Marco Silva says Everton’s game with West Ham is ‘must win’… but what happens if they don’t? Vicious cycle of big spending and disappointment shows no signs of stopping as another boss stands on the brink at Goodison
- Marco Silva finds himself under pressure with Everton inside the relegation zone
- Owner Farhad Moshiri has already sacked three managers since arriving in 2016
- Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce have all tried and failed
- Club have spent £250m on new players since Koeman was axed in October, 2017
- Theme of underachievement has continued under Silva, who is Moshiri’s man
- Club want to give him time but another defeat may leave them with no option
There is a possibility that on Saturday evening, after spending £250million on new players, Everton could be right back where they were two years ago.
It was October 23, 2017, when billionaire owner Farhad Moshiri brought the axe down on Ronald Koeman, ending his time in charge just 16 months into a lucrative three-year contract.
Back then, the Toffees sat 18th in the Premier League table having won just two of their nine games. Now they are 18th with two wins from eight under Marco Silva.
Everton’s players appear dejected during their defeat at Burnley before the international break
Marco Silva finds himself under huge pressure with Everton currently in the bottom three
Season at a glance
The Portuguese admits that this weekend’s lunchtime kick-off against West Ham is ‘must win’. So does that mean he deserves the sack if Everton lose or draw?
Another defeat by the Hammers would make it five Premier League losses in a row for Silva, who survived a disastrous spell of form during his first season in charge.
But now, with his own squad built with Moshiri’s millions and the contacts of director of football Marcel Brands over the last two summers, the former Watford manager is under more pressure to deliver than ever before.
This was supposed to be the season that Everton challenged for a place in Europe, perhaps even taking advantage of issues at Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea to sneak into the top four.
Instead they are in the bottom three again, wondering how another big summer of investment has seemingly resulted in a team less capable than the one which finished last term on a high with wins over each of the sides mentioned above.
To say this is not quite what Moshiri envisioned when he became the club’s majority shareholder a little over three-and-a-half years ago would be an understatement.
Billionaire Farhad Moshiri has so far failed to see a return on his huge investment at Everton
Fabian Delph (left) and Yerry Mina (right) have been part of Everton’s underperforming side
The Iran-born businessman arrived at Goodison Park with dreams of taking Everton back to the big time, cracking the Champions League and moving to a state-of-the-art stadium next to the River Mersey.
But while plans for the club’s new home remain on track, things on the pitch are threatening to derail for the fourth time already during Moshiri’s reign.
First there was Roberto Martinez. The likable Spaniard quickly developed a bond with supporters and enjoyed a fine debut season, almost leading the Blues into the Champions League at the first time of asking.
But two dismal Premier League seasons – particularly on home soil – left fans calling for his head, with some staying behind to protest after a game at Goodison and others organising a ‘Time to go, Roberto’ banner to be flown over the stadium.
Moshiri reacted to the poor performances and fan unrest, sacking Martinez just two-and-a-half months after investing in the club and with one game of the season left. The decision ultimately left him with a £10m compensation bill.
Koeman was next through the door after choosing to ditch Southampton, having been handed a £6m-a-year deal – and the promise of a transfer war chest unlike any of his predecessors.
Ronald Koeman (L) and Sam Allardyce (R) have both been sacked by Everton owner Moshiti
Aided by newly appointed director of football Steve Walsh, the Dutchman splashed out on nearly £80m of talent, bringing in the likes of Idrissa Gueye and Yannick Bolasie.
With 25-goal Romelu Lukaku’s leading the line, Everton improved significantly in Koeman’s first season and finished seventh with a seriously impressive home record.
But then it all went wrong. Walsh and Koeman’s transfer strategy in the summer of 2017 was muddled, leaving both gaps in the squad and other positions overfull.
Lukaku was not replaced after his move to Manchester United, while the signings of Wayne Rooney, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaassen left Koeman with three new players of similar ilk.
Only three of the nine players signed for a total of around £150m – Jordan Pickford, Michael Keane and Gylfi Sigurdsson – can be seen as anything close to a success so far. Four of the others have already left, while Cuco Martina is a forgotten man at Finch Farm and Sandro Ramirez is enduring another disappointing loan spell.
Jordan Pickford, pictured in action against Burnley, has been one of few successful signings
Koeman paid for the poor recruitment with his job following that miserable start to the 2017-18 campaign. An embarrassing 5-2 defeat at home to Arsenal was enough to convince Moshiri that it was time for another change.
But although it may have seemed like the right decision at the time, the Koeman episode appears to have been the start of vicious cycle of big spending and disappointment on the blue half of Merseyside.
After failing to lure Silva from Watford and with a lack of other attainable candidates, Moshiri turned to Sam Allardyce to rescue a squad who were increasingly looking fit for the Championship, not the Champions League.
The former England boss was handed £45m to spend on Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun – neither of whom are regular starters now – in the January window and he steadied the ship, winning enough games to climb up the table and away from the drop zone.
His style of football, however, was so negative and infuriating to watch that the fans – and Moshiri himself – soon lost patience. Allardyce was sacked six months into his 18-month deal and the much-maligned Walsh soon followed him out the door.
Despite a legal-wrangling with his former club Watford, Silva eventually arrived at Goodison in the summer of 2018 as the man Moshiri really wanted.
He has since backed the ex-Sporting Lisbon boss to the tune of around £200m in the transfer market, with the likes of Richarlison, Lucas Digne and Alex Iwobi making the move to the north west.
Marcel Brands’ (left) business looked good on paper but Silva (right) is struggling for results
Silva’s first season was a mixed one to say the least. A promising start was brutally ended by a last-gasp defeat against Liverpool at Anfield when Pickford’s error not only allowed Divock Origi to score, but seemingly destroyed the confidence of an entire squad for over two months.
Everton eventually recovered fully in March, winning five of their last eight games and losing just once to suggest that bigger things would be in store this season.
Sadly for them, that hasn’t been the case. Defensive frailties – particularly from set-pieces – have reared their ugly head again, while they have scored only six goals – the third-worst record in the entire division.
Silva’s failure to switch-up his tactics or use a formation which doesn’t rely on a single striker has become a bugbear among many fans, who believe he simply isn’t getting enough out of the players at his disposal.
Some of the blame must fall at the door of Brands, the man behind the club’s transfers since Silva’s arrival, but ultimately the responsibility land on the man giving the team talks, taking training and setting up the side to win games.
Moshiri is in no rush to sack Silva and wants to give him time to turn around this latest poor run of form, particularly after witnessing the superb end to last season.
But while there is no desire to continue the hire-and-fire policy of the last three years, those at the top of the club are aware that Silva’s winless run cannot continue.
Another defeat against West Ham may not be enough for Moshiri to pull the trigger, but the manner of it – and the reaction of the Goodison faithful – could yet prove key.
Either way, Everton must find a way to stop taking one step forwards and two steps back. The air of malaise cannot go on.
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