Australian Four Four Two - - PREMIER LEAGUE -

The Pre­mier League’s sec­ond-most con­tro­ver­sial Por­tuguese boss has qual­i­ties that are im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent: he’s whip-smart, highly driven and sets up sides to op­er­ate with max­i­mum at­tack­ing flair.

Marco Silva’s record of im­prov­ing teams is al­most im­pec­ca­ble. At his first job, with Por­tu­gal’s sec­ond-tier Es­to­ril, he took bot­tom-half strug­glers straight into the top flight and then into Europe two years run­ning, like an Iberian Brian Clough. With a buc­ca­neer­ing Sport­ing, he lost just two league games and pock­eted their first sil­ver­ware in seven years. Flit­ting over to Olympia­cos, he set a Euro­pean record by win­ning their open­ing 17 league matches, drop­ping five points all sea­son and claim­ing the Greek ti­tle with a fifth of the cam­paign to spare. In 2017, Silva re-an­i­mated Hull’s corpse de­spite his two best play­ers be­ing sold, be­fore they suc­cumbed to rel­e­ga­tion; then at Wat­ford he did some magic un­til his head was turned by Ever­ton, and things de­scended into may­hem and squab­bling.

Alarm bells should ring, how­ever, when a boss has six jobs in seven years. And those years have had their dif­fi­cult spells: while good at home, Hull col­lected two points from a pos­si­ble 30 on the road, and his Wat­ford reign ended with five points from 33. Dig into Silva’s be­hind-the-scenes be­hav­iour and the pic­ture isn’t al­ways com­pli­men­tary.

At Sport­ing he was sacked sup­pos­edly for not wear­ing a club suit, but of­fi­cials were ap­par­ently ag­i­tated with his use of press con­fer­ences to con­stantly pub­li­cise the club’s is­sues – some­thing he also did at Wat­ford when unim­pressed with sum­mer sign­ings. The fall­out from Ever­ton’s woo­ing last au­tumn did no­body any favours, ei­ther. In short, the 41-year-old could re­ally ben­e­fit from a set­tled spell in or­der to shake off a rep­u­ta­tion as some­one whose eye is al­ways on the next gig, or who is too hot-headed to rub along with the suits. Lit­er­ally.

Ever­ton could also use some sta­ble progress. Since David Moyes’ de­par­ture in 2013 they’ve em­ployed four dif­fer­ent man­agers with rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent play­ing styles, and – de­spite the in­jec­tion of the new owner’s money – have strug­gled to for­mu­late a path to­wards com­pet­ing with the league’s other cashed-up clubs. If Silva is backed fi­nan­cially and the Ever­ton board doesn’t in­ter­fere too much, some­thing spe­cial could hap­pen at Good­i­son Park over the next few years, in terms of both re­sults and highly watch­able foot­ball. But, as ever, that is one hefty ‘if’.

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