Wednesday 19 June 2019

Jamie Carragher: 'Astute Silva doesn't deserve wrath of Everton owner, it's the players who need to raise their game'

Everton manager Marco Silva. Photo: PA
Everton manager Marco Silva. Photo: PA

Jamie Carragher

There was a moment last week when, for the first time since he was appointed, Marco Silva sounded like an Everton manager.

It came in response to predecessor Sam Allardyce's jibe about Silva's style of football, the ex-Goodison boss claiming criticism of his reign last season was more about perception than reality.

Silva stood his ground, stating he would only acknowledge criticism from fans or ex-managers who truly loved the club rather than those with their own agenda.

"If it is David Moyes, maybe I would listen because he did something really important at this club," said Silva.

Whether a planned response or not, Silva demonstrated the difference between he and Allardyce. He said what every Evertonian was thinking. This is the kind of empathy and feistiness the fans want.

It might sound trivial. It is better to have a coach who gets results than one who wins over the crowd with public comments, but never underestimate the importance of a manager 'getting' what his club represents. In the city of Liverpool it is especially crucial.

I would say it is as important at Everton as anywhere else to play to the gallery occasionally, giving the supporters hope there are better times ahead during another transitional period.

Silva is usually reserved in the media, rarely making headline-grabbing remarks. It would serve him well at Everton to open up more. When an opportunity comes to defend yourself and the club, embrace it.

No manager will survive if results and performances are poor, but they can buy themselves time by connecting with the fan-base.

The most successful Everton managers excelled at this as much as building a team to be proud of.

There has been plenty of unfair revisionism of Moyes' Everton reign since he left, but he won himself instant goodwill when declaring Everton 'The People's Club' upon his appointment.

The club still use that in all their promotional material. Moyes enjoyed good times and dips and throughout the supporters always felt he was 'one of them' because of his remarks on day one.

Silva needs to find his voice in the job to reassure increasingly anxious supporters he will live up to expectations.

Everton's board certainly understand the need to serve regular helpings of hope. At this week's general meeting, chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale announced the lofty ambition to compete for the Premier League and Champions League over the next decade.

These are outlandish aims. In this day and age, unless you have mind-blowing investment to upset the status quo in the same way as Chelsea or Manchester City, this is not going to happen.

Everton are fighting with clubs from 7th down. However, such objectives must be put into an historic context. Before the Premier League, Everton were one of the giants of the English game - only Liverpool had won more league championships when the original 'big five' led the league breakaway in 1992.

Everton have suffered more than the other four, left behind financially and still playing catch-up.

Not even the injection of cash from majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri can speed up that process. The club needs a new arena on Liverpool's docks to be the game-changer. That will not happen for another three years, at least.

Silva may have sat and listened to the Champions League plans with trepidation more than excitement - especially as in the same meeting it was made clear there is little prospect of his squad being enhanced in this transfer window.

What would be more worrying is if the club's bold long-term aspirations compromise the existing reality where Silva cannot be expected to break into the top six unless one of those above suffers an unexpected dip.

Nevertheless, it is essential the club offers a promising vision of the future and the appointment of an ambitious, young manager who wants a more dynamic brand of football is part of that.

There have been times when the club did not seem so far away from the leaders.

Five years ago, under Roberto Martinez, Everton finished fifth, three points above Tottenham Hotspur. For most of Moyes's reign those two clubs were natural rivals, the most likely to break into the top four. Everton, of course, achieved it once in 2005.

Spurs have steamrolled past Everton since Mauricio Pochettino arrived and their new ground will make that gap tougher to bridge. They are realising their plans while Everton are still finalising theirs.

The challenge for Silva is to replicate Pochettino's work, although he has not had the fortune to inherit a striker of Harry Kane's quality at Goodison.

The loss of Romelu Lukaku continues to have a debilitating effect on Everton's ability to turn draws into wins and narrow losses into draws.

When you look at the Premier League table, not much has changed at Goodison over 12 months. At the same stage last season Everton had 27 points and were ninth. Now they are 11th with the same number of points, although the goal difference is slightly better.

They have taken different routes to the same location, that is why - despite recent form - Evertonians are happier now than they were this time last season.

Everton recovered from an abysmal start a year ago. They have suffered a poor run after an encouraging start this time.

Under their last manager they turned up at the toughest venues and played unambitious, dull football. They secured enough results against the rest to finish mid-table.

Silva has set up his team to play like a top-six side, more adventurous when travelling to Champions League clubs without much reward.

The trouble is he does not have enough high-class players needed to consistently compete at that level.

His first signings last summer were promising. There is class in Richarlison, Lucas Digne and Andre Gomes, particularly, which suggests the judgment of Silva and director of football Marcel Brands is sound.

The biggest problem so far is a meagre three points in home games against Watford, Newcastle, West Ham, Huddersfield and Leicester City. That accounts for the club's poor position after 21 games and must improve in the second half of the season, starting at home to Bournemouth tomorrow. on

What has not changed is Everton's appalling away form. Since April 2016, Everton have won nine of their 54 Premier League away games, losing 28.

Only Watford have lost more over that period - a shocking statistic for a club of such stature.

That suggests a lack of mental toughness in players. The slump after their last-minute defeat in the Merseyside derby - winning only one of eight games since - underlines this problem.

Moshiri made his feelings about the club's current position clear in midweek.

"I look at the table and it is just not good enough," he said.

He is right, but he should be pointing the finger at those players who have underperformed under five managers since 2016, not the new manager.

There has been too much change at Everton since Moyes left, and by Moshiri's own admission too many bad decisions.

Silva must be given time to get it right, otherwise Moshiri will be in danger of making a good managerial appointment look like another mistake.

Telegraph.co.uk

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