Silva Ready For Next Step

by Paul McNamara

Marco Silva is all about the future. But he knows his history, too.

Silva is a studious man. His former players talk with some awe about a coach with a sharp mind and meticulous eye for detail.

The Portuguese asks for absolute commitment and loyalty from everybody in his working circle. In answer to a question concerning his driven personality during his first evertontv interview, Silva used the word demanding – or a variant – five times.

Silva, however, expresses his wish for dedication from others in the most powerful form: he leads by example, only asking others for levels of commitment he is prepared to invest himself.

And Silva is an intense, hard-working coach, brimming with “ambition”, every bit the “modern manager” described by Everton’s new director of football Marcel Brands.

To understand the present, though – and to begin to plot the future – Silva brushed up on the past.

“I know the responsibility of being Everton manager,” Silva told evertontv.

“I know what is behind me, I know the big-club history and I know what the fans expect. I am doing my homework, like Marcel.

“Now is the moment to meet, to analyse everything and change what we need to change… after, we need to make the right decisions.

“It is a fantastic challenge. I know how big the club is and its history. In my career as a coach it is not the moment to look to the past, it is the moment to look forward. And I am looking forward to starting.

Silva’s big thinking is not restricted to the size of his Club or the scale of the task he is undertaking. He understands Evertonians want to see their team play football with “big commitment, big attitude and big ambition”.

To continue a theme, Silva embraces those demands.

“He’s a young coach but also an experienced coach,” observed Brands.

A young manager, in most instances, gets one shot at this job. Silva would have known, then, that an iffy spell in charge of Estoril would likely have stalled his coaching career in the traps.

He was 34 when he took over the small Portuguese club shortly after calling time on his playing career with the same team. The job represented the polar opposite of a tap-in.

Estoril had been out of the top-flight six seasons and were sat slap-bang in the middle of the second tier when Silva was appointed early in 2011/12.

His work from there was formidable. Silva instigated a transformation in Estoril’s fortunes so marked they returned to the Primeira Liga as champions.

“I kind of saw his coaching career start," recalled Tony Taylor, the Panamanian striker who was a totem of Silva’s courageous Estoril team.

"It was my third year there and he had been my captain but I had gone on loan to another club and Estoril were not doing too well… when Marco took over he recalled me and just switched the whole thing around.

“You could see immediately what a good coach he was."

Silva surpassed all reasonable expectations in his second season, guiding a team broadly expected to sink without a trace to fifth in the table – and European qualification for the first time in Estoril’s history.

When he led Estoril to fourth in the following campaign – despite being forced to rebuild his team in pre-season after seeing his main assets stripped away by Portugal’s three foremost clubs: Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon – he was identified by Sporting as the man to add silverware to a trophy cabinet bereft of any new additions for the previous seven years.

Silva was not weighed down by the significant responsibility resting square on his shoulders. He used it as a force for good, a motivational tool to drive himself and his players.

Sporting won the Portuguese Cup – and lost only twice in a 34-match league campaign. His season in charge of the capital giants unquestionably further shaped Silva’s ideas and beliefs – which underpin what he expects from his Everton team.

“It is important to talk about desire… ambition, commitment and attitude,” says Silva.  “All these things that you can expect are important in our team.”

Phil Jagielka was mining for information on his new boss as soon as the white smoke billowed out of Goodison Park.

Everton’s captain was the recipient of some “glowing reports”. Friends who worked under Silva at Hull and Watford talked of hard work, enjoyment, attacking, expression, ambition, discipline, detail and a constant push for improvement.

Those qualities reflected in the consistency of Silva’s words as he formulated his footballing model.

“I have one way,” Silva once said, when asked to elaborate on his training ground methods. “Bring your real game to every training session. In every dimension: technical, tactical, physical, psychological. This is what I want - and at the same level as in a match.”

Silva’s teams operate within a progressive framework. He is committed to purposeful, enterprising football. The manager expects solidity, too. He wasn’t content, for example, to allow his swashbuckling Olympiakos team of 2015/16 to bomb forward with abandon as they swept all before them in Greece.

There was still room for belt and braces in the way Silva demanded defensive responsibility. He was as satisfied with a ‘goals against’ column which read 16 in 30 matches, as he was with the colossal 81 booming out of the ‘goals for’ line.

“We must produce attractive football,” Silva said on arriving in Greece. “I have a winning mentality and am lucky to be at a club that matches it… my aim is to create an attacking, pacy team that will work hard.”

Silva’s refusal to compromise on his ideals is a hallmark shared with some of the finest modern managers – that term Brands carefully chose to describe his new colleague.

In the book Pep Confidential, charting Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge of Bayern Munich in 2013/14, the Spaniard explains why he remains so welded to the tenets of his philosophy.

Should Guardiola prepare for a decisive match or dangerous opponent by deviating from his customary tactics, he reasons, he would, at once, shred the faith employed in him by his players. The dressing room sentiment, says Guardiola, would be, ‘This guy doesn’t believe what he’s been telling us, he doesn’t trust himself’.

Silva similarly trusts his own instincts.

“I have one idea,” he disclosed earlier in his career, “If you play better than your opponent, then you have a better chance to win. So my teams are dominant and I want them to be like that.”

Equally, he has never hidden away his demanding personality. Silva is up front about his belief that to settle is to give up.

“For me, it’s ambition,” he has said. “You want more, always. When you achieve one step, you need to get the second step… and I am not satisfied – ever. I want more, always.”

Everton’s new boss has operated under fierce scrutiny in the Premier League with Hull City and Watford since he spoke of dominating opponents and continually shifting targets.

And he has come through his first experiences of working under the pressure and spotlight of the world’s most high-profile division with all his beliefs firmly intact.

Silva’s style, bravery, carefully-devised tactics and devotion to continual improvement convinced Brands, major shareholder Farhad Moshiri and Chairman Bill Kenwright that this is the man to propel Everton into the Club’s ambitious future.

They want the Marco Silva whose football and character captivated players and supporters at all of his previous clubs. And that is what he is planning to give them.

“The confidence they (Moshiri, Kenwright and Brands) have in me is really important to me,” says Silva.

“I have come here to help the club get better in the future.

“My style is to play to win matches, of course. And, for me, it’s clear that if we play better than our opponent, if we have better football than our opponent, then we are closer to winning the match.

It is impossible to win every game but we can – and must – show we have the desire and intent to win every time we represent Everton.

“All Evertonians want to see the Club take the next step.

“Everybody is hungry to take the next step. I am sure, all together, we will work really hard to create the conditions for our team to take the next step.”

Yes, Silva’s past has done an awful lot to form the man he is today. Everton’s illustrious and storied history is a source of pride and should be cherished.

Now for Marco Silva and Everton to take the next step, together. 

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