that it's not Koeman or Allardyce at the helm) and trust that Silva things will come good soon.


Mike Gaynes
21 Posted 27/09/2019 at 19:56:51
Danny #18, I think you're talking about two separate issues here.

The "mish mash" of a squad (my grandmother used to say that!) is being sorted out by Brands, very well in my opinion. How Silva uses that squad is a different matter.

The DOF and the manager are not joined at the hip. One hires, and ultimately fires, the other. My prediction is that, come next summer, Brands will be shopping for a CB, a creative midfielder and a new manager. Probably not in that order.

Michael Lynch
22 Posted 27/09/2019 at 21:23:34
Eugene, no I don't want Allardyce, Koeman or Moyes back, but I tend to agree with Mike Gaynes – if things don't improve, Silva will be gone at the end of the season and, in a year's time, I'll be adding Marco Silva to the list of managers I don't want back at the club.
Rob Halligan
23 Posted 27/09/2019 at 21:34:05
I can't believe that the name Allardyce is still mentioned on here. We should all erase that name from our memory forever. I still shudder when a mate of mine, who I go the away matches with, not only thinks he was good for us, but he deserved a 3-year contract. The mind boggles!!
Danny Baily
24 Posted 27/09/2019 at 21:57:04
Danny 18, as long as we're well clear of the relegation zone then Silva can have his 3-5 years. I didn't feel like it was a knee jerk reaction getting rid of Koeman as we were clearly in trouble. Same applies to Silva.
Mike Gaynes
25 Posted 27/09/2019 at 22:20:43
Rob #23, I think you need to slip something anti-psychotic into your mate's next beer. Poor sod is beset with delusions.
Brent Stephens
26 Posted 27/09/2019 at 22:25:27
Rob. "I still shudder when a mate of mine, who I go the away matches with, not only thinks he was good for us, but he deserved a 3-year contract."

You keep some strange company, Rob.

Danny Broderick
27 Posted 28/09/2019 at 04:57:47
Mike (21),

Brands’ work is not independent of the manager. He might do all the contractual stuff and negotiating, but he is not acting alone in buying and selling players - Silva is just as involved in deciding who we buy and sell. If we change manager, that throws the balance of the squad up in the air again.

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