Former Everton defender Abel Xavier says the Club have pulled off a masterstroke by appointing Marco Silva as manager.
Xavier witnessed first hand Silva construct his superlative body of work at Estoril, where he twice qualified for European competition after taking over a club drifting in Portugal’s second-tier.
Silva infused his Estoril team with style and substance – and Xavier is convinced his fellow Portuguese’s expansive brand of football will go down a storm at Goodison Park.
He is also confident the timing is ideal for Silva to stamp his mark on a big club, having successfully made the jump from Estoril to Sporting Lisbon – before winning a title in his first season abroad with Olympiakos and then moving to the Premier League.
Silva managed Hull City and Watford and is unbeaten in his first five games as Everton boss following his summer arrival.
“Evertonians will like Marco Silva’s thinking and I am certain he will raise the team’s level,” Xavier told evertonfc.com.
“Everton fans love their team to be competitive and aggressive. But they also love good football.
“Marco is a coach who improves players and, when you watch his teams, it is clear what he is asking from them. He has had a positive influence at all his previous clubs and quickly assembled a very good squad at Everton.
"When you see strong players coming from Barcelona and wanting to join Everton (Silva recruited defenders Lucas Digne and Yerry Mina and midfielder Andre Gomes from the Nou Camp) it says a lot about the people inside the Club.
“Everton has a lot of ambition and they can have a big season.”
Xavier joined Everton from PSV Eindhoven in September 1999 and made 49 appearances in more than two years at Goodison Park before transferring to Liverpool.
He subsequently played for a clutch of European clubs and moved back to Portugal following his retirement in 2008 after one year with Los Angeles Galaxy.
“All my family is from Estoril, the club’s stadium is about one mile from the house where my kids live and we have a real attachment to the club,” said Xavier.
“Marco Silva had a great impact on Estoril. In a small environment, he created a strong mentality and attractive football.
“He had Estoril playing football like a big club. They believed in what they were doing and always went on the pitch certain they could beat any opponent. That is a great achievement.
“Marco’s style of play made a great statement about his views on football.”
Silva led Estoril into the Primeira Liga in his first season as boss and finished fifth and a club-high fourth in the following two campaigns.
He was prised away in 2014 by Sporting Lisbon – where Xavier spent 10 years as an academy player – and won the Portuguese Cup in his lone season with the capital team.
Xavier, who accepted his first managerial post with Algarve club Olhanense in 2013 and is now in charge of Mozambique’s national side, believes Silva has immaculately handled each step up in his career.
“It was a big move for Marco to go to Sporting Lisbon, a huge club in Portugal,” said Xavier. “But he was able to cope and progress.
“He imposed his own ideas on the team and improved Sporting Lisbon. And he won a trophy, which the club had not done for a long time (seven years).
“The next stage from there is abroad. When you have a coach with ambition and a desire to improve he needs to challenge himself.
“Marco left his comfort zone to test himself as a coach and that is great. He won [the title] in Greece with Olympiakos, a big achievement.
“But England is the pinnacle for coaches today. If you want to have a big impact on football, you go to the Premier League. There is no bigger league in Europe to challenge yourself as a coach or a player.
“There has been a lot of progress at Everton. I had good times there. They have great fans and it was a family environment.
“Everton is stable and has exciting plans for the future. I want to see Everton climbing to the top. It is difficult but achievable. The squad is getting stronger and I am very glad Marco Silva is the manager.”
Pick up a copy of Everton official matchday programme when the Blues take on West Ham United on Sunday to read an exclusive feature interview with Abel Xavier.
The reflective Portuguese explains why his time at Goodison Park represented one of the happiest periods of his career and discusses the "very difficult" decision he made when opting to switch to Liverpool.
Xavier talks passionately about his bid to unite Mozambique – the country of his birth – in his capacity as national football team manager. And he reveals why the sport has been integral to every aspect of his life.