Sporting Lisbon midfielder Ryan Gauld has spoken of the "intense" and "positive" pre-season methods of Marco Silva - revealing the variety and challenging nature of the new Everton manager's sessions ensured he “enjoyed training every day” while working with the Portuguese.
Gauld signed for Sporting from Dundee United in July 2014, the same summer Silva arrived at the Lisbon giants as boss, and describes the 40-year-old as a “positive person on the training ground who sets his team up to win games”.
Just 18 when he moved to Portugal, Gauld played the majority of his football for Sporting's ‘B’ team but was handed five first-team appearances by Silva.
He featured in two Primeira Liga games and played three further matches in the Portuguese League Cup, where he scored two goals and provided one assist. The Scotland Under-21 international was also named in Silva’s 25-man Champions League for the 2014/15 campaign and received a call-up to the Scotland senior squad in September 2014.
Gauld remains indebted to Silva for helping him acclimatise to life at Sporting and - having had first-hand experience of working with the Toffees’ new boss on the training pitch - is convinced Everton’s players will thrive under his tutelage.
“It took some time to adapt to Portuguese football and fit into the style,” Gauld told evertonfc.com. “And Marco Silva helped me through all of that. He was great with me from the first day I arrived.
“I enjoyed it. It was a very intense pre-season but not the kind of pre-season running which players hate. Everything was with the ball and with good intentions of getting the best out of players. It was tactical and good in terms of individual fitness.
“There was far more tactical work [than in Scotland] and you enjoyed training every day, which is so important. Everyone was happy and that makes a big difference in your performances.
“He is a very positive person on the training ground. He encourages you all the time.
“And, most importantly, everyone can pick up that he knows exactly what he is talking about. Everyone respects that and likes working for a manager with his type of personality.”
Silva’s season in charge at Sporting saw him lead the side to Portuguese Cup glory.
The cup triumph was achieved in dramatic fashion. Sporting were 2-0 down to Braga in the final with just six minutes remaining but hit two late goals to send the game into extra-time. Silva’s side then completed the job on penalties to end the club’s seven-year trophy drought.
Gauld explains the manager’s philosophy ensured such stirring comebacks were always possible – with a focus on playing on the front foot and hurting the opposition.
“He knows exactly what he wants from each player and what is required in each position,” Gauld added.
“He likes to play intense football. That is one of the things that ensures his teams play really good football, the demand he has for intensity.
“First and foremost, he sets up his teams really well and with the intention of winning games.
“He likes to concentrate on that attacking side. You could see that when he went to Hull. They stopped conceding so many goals but were also scoring a lot.
“He is very effective at both ends and knows exactly what he wants from his side.”
After his season in charge at Sporting, Silva moved to Olympiakos where he led the club to a record-breaking Greek title win – his side finished 30 points ahead of second-placed Panathinaikos.
The Premier League was next for the Portuguese, whose expansive, high-octane football has impressed during spells at Hull City and Watford.
Gauld, meanwhile, remains on the books at Sporting, and has enjoyed loan stints at fellow Primeira Liga sides Vitoria Setubal and Aves.
The Scot worked with Silva for just one season but Everton’s new boss clearly made a lasting impression on the youngster.
Silva has already explained how he has the “courage” to give young players their chance in the first-team – vowing that “quality, not age” will dictate his team selections.
Gauld says this willingness to provide emerging talents with opportunities to shine at senior level was a further standout feature of Silva’s time at Sporting Lisbon.
“Whoever he thinks is deserving of a game is who he will select,” the 22-year-old revealed. “Neither your age nor your experience matter. He just wants the players who will give him exactly what he is after. Quite often he sees that in young players, he sees that intensity and willingness to fight for everything and go for every ball.
“He had a very good relationship with the young players at Sporting. Everyone he worked with really liked and respected him.”