Everton's post-Marco Silva problem: The next step isn't obvious
What Everton do next is really, really important.
Unfortunately for Marco Silva, who was dismissed late on Thursday evening, the team's position and performances this season had become indefensible and, given the outlay on new players over the summer, he can have few complaints about being asked to leave his keys on the desk and to turn the lights off on his way out.
But the succession plan matters. Particularly as, at the time of writing, David Moyes is considered among the favourites to replace Silva.
That would be a crushing disappointment. Not because Moyes didn’t accomplish significant feats between 2002 and 2013, but because it would be such an obvious step back. Worse, it would signify – fairly or not – that the club, again, is willing to sacrifice another season and more money for the promise of bland stability.
If that, actually, because Moyes’ record over the past half-a-decade doesn’t provide the assurances that it once did. The squad that has been constructed in his absence hardly suits his style of player, either.
Which isn't even to mention the philosophical complication of him having to work with Marcel Brands. During his previous reign, Moyes was heavily involved in recruitment. There’s actually a chapter in Michael Calvin’s Living On The Volcano which describes that really well, detailing how he would plot transfer targets years in advance to overcome the club's financial restraints of the time. Given that that is now part of Brands' remit - and one of the strongest areas of his own CV - it's difficult to see anything other than an almighty clash.
So the only way Moyes’ return could work is if the club’s entire footballing structure was ripped out to accommodate him. That’s the kind of overhaul made to appease a continental ideologue, not someone who – regardless of what Everton’s limitations were at the time – won just 42 per cent of his games across 11 years.
Yes, Moyes was decent. He provided stability. But Everton are aiming to be in residence at Bramley Moore Dock in time for the 2023/24 season, they’re owned by one of the richest men in the world and their annual transfer spent is now routinely around the £100 million mark. Decent isn't really what they should be aiming for.
It is a time for vision and for Everton to keep their nerve. Silva hasn’t worked, but that doesn’t mean that the premise for appointing him was incorrect or that everything now has to change as a consequence. There is still great value in employing someone of Brands’ abilities and clear logic in twinning him with a head coach who can multiply his effect. Reverting to Moyes now – or even a Moyes-like figure (Allardyce, Hughes, Pardew etc) – would essentially indicate the abandonment of that concept. Or, to be slightly more dramatic, the abandonment of originality.
It would also be very difficult for the supporters to buy into. Fanbases are enlivened by ideas and concepts and the suggestion of a journey about to take place. They want to see attractive and innovative football and the development of individual players within incubating systems.
What they do not want, unequivocally, is to be told stories to which they already know the endings. The most important commodity at any club – at any time, within any circumstance – is aspiration. That becomes particularly true whenever a new stadium is being built and when that team is attempting to transition between identities. That process depends on momentum: generated by the players and the team, but also the supporters. It requires a common cause to exist.
So Everton’s next appointment, whenever Silva leaves, needs to be instructed by that imperative. Whomever they land on, it has to signify the beginning of something different, not the return to a predictable existence for which enthusiasm ran dry a long time ago.
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