When Marco Silva was appointed Everton boss at the start of the season, there was a general feeling around the club that they’d got their man.
The Blues had long coveted Silva from his days at Watford, and rumours of ‘tapping-up’ haven’t disappeared since they surfaced when he was unceremoniously sacked by the Hornets.
Many, both inside and outside of the club, believe that Silva has what it takes to bring top 6 success back to Goodison Park after the average showing of an 8th place finish last season. Many punters expect Everton to be challenging the top 6 this season, with a number of Premier League betting tips being in favour of Arsenal to be the club that makes way for the Toffee’s after their cagey start under new man, Unai Emery.
So, after 5 games of the new season, Everton have started more slowly than the aforementioned comments suggest that many felt they would. But, just one win in five games doesn’t tell the whole story – so what has Marco Silva changed in the last couple of months?
One of the biggest headaches that Allardyce found last year, was Gylfi Sigurdsson. Signed for the best part of £50m, and moving to the club with a massive reputation – the Icelandic international failed to reach the dizzy heights that he’d achieved in his career at Swansea. An attacking midfielder with flair, composure, and an awful lot of natural talent – it just didn’t quite click in the 2017/18 campaign.
Often shifted out to the left-hand side of a three-pronged attacking midfield that sat behind a single striker, one of Silva’s first decisions was to move him back into his more customary central position. A change to number 10 in not just his shirt number, but his position on the pitch too – Sigurdsson’s performances have improved drastically. His confidence has soared, and this is backed up by his dribble attempts increasing to 3.6 per game, compared to 2.9 per game last year. He’s been at the heart of most things successful for the Blues this year, and the attacking flair that was missing in large swathes under Allardyce appears to have returned to Goodison Park – with the Icelandic number 10 a key feature in that transformation.
This leads nicely into the style of football as a whole. Silva is traditionally known as an attack-minded coach. During his spell in Greece, as well as his spells at both Hull and Watford, the Portuguese tactician has told his teams to not be afraid of going out to play. He likes his players to express themselves, and push on in attacking positions – a ploy that very nearly led to the great escape when he was the manager at seemingly already doomed Hull City.
But it’s the all-round performances which are more pleasing than the results so far have suggested. Take the home defeat to West Ham out of the equation, the Blues have looked fairly solid at the back too. This team are conceding less shots per game on average than last season, and also making substantially more tackles too. With that as a framework, surely it’s only a matter of time before it translates to points on the board.
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