By Dave Downie
It’s a been a turbulent week at Everton, there can be no denying that. A horrific injury to André Gomes, Marco Silva’s condemnation of Richarlison’s theatrics and the chronic misuse of VAR have all overshadowed the preparation for an incredibly important game against Southampton a fixture the Blues dare not lose and is available on Coral ahead of the trip to St Mary’s.
The manager’s handling of each of the aforementioned issues has been questionable to say the very least, and it’s not the first time Everton have appeared to show a soft underbelly where other managers and clubs would make a stand.
The Portuguese’s response has done him few favours in the eyes of large swathes of the fan base. Already walking a tightrope, Silva can ill-afford to stand against a backdrop of discontent due to a lukewarm approach to issues that many Evertonian’s feel passionate about – his task is overwhelming enough based on performances and results alone.
On the issue of the Richarlison’s perceived diving, he told Everton TV: “We are working with him because the Premier League is really tough and the message and the feedback to him is to always don’t fall down.
“Even if it looks in many, many moments that it is not fair on him with the decisions, what I am saying to him and our staff as well is for him to keep standing as much as he can and in the right moments the referee will be fair with him, because we feel that it is a little bit not so fair.
“Keep standing and be strong because the contact in the Premier League is really strong as well. And, for sure, look after the football and the decisions will be fair with you.”
This week was a missed opportunity for the under-fire Blues boss to harness some much needed backing from supporters. Many managers when put in his position, regardless of their own view or validity of the argument, would’ve rebuffed any claims the Brazilian goes down too easily with a stout defence of the player.
More pertinently, Silva can also be considered fortunate to see another tepid performance under his tenure, for the most part, pale into insignificance due to the plethora of incidences that took place at Goodison last Sunday acting as a smokescreen.
With attention finally turning to another trip to the south coast, the fact of the matter is Everton could see themselves outside of the relegation zone only on goal difference after this weekend’s games, with a third of the season already gone.
Defeat to Southampton would be their seventh in 12 Premier League games with that unenviable run of fixtures in December looming on the horizon.
The optimists would keenly point to the concertinaed nature of the league table this season and rightly say Everton are within five points of a position they had targeted before a ball was kicked in the current campaign.
However, with the team’s best midfielder likely sidelined for the season, coupled with an incongruous approach to team selection which at times appears desperate, it’s difficult to see where Marco Silva finds a route to ensure more consistent results.
Again, his advocates would tell you Everton’s results picked up when his back was against the wall last season, with some sumptuous performances, clean sheets and results against the Premier League’s elite. But whilst sympathy is with Silva in regards to injuries to his squad and shortages in depth, his plight looks too far gone this time to see him surviving that daunting run of fixtures in December, should he even make it that far.
In a week where even the slightest hint of gumption would’ve gone some distance in appeasing his detractors even for a short time. And whilst his honesty and humility is admirable, the Everton manager was again found wanting with his future at Goodison seemingly hanging by a thread.
But that opportunity has been and gone, what’s next is where the focus of all concerned should have been from last Sunday evening; a win at all costs at St Mary’s this weekend.
Hopefully for Marco Silva’s sake, his team’s performance against against Southampton proves to be more popular to the Everton faithful than his efforts in front of a microphone this week.