Encouraging signs for Everton as they emerge from Big Sam’s shadow

As last season came to a close Everton fans were at their wits end, boring negative football had become the order of the day at Goodison Park as Sam Allardyce guided the Toffees to a respectable eight place finish.

While an eight place finish would usually be considered a successful season any other year, Everton fans were deeply unhappy with the style of football on show.

After taking over from Ronald Koeman in November of last year, Big Sam hit the ground running, going undefeated in his first seven games, as Everton put any chance of a relegation battle firmly behind them.

While Everton fans were uneasy at Big Sam’s initial appointment, his turnaround of the club’s fortunes immediately put any of that anxiety to bed.

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Unfortunately, Big Sam couldn’t continue this good form and Everton only won six Premier League matches after the turn of the year.

With Big Sam’s tactics beginning to falter and big name signing’s continuing to struggle for form under his style of play, fan discontent was rising in the stands, with chants and banners calling for Allardyce to leave.

Only three days after Everton’s final match of the season, Everton fans got their wish and Allardyce was sacked.

While Big Sam was only on Merseyside for a little over six months, his shadow still looms large as Everton build towards the future, with the manager they always wanted.

The arrival of Marco Silva

At the end of May, Marco Silva became the fourth Everton manager in the five years since David Moyes left the club.

Although the 41-year-old was the Everton board’s initial choice to replace Ronald Koeman, Watford’s refusal to let Silva speak with Everton put an end to move to Merseyside for the Portuguese manager.

Since arriving in England in January 2017 Silva has been in charge of three clubs and has made lasting impressions at all three.

When he arrived in England to take over at Hull City, he was faced with the unenviable task of getting the team out of the relegation zone.

Initially Hull’s form improved once Silva came onboard and with three games to go, he had successfully taken Hull out of the relegation zone.

Unfortunately, Hull lost their three remaining games of the season and were relegated from the Premier League and four days later Silva resigned as manager. Two days later Silva was appointed Watford manager.

Under Silva, Watford started the season in a rich vein of form and were competing for a Champions League place before Everton made their first approach for Silva.

This brief flirtation with Everton distracted Silva and Watford’s form began to suffer. From riding high in a Europa League spot, Watford fell to mid table mediocrity and the owners were unhappy with Silva eventually sacking him in mid January.

Silva went to ground over the next few months and little was heard from the former Sporting Lisbon boss.

In the meantime as previously mentioned, Sam Allardyce was alienating the fans at Goodison Park and Silva was seen as his obvious successor once the season was up, and after months of speculation it was announced on May 27th that Marco Silva was appointed Everton manager.

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So far so good

While pre-season was a hard slog for Everton as Silva tried to bring the players around to his style of attack focused football, which focuses on possession and playing balls through the lines of the defence.

With plenty of money invested in the side last summer, Everton invested heavily once again, spending £20 million on left back Lucas Digne from Barcelona and Silva went back to his former club Watford to buy the Brazilian Richarlison for a fee that could rise to £50 million.

Also acquired during pre-season were the likes of Andre Gomes from Barcelona and Kurt Zouma from Chelsea on season long loan deals.

Everton began the season with a hard fought draw against Wolves at Molineux, playing with ten men for the majority of the match after Phil Jagielka was sent off.

In Everton’s first match at Goodison Park under Marco Silva against Southampton, the Toffees faithful finally got to see what kind of football they will be playing under their new manager.

An impressive display by Everton, with the adventurous way they play the ball forward has now given the fans a renewed sense of hope for the first time in over a year.

After going two nil up, Everton continued piling on the pressure and continued to attack even after Southampton pulled one goal back.

To make things even better for Everton fan, players who seemed stifled by Big Sam’s way of playing now seem reinvigorated under Silva, with the likes of Gylfi Sigurðsson back to his best.

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What next?

Although some Everton fans may have some slight concerns that Silva’s strong start may be undone like it was at Watford, this time it does not seem like the case.

After going through six clubs to date during his short managerial career, Silva will be looking to put down roots and prove himself as a manager in the biggest league in the world, and right now there is no better place to do this than at Everton.

Ever since Farhad Moshiri bought a stake in the club, there has been a huge increase in the amount Everton are willing to pay in the transfer window.

With over £248 million spent on transfers in the past two years, mid-table mediocrity will not be good to placate the board.

Therefore a spot in the Europa League and perhaps a cup run will be the bare minimum for success.

What will also be interesting to see is how Silva deals with the transitioning of stalwarts Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines out of the first team, with both players now in their mid thirties.

While both players started the first game of the season, the acquisition of Lucas Digne and Yerry Mina are viewed as long term prospects, who will eventually takeover from the veteran pair.

Silva’s style of play and training methods seems to be popular with his players, with Seamus Coleman praising his new manager’s passion in training.

As Everton have bought a host of big name players into Goodison Park over the past 18 months, it will be up to Marco Silva to finally get the best out of them, and you know what he might just do it.

The Author

Evan Coughlan

I bloody love football

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