By Ger McNally
The initial reaction to the news of Marco Silva’s sacking from Watford last weekend from a lot of Everton supporters around social media was that we dodged a bullet in our failed attempts to make him Ronald Koeman’s successor last year.
But is that really the case?
On the face of it, 11 defeats in 16 games is woeful form by anybody’s standards and in this day’s Premier League is certainly worthy of a sacking.
But all is not as it seems. There is of course a correlation between Everton’s initial interest last October and the beginning of Watford’s dreadful run of form.
Their enterprising start to the season, with clever signings like Richarlison leading leading the way, cemented the reputation of the 40 year old Portuguese manager, which had remained intact despite being in charge of Hull as they were relegated from the Premier League last season.
Watford sat in fourth after eight games, with four wins and three draws, before Everton’s interest clearly turned Silva’s head.
The promise of huge hike in wages plus the chance to build a team with Moshiri’s millions was too much for Silva to turn down and by accounts he did all within his power to force through a move to Goodision Park.
That was firmly blocked by the Watford hierarchy who made no attempt to hide their feelings on just who had caused their drop in form when confirming Silva’s departure.
“The Club is convinced the appointment of Silva was the right one and had it not been for the unwarranted approach by a Premier League rival for his services we would have continued to prosper under his leadership.
The catalyst for this decision is that unwarranted approach, something which the Board believes has seen a significant deterioration in both focus and results to the point where the long-term future of Watford FC has been jeopardised,” read their statement.
Of course, the failure to convince the Watford board to release Silva meant that Everton had to look elsewhere to fill Koeman’s shoes.
The appointment of Sam Allardyce on an 18 month hardly filled Evertonians with glee, and even Everton themselves seemed unsure. Such was the board’s indecisiveness over bringing the former England manager into the fold that initially he walked away from negotiations.
“It never materialised as I thought it would unfortunately. “For me, [after] such a long time without a decision I had to make the decision myself. It would have been a fabulous job but it just didn’t feel right. If it was going to be me it was getting in as soon as I can to have the international break to get settled in and unfortunately that didn’t happen for me,” said Allardyce at the time.
At that time in mid-November it looked that Everton might be content to leave David Unsworth in charge on a temporary basis until they could get the man they really wanted at the end of the season but the 4-1 defeat against Southampton on 26 November saw the panic button pressed.
Less than two weeks after Allardyce ruled himself out of contention, Everton went back with their begging bowl, and in a much weak negotiating position, did what would have been unthinkable at the start of the season and appointed Big Sam as manager of Everton.
But only on an 18 month contract, hardly a ringing endorsement.
Even at the time, the decision to install relegation firefighter Allardyce ahead of two very winnable home games seemed a rash move. Would Unsworth have stayed in the job until the end of the season if he had been let stay on and beaten West Ham and Huddersfield in the next two games?
This is a marriage of short term convenience and Allardyce knows it. Initially, he talked like a man that would extend his stay beyond his deal but more recently he has spoken like a man who knows he won’t be here for much longer. Certainly, the players are playing like they know he won’t the man making the decisions on who stays and who goes during the summer transfer window.
The question now for the Everton board is do they cut their losses now and replace Allardyce with the man they were willing to stump up £15m for just two months ago?
The bigger question is why have they not already done so? The air of uncertainty hanging over club while Allardryce is in charge is doing nobody any favours and that will merely continue while he is in charge. If Allardyce is allowed to continue into the final year of his contract that will get even worse next season. Realistically if Moshiri and Kenwright feel Allardyce is the man to lead Everton into 2018/19 they should extend his contract by at least another 12 months.
Does anybody really want that? Since the initial bump following his appointment, there have been precious few signs that Allardyce has the, admittedly appallingly imbalanced, squad performing any better than Koeman did at the start of the season.
If Allardyce isn’t the long term answer, the board must decide whether they think Silva is but surely their determination to land him just two months ago suggests they do. There are questions of whether Everton should be appointing a man who was so desperate to leave a club so soon after joining them – but that was all Everton’s doing. We can’t approach a man in a job and then think bad of him if he becomes unsettled.
Is Silva the right man for Everton? I don’t know, but I do know that Allardyce certainly is not and while appointing a fourth manager before the end of January looks to be bad planning, it makes a lot more sense to get the man in that the board so clearly wanted than continuing in limbo with somebody who was at best their second choice. Everton should act now and axe Allardyce and his management team and let Silva take charge for the final months of the season to give us all the best chance of avoiding another disastrous summer.