Marco Silva, Just Another Roberto Martinez?

Marco Silva has had a tumultuous time since he arrived in England in January 2017 as Hull Manager, he has been lauded by pundits, relegated, lauded again and then sacked as Watford manager. After a good start to the season as Watford Manager, Everton came calling but not a lot of our fans were convinced by the Portuguese manager, with some calling him another Roberto Martinez.

The definition of a Roberto Martinez to Evertonians can best be described as “ A Manager that plays overcomplicated football going forward but is ridiculously naïve at the back and has no plan B whatsoever”.

Is Marco Silva another Roberto Martinez or is he a much better manager that’s been harshly judged by fans and the press alike in England.

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Tactics….

Silva like many Continental coaches prefers the 4-2-3-1 with high pressing and pace on the flanks to stretch opponents and create space. The idea is to control the midfield whilst also creating space for the attackers to do the most damage possible. Without the ball Silva’s teams tend to revert to a 4-1-4-1 with the wingers dropping back to cover the fullbacks and denying the opposition large spaces to drift into. Silva when at Olympiakos and Estoril was known for prioritising shape and organisation above his sides attacking play.

The base formation is very similar to the one in which Martinez applied at Everton with a back 4, 2 holding midfielders and 3 attacking midfielders supplying a lone striker. However there are fundamental differences, Martinez preferred the methodical possession based football to dominate games and win the possession battle whilst Silva’s teams attack with speed to expose space created by the movement of its forwards. Defensively again similarities but differences Silva’s teams do not play with a suicidal high line and his teams much more actively press than Martinez’s without over exposing themselves.

Another Martinez? Similarities with Fundamental differences

 

Coaching….

Silva is known as an obsessive hands on coach who before games does walkthroughs of how he wants his players to position themselves during different phases of play. He had both Hull and Watford working meticulously on different elements of the games such as throw ins or corners in an effort to be fully prepared for each game. His training sessions are supposed to be very intense with a lot of work with some fearing he overworks the players to get things exactly how he wants them. There are stories of him using hotel conference rooms as mini pitches to work on the team shape with his players whilst on away trips

This is in stark contrast to Roberto Martinez who came under fire for his lack of fitness work and attention to detail when it came to certain aspects of play. The Spaniard and his assistant Graeme Jones were known to not value practicing defending corners because it was only a small part of the game preferring to focus on ball work. The lack of fitness work done by Martinez at Everton also contributed to the number of muscular injuries at the club.

Another Martinez? No Much more attention to detail in all aspects of play and fitness

 

What the Players say….

Curtis Davies said that throughout the game he was always thinking “Where would Marco put me if we were doing a walkthrough in training, where would he position me”. This shows how Silva’s rigorous training methods can have a positive impact on his player play throughout the game forcing them to think more and make better decisions

Ryan Mason “He was a workaholic, the day before a game he would have the team set out and you would walkthrough certain situations. Even oppositions throw ins. It was a level of detail we were not used to. Those minor details can make such a massive difference at Premier League level” This is a surprise considering Mason has been coached by both Andre Villas Boas and Mauricio Pochettino in his time at Tottenham. The level of detail and work put in can only benefit the players in long and term.

This is in stark contrast to what Everton players have said about Roberto Martinez tenure as manager with some frustrated at his unflappable belief in possession and passing no matter who the opponent was, lacking a Plan B was part of his downfall. Training sessions were called boring and unimaginative and just a lot of ball work rather than working on shape or structure in the side. Martinez’s players even demanded the Spaniard go more direct to get the best of an increasingly isolated Romelu Lukaku.

Another Martinez? No the level of work and detail seems to impress Silva’s player whilst Martinez’s rigidness caused issues with his

 

Performance….

Marco Silva has only managed 42 games in the Premier League with 13 wins 8 draws and 21 losses to his name. He took over a god awful Hull team that most thought were dead and buried and gave them hope. He started the season of really well with Watford, up until the Everton links started towards the end of November, they had 21 points from 15 games scored 24 and conceded 25, with 14 of them goals coming in 3 games against Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd. For a side like Watford that’s a really good start to season and although they shipped too many goals against the top sides against the rest of the teams they were relatively good defensively.

Roberto Martinez won the FA cup with Wigan kept Wigan up for as long as he possibly could and had one very good season at Everton where the team finished 5th and were on cusp of qualifying for Champions league.

It’s tough to compare the two managers really on performance as Silva has managed little over a season’s worth of games in the premier league whilst Martinez has managed 265 games in his managerial career. Silva has collected 1.12 points per game whilst in premier league and conceded an average 1.8 goals per game whilst Martinez has collected 1.20 points per game and conceded an average of 1.58 goals per game.

Another Martinez? Yes however it is not a complete picture due to the differences in number of games

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In Conclusion…..

Marco Silva and Roberto Martinez share some similarities but are fundamentally very different managers with differing philosophies. The Spaniard is all about possession and passing whilst Portuguese manager is all about organisation and attention to detail and exposing the spaces. It’s hard to definitively say whether if he took the Everton managers job he would have the same problems the Spaniard did. They can be both flawed in their approach as can be seen from the number of goals conceded however who knows given time to build his own side and having more than just one preseason under his belt whether Marco Silva can live up to his lofty potential and push Everton towards where they want to be

Another Martinez? Potentially but he deserves a chance to prove his doubters wrong, he is a very capable manager who could with time prove to be a very good appointment.

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The Marcel Brands Files

There is a lot of speculation around the British press at the moment that PSV Eindhoven Technical Director Marcel Brands will be leaving to take the same role at flailing Everton. Here I look at Brands history with both PSV and previous club AZ Alkmaar, to see what he will bring to Everton and what to expect.

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What’s a Technical Director?….

The role of a Technical Director is to manage and oversee all player and coaching development within the club. In addition, the Technical Director makes sure that all coaches are following a vision, as well as implementing the club philosophy and playing style across the entire club, no matter the age group. It also encompasses recruitment and implementing a scouting system to identify the right players that fit with the clubs playing style and needs going forward.

 

Youth Development…..

 

One of the key features from Brands time at both PSV and AZ is developing good young players and giving them a chance in the first team. Due to the Dutch league being way behind other top leagues in Europe, in terms of money, Dutch clubs put a premium on developing their youth players to both boost their first team squad and also potentially to sell on for profit which is the life blood of most clubs in Holland. As Technical Director Brands oversees the development and coaching at the club, this means he imprints how he wants players to be developed and in what style he wants them to get used to playing so they can transition seamlessly into the first team picture.

Jurgen Locadia, Memphis Depay, Jetro Williams and Jeroen Zoet have all come through PSV’s academy gone into the first team and developed into international players. In Locadia and Depay’s case they were sold for nearly a combined £50 million.

This is one of Brands key tasks at Everton, for too long the styles played at different levels have been completely different and there isn’t one vision that the club is currently developing players under o a identifiable style. Everton have a record of producing a lot of good young players that development seems to stall when they either reach the first team or in the u23’s. The transition will be made much easier if the players are being developed to play a certain way in a few different systems right through the age groups so that when they hit the first team they already know how to fit in and what is expected of them.

 

Domestic Player Bias……

It’s in the transfer market is where Brands has really built his reputation and it’s domestically were most of his best buys have come from. Dries Mertens, Moussa Dembele, Giorginio Wijnaldum, Davy Propper, Luciano Narsingh, Erik Pieters, Kevin Strootman and Ragnar Klavan where all bought for moderate fees and in all cases developed into international players of some repute. Mertens, Dembele and Strootman have gone on to become some of Europe’s finest players and were spotted by Brands playing for lesser Dutch sides.

As well as showing Brands superb eye for talent it also shows that he has identified inefficiencies within the transfer market he can exploit. Dutch teams rely on player sales to stay solvent but unlike in England where the prices are exaggerated, you can sign talented young players for fraction of the price.

This is probably the most difficult thing to apply to Everton due to the nature of English clubs overpricing their young talent to such an extent that Norwich supposedly want £25 million for James Maddison, who is a wonderful talent but never played above Championship level. However the right talent spotter can exploit the fact that teams like Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal and Manchester City don’t generally give their best youth players the fast track to the first team. German teams have seen this inefficiency which is why Jadon Sancho England’s brightest under 18 talent now plays for Borussia Dortmund. If Everton can identify these talents and offer them a fast track to first team then they could have the pick of England’s best 17-19 year olds wanting to play for them.

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The Americas…….

Another feature of Brands time as Technical Director is his identifying of Central American and South American talents to bring over to Holland who have flourished. This is another market that has it inefficiencies which can be exploited in that many teams in the Americas rely on player development and players sales to bring money in whether that from Europe or bigger South American countries. The key is being able to spot players that can deal with the rigours of European football and being able to adapt.

Brands has brought Sergio Romero, Santiago Arias, Hector Moreno, Hirving Lozano, Gaston Periero and Maximiliano Romero into European football. Romero, Lozano and Periero are some of the brightest young talents in world football. Romero, Arias and Moreno have all developed into International players.

Everton do not appear currently to have much of a presence in Central and South America when it comes to scouting. There have been a handful of South American players who have played for the club but none you would identify as hidden gems or astute buys. Everton don’t have a bottomless pit of money like City or United and don’t create the revenues Liverpool or Arsenal do to compete financially in the market with them so they must find a way to exploit the market and find good players for smaller fees who they can develop and get the best out of.

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Transfer Policy…..

 

At both PSV and AZ Alkmaar, Brands has worked under a restrictive budget but still manages to improve the team year in year out with astute buys and also selling some of those buys on for profit. Brands seems to prefer players who are between 18 years old and 25 years old who can go straight into the first team picture and develop to become better players. Brands doesn’t restrict himself though if he feels that there is a player who can improve the side at the right price he has bought older players before like his signings of Hector Moreno and Andres Guadardo for PSV which were outside his usual preferences for younger players.

Both PSV and AZ Alkmaar made vast sums from developing players Brands brought to the club at a young age and selling them on for a profit or even selling youngsters brought through the clubs youth academies for big fees. Memphis Depay was sold for £25 Million, Jurgen Locadia was sold for £14 Million, Kevin Strootman was signed for £3.5 million and sold for £15 million, Dries Mertens was signed for £5 million and was sold for £11 million, Giorginio Wijnaldum was signed for £5 million and sold for £18 million and Davy Propper signed for £4 million and sold for £12 million are just some of the examples of how Brands has identified talent then  developed them at the club and then sold them for profit.

To compete in the Premier League you need either a rich owner or to be able to create massive revenues that allows you to buy the best in transfer market. Liverpool and Tottenham as well as being good commercially have also revamped there squads via players sales. Buying younger players developing them and selling them on at inflated fees (see Coutinho and Walker) allows them to reinvest in the squad year after year without breaking the bank. Everton benefited from this with Lukaku and Stones sales. However under Steve Walsh we started to sign older players in their prime for inflated fees which isn’t sustainable for a club like us, Moshiri may be rich but he can’t continue to spend £200 million without significant funds coming back into club. Brands transfer strategy can keep us being competitive and balance the books through player sales.

The Hypothetical – How would Paulo Fonseca shape this Everton side and what would he need to add!

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Paulo Fonseca has been regularly linked with the Everton manager’s job since Ronald Koeman was relieved of his duties in November. Since then his reputation within European football has gone from strength to strength, with Shakthar making the last 16 of the Champions league whilst playing some great football. In recent weeks he has been linked with Everton but also European heavyweights Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich.

Today I am looking at, IF appointed, how Paulo Fonseca would shape this current Everton side and what he might want to bring in to the club via the transfer market.

 

The Formation

Fonseca since becoming Shakthar manager has favoured a fluid 4-2-3-1 which in possession plays fast attacking football and without the ball presses to optimum efficiency.

 

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Goalkeeper

Andrei Pyatov has been a stalwart at Shakhtar since he made his debut in 2007, since then he has gone on to make 350 appearance for the club. Though he can be quite mistake prone the Ukrainian is a solid keeper who when in possession can start attacks with short, medium or long range passing effectively. In a team that likes to start quick  fluid attacks, having a goalkeeper who can start moves quickly with accurate passing is essential much like Ederson or Manuel Neuer do at their respective clubs

Everton’s current number 1 is Jordan Pickford, who even in a poor season for the club has stood out. Based on pure talent alone there aren’t many goalkeepers in the world who have as much talent as Pickford does at 23 but he isn’t the finished article by any means. Pickford can be a brilliant shot stopper but his decision making when it comes to pushing the ball out or coming for crosses or positioning still needs to be refined. With the ball at his feet though he is one of the best in world at his position, whether it short, medium or long range passes from floor or hand are no problem for Pickford.

Verdict: Pickford for Fonseca would represent a upgrade on Pyatov, all round he is a better goalkeeper and would give Fonseca the outlet in which to start his fast fluid attacks from, whilst also being a solid goalkeeper.

 

Full Back

At right back Fonseca chops and changes depending on the opponent, in Europe Fonseca preferred the defensively solid and more athletic Bohdan Butko, whereas in the league he has preferred the technically superb but declining Darijo Srna. At Left back no matter who the opponent is its Ismailly who gets the nod. The Brazilian is a key cog in Fonseca’s system constantly overlapping and stretching opponents which creates space for the forward players and also himself to do damage in final third.

Full backs are very important in Fonseca’s 4-2-3-1, when the team is in possession high up the pitch the overlapping full back creates a mismatch and leaves the defence stretched. This is very similar to how Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy play at Manchester City creating mismatches and stretching the defence to create space for the forward players to occupy and exploit.

Fonseca can be sure of one thing when it comes to full backs at Everton, Seamus Coleman is perfect for his system. The Irishman much like Ismailly on the left hand side creates havoc whether its overlapping or making diagonal runs off the wing to create confusion and space to maximum affect. The left hand side is more of a question mark, Leighton Baines has been absolutely fantastic since he signed for Everton, possibly the clubs best player in that time frame, however the end is nigh. Baines was a fantastic attacking full back capable over overlapping and creating, with his wand of a left foot but now due to age doesn’t seem to be able to get up and down the pitch which is key to Fonseca’s system. Defensively Baines was solid player but now can be a liability against quicker wingers

Everton realistically need a new Left Back, Baines hasn’t got many seasons left and if a Fonseca type does come in pace and dynamism are needed at Full Back to aid the teams attack. Phillip Max of Augsburg should be on many top clubs wish list, when it comes to buying a new left back but probably doesn’t fit Fonseca’s requirements of a full back as he isn’t the type to overlap or break the lines with dribbling, he is more of an old style left back who gets the ball in the box. Should Everton look to Shakhtar and try and sign Ismailly? I would say no based on the fact the Brazilian is 28 now and the club really needs to look to the future rather than another short term signing. My pick would be Aaron Martin of Espanyol, who has been on the radar of many of Europe’s top clubs this season. Quick and technical, the Spaniard gets up and down well can overlap, can dribble at pace and can create, he also fits the bill in that he is 20, will only get better and would be a wise investment for the club as he is only valued at 20 million euros.

Verdict: the right hand side is an improvement for Fonseca but to get best out of his system Left Back needs upgrading to maximise the systems potential

 

Centre Backs

Centre backs are an important cog for Fonseca both in keeping possession but also initiating quick counter attacks and of course defensively. Yaroslav Rakitskiy aswell as being solid and efficient defensively is the ball playing centre half, capable of 50 yard diagonal balls into space for Ismailly to run onto or neat interchanges to keep possession in his own half. His partner is less important in possession but is much more active in Shakthars pressing game, Ivan Ordets at 6’4 is your classic stopper centre half who goes to meet the ball whether heading the ball away or going out to cut off advancing attackers. In the press he picks up the 10 usually leaving Rakitskiy and Stepanenko to cover the advancing runners off the ball.

Everton’s centre back situation is a complete mess, Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka, despite his resurgence, are coming to the end. Michael Keane, a marquee summer signing, has been exposed tactically away from the warm confines of Sean Dyche’s defensive system. Ramiro Funes Mori has been injured all season and Mason Holgate whilst developing still does not have the natural instinct of a centre back after spending the majority of his career at full back. Funes Mori could be used by Fonseca as he is comfortable both on the ball whilst also coming out of defence to defend in space.

Due to the importance of Centre backs in Fonseca system and the fact Everton have been woeful defensively this season, I would suggest 2 players need to be bought to replace the aging Williams and Jagielka. In terms of a Ball Playing centre back Alfie Mawson (Accurate Long and Short passer) Benjamin Pavard and Clement Lenglet should be considered all fit the mould of being able to initiate attacks whilst also being good solid defenders. For a stopper style centre back the club should look no further than Issa Diop, Jamal Lascelles and Harry Maguire (unlikely but fits the role perfectly) all big athletic centre backs comfortable in possession but solid foundation for defence to be built upon.

Verdict: In need of a major upgrade for defensive purposes aswell as to fit Fonseca’s proposed system.

 

Defensive Midfield/The Double Pivot

At Shakthar this position has the perfect combination in which to build the team’s possession game aswell as break down other team’s defensive lines. Taras Stepanenko is the deep lying midfielder of the two, who aswell as protecting the centre backs often drops in between the two when the team is in possession to give more options whilst also allowing the full backs to line up higher up the field ready to overlap at a moment’s notice. Fred is the box to box midfielder in the two and probably Shakthars most influential player, whether it carrying the ball and breaking the lines of defence with his dribbling or being the teams creative fulcrum in the final third, Fred can do it all. Whilst Stepanenko sits and covers for Ordets when he steps out Fred is heavily active in pressing the opponents midfielders higher up the pitch.

Again Everton midfield options are hit and miss. Wayne Rooney has been the team’s most effective performer but in reality can only play in certain games against teams that allow him time on the ball and due to his lack of legs the better teams in the league make him a passenger without the ball. Idrissa Gueye is N’Golo Kante light, he is energetic, a nuisance and wins the ball back at a high rate however unlike Kante he is very limited on the ball which has seen his influence diminish whilst playing next to Morgan Schneiderlin as he is asked to be a box to box midfielder which he cannot do. Schneiderlin has been a disaster, the player who was so smooth and efficient last season has given way to a lazy, disinterested liability who is current enemy number one of the Goodison faithful. Tom Davies who has a lot of raw talent that hasn’t been developed this season has suffered a sophomore slump but has all the qualities needed to become a good premier league midfielder.

This is the position that causes me the most trouble when it comes to assessing both Everton’s needs and Fonseca’s system needs. Morgan Schneiderlin would be perfect in the Stepanenko role and is a much more accomplished passer than the Ukrainian but will he be at the club beyond the summer and is he a lost cause mentally. Gueye and Rooney despite their obvious pluses don’t fit in Fonseca’s double pivot, Gueye isn’t disciplined enough to play Stepanenko’s role and isn’t good enough on ball to recreate Fred’s role. Rooney whilst having the range of passing required doesn’t have the legs to play as the box to box midfielder and leaves the team short defensively and in the pressing game. Tom Davies would need to be developed but he is both a good passer and fits the mould of a box to box midfielder but needs a lot of refinement to his game before being relied on regularly to do that role.

Fonseca may need to buy again to solve this issue but with money limited other positions may take priority. I do think Everton and Fonseca would need someone to fill the Fred role to a signing would be needed in that position. My candidates would be Jack Wilshere, who is available on Free transfer and when fit can do everything you require of a box to box midfielder he breaks the lines, can pick and pass and break up play. Abdoulaye Doucoure of Watford would bring physicality to the role aswell as someone who can break the lines with dribbling and he can pick a pass aswell as chip in with goals. Fabian Ruiz of Betis can be the team’s creative fulcrum aswell as carry the ball and break the lines.

Verdict: Salvaging Schneiderlin or refining Gueye should solve one position whilst a new signing is required in the box to box role to enhance the teams attacking potential

 

Attacking Midfield

A Key in Shakthars attacking play this season is the fluidity and versatility of its three attacking midfielders who interchange all the time to create constant mismatches around the pitch. Marlos, Taison and Bernard can all play centrally or on either wing, are just as efficient with the ball as they are without. Though all 3 are natural number 10’s, in Fonseca’s system they occupy a variety of roles much like Silva and De Bruyne do for Pep’s City side. All three are fantastic dribblers which constantly opens up defences and creates panic as they advance on isolated defenders. All three also are heavily involved in the pressing game where there athleticism and football intelligence shine through.

Everton’s attacking midfielder options are much more rigid. Gylfi Sigurdsson who is versatile and very good technically, isn’t very creative from open play or dynamic enough to break the lines of defence with pace and flair. Yannick Bolasie is a classic winger type that likes to beat his full back and get the ball in the box, he lacks variety in his play and his decision making is woeful at best. Theo Walcott has pace and some flair but isn’t very versatile and his final ball is still what holds him back from being a top player. Nikola Vlasic is versatile can man all 3 positions and has the talent to play in the premier league but hasn’t been able to show much this season due to the constant change in management. Ademola Lookman is probably Everton’s most exciting player but is currently out on Loan at RB Leipzig and is still ironing out his decision making and consistency issues.

This another problem position for Everton in general and would be for Fonseca to fit to his favoured system. Sigurdsson whilst versatile, hardworking and good technically really lacks the dynamism and pace required to unlock stacked defences with the ball at his feet. Bolasie and Walcott are not versatile, they aren’t suited to interchanging roles and occupying a central spaces. Walcott has the pace to unlock defences but the fact he still plays as a right winger when most wingers who have his goal scoring prowess play as inside forward off the left suggest he can be quite limited. Bolasie lacks the football intelligence to play in a fluid attacking three like Fonseca wants to use. Lookman and Vlasic have most of the requirements needed to play in Fonseca’s system but needs developing in certain aspects of their game before being relied upon heavily. Henry Onyekuru and Kieran Dowell will be available to choose as of next season and both possess the necessary tools to be part of the attacking midfield but in both players there are questions that need to be answered.

Bernard is available on a free transfer and would add some much needed creativity and dynamism to the attacking midfield options, Everton currently possess and his familiarity with Fonseca’s system would be desirable. Norwich’s James Maddison is versatile, dynamic and creative and would fit Fonseca’s system well. Joaquin Correa would be another option from Sevilla, who is versatile, creative and intelligent. Manuel Lanzini would also be an option.

Verdict: Walcott and Sigurdsson would have to adapt but offer enough in the short term to be part of Fonseca’s plans. A signing would be welcome to add some more versatility, creativity and craft to the group. The development of Onyekuru, Lookman, Vlasic and Dowell will be key.

 

Centre Forward

To the surprise of many English fan the man leading Shakthars line is Facundo Ferrerya, who couldn’t get a sniff on loan at Newcastle. Hard working without possession he acts as a typical number 9 in the system running the channels, pressing highest up the pitch, holding up the ball then bringing in his more skilful and dynamic team mates and being a menace in and around the box.

Everton’s striking options though much maligned this season are actually promising. Cenk Tosun has settled now and is scoring goals in the premier league and while he not the type of player to create a goal out of nothing with the right service he can be very effective. Dominic Calvert Lewin has often been misused as a target man for most of the season, when his game is much more well rounded than that and has contributed to the cause despite being isolated on his own up front. Oumar Niasse has been miscast as a starter due to his goalscoring record but is much more suited to being an impact sub of the bench who can stretch tired defences late in games.

Fonseca would be in my opinion pleased to have Cenk Tosun leading the line in his system, he is a better version of Ferrerya, hardworking, instinctive, links play well and a menace in the box. Calvert Lewin could possibly benefit from a loan move away but due to his versatility and skill would be a useful complement/ change of pace to Tosun in Fonseca’s system. Oumar Niasse is that well suited to the system due to his raw technical ability but used right as a impact sub still has a role to play at the club under Fonseca.

One potential transfer target could be Maxi Gomez who has a Luis Suarez like workrate, is instinctive and good in the air, would also be perfectly suited to leading the line in Fonseca’s 4-2-3-1. Onyekuru and Walcott could also be used as change of pace options when playing on the counter.

 

Conclusion

Who knows if Paulo Fonseca will decide to come to Everton, as an Evertonian I can only hope but I think he would have a 2/3 year project on his hands to implement his style of play and get right players to make it work. There are some good building blocks already in place like Pickford, Coleman and Tosun, some good young layers to mould like Lookman, Dowell, Onyekuru and Davies into what fits his system and some good solid short term pieces like Sigurdsson and Walcott who whilst they may not be perfect fits offer enough to make it work. Some new signings are a must especially in at Centre back, Left back and Central midfield.

Potential Everton team under Fonseca

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The Candidates!

It is presumed around the footballing world that Farhad Moshiri will move on from Sam Allardyce in the summer. The current Everton manager has done what has been asked of him and kept the club in the Premier League but the underlying feeling is that Moshiri wants more and has loftier ambitions than the former England manager can provide.

Here I will discuss some of the candidates for the job and also discuss some other potential names that may not have been considered or are not known to the masses in England.

The Incumbent …..

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Sam Allardyce was appointed Everton Manager 30th November 2017 when the club where coming off the back of two heavy defeats to Southampton and Atalanta. Tasked with ensuring safety Allardyce has completed his task with 7 games to go, but should he be given the further year on his contract?

The answer is No, not that Allardyce is a poor manager or he has done an awful job, in essence his job was to ensure that the club stayed in the premier league and he has done that but it doesn’t jump out at you when you watch Everton that his tactics or style of play will help the club end their long wait for silverware.

The bigger question for me is why let Allardyce continue for another 12 months then have to rebuild when he leaves? Why not bring in a new manager to build a squad over the course of a couple of seasons with the goal to challenge for a top four spot. By keeping Allardyce your delaying that goal, he favours more experienced players in transfer market and hasn’t got a great reputation when it comes to developing young players. For a club of Everton’s size and wealth it’s imperative that they sign younger players and develop them, either to have them long term or to sell then on for a massive profit like Spurs or Liverpool have done. That doesn’t fit with Allardyce’s short termism as a manager and he will want to keep his reputation intact rather than think about the clubs long term future.

Verdict: Thanks for keeping us up but here is £6 million and goodbye!

 

The Realistics…….

 Eddie Howe has been linked with various jobs since he came into the Premier League with Bournemouth. Howe is young, talented and English, which in a league with very few young English managers means he is a sort after man. Bournemouth under Howe have risen from League 2 to the Premier league playing an exciting passing style of football. Howe has kept Bournemouth in Premier League playing to win every game unlike a lot of pragmatists who occupy the managerial positions of many bottom half clubs.

Howe has a reputation for improving players with rigorous work on the training ground to squeeze every last bit of improvement out of his players. Steve Cook, Simon Francis, Charlie Daniels, Junior Stanislas and Harry Arter are now established Premier league players under Howe’s tutelage which is really impressive considering know one had really heard of them before Bournemouth. He also signs young talented players like Nathan Ake, Joshua King, Jordan Ibe and Lewis Cook and improves them to some degree. These are some of the qualities Everton require in a manager.

I don’t think Howe should ever leave Bournemouth, he has a job for life, players who are willing to run through brick walls for him and has full control over the club. I am not 100% sure his methods would work with players of a higher level, would they commit to Howe’s rigorous self-improvement and buy into his methods? It didn’t go swimmingly at Burnley during his time there in between his two Bournemouth stints.

Verdict: No but the admiration is there

 

Marco Silva is currently unemployed partly due to Everton, when Ronald Koeman was relieved of his duties Farhad Moshiri made numerous offers to Watford to prise away there impressive manager. When Watford rejected them the team seem to go into a tailspin and never recovered until Silva was sacked and replaced by Javi Gracia.

Up until Everton’s interest Watford performing well 11 games yielded 4 wins and 3 draws playing exciting football but also being solid defensively. Silva oversaw marked improvements in the form of some of his players including Abdoulaye Doucoure, now wanted by the Premier Leagues elite. In his previous job at Hull Silva gave the club hope of survival when there was virtually none and also showed people that Oumar Niasse was a premier league footballer and breathed life back into Lazar Markovic’s career.

My concerns with Silva are twofold. One, he never seems to stay in a job long enough to build anything and his head is turned when he is linked with bigger clubs, this is not something Everton need when they need to build for sustained long term success. Two, apart from brief periods his teams seem defensively naïve which Everton have experienced before when Roberto Martinez was manager. Watford conceded a lot of late goals under his stewardship this season which cost them points.

Verdict: Maybe, he is a good manager but comes with question marks

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Paulo Fonseca has rose to prominence in European football by leading Shakthar Donetsk to the Last 16 of The Champions League. What been so impressive is that this isn’t the Shakthar Donetsk of old who spent big on South American imports and won the Europa League. Since the Civil War, Shakthar haven’t been able to play in their own stadium or bring in many new players, since Fonseca arrived at the club they have only spent £4 million on new players.

Despite all this Fonseca has them playing an exciting 4-2-3-1 formation, with Fred and Stepanenko supplying the 4 South American forward players, with the 2 full backs overlapping and creating havoc in the forward areas. This would translate well to the Premier league and isn’t too dissimilar to other top teams systems that have been successful. He gets the most out of what he has got which is important for an Everton team full of underachieving overpriced players. Shakthar on paper shouldn’t really be in last 16 of Champions league but due to their Manager they have overachieved in style.

The obvious risk is he hasn’t managed in Premier League before which is why Mark Hughes, Alan Pardew and Paul Lambert have been given jobs despite their obvious flaws. In my opinion Fonseca is ready he is charismatic, a tactician and an extremely capable coach. If Everton don’t pounce quickly he could be snapped up by bigger fish in Europe. He is a manager capable of getting the maximum out of a group of players, can work under a budget and play an exciting brand of football.

Verdict: Ticks all the Boxes! Welcome Paulo

 

 In Our Dreams……..

Diego Simeone is let’s be honest every Evertonians dream manager. He has broken the Real/Barcelona monopoly in La Liga, his teams play technically efficient football but with a premium on defence and one charismatic but scary man. Atletico’s success under him has been unbelievable 2 Champions League finals, 1 Europa League and 1 La Liga championship.

Despite playing in the shadows of a bigger, more world renowned and successful club he has made Atletico one of the elite. Everton are not too dissimilar in terms of history to Atletico and share the city with a renowned and successful club. Imagine if Simeone could do with Everton what he has done with Atletico that would make him a legend.

Sadly despite Moshiri being very very interested in acquiring him it is probably a pipe dream. Simeone when he leaves Atletico will be able to walk into any job in Europe. I very much doubt that he is interested in rebuilding another club from ground up to try and take on the big boys. I can see him taking a job that gives him a chance at winning the champions league after coming so close twice.

Verdict: We can Dream but then reality bites

 Antonio Conte took the Premier League by storm last year playing a 3-4-3 with marauding full backs that waltzed to the League title with ease. It’s all gone a bit wrong this season, Abramovich has a habit of resting on his laurels after success and it usually means a down season for the club. This season is no different with Conte seeming like a dead man walking who won’t be at Chelsea beyond the summer.

Conte will be a free agent in the summer once he is relieved of his Chelsea duties and is a fantastic manager. Tactically there are not many better in football and he has a habit of getting the best out of players as seen with Victor Moses, who before becoming a marauding wing back was a journeyman winger going on loan after loan and Cesar Azpilicueta who Conte turned into a ball playing centre half after a career as a full back.

Despite being a Free Agent I doubt very much Everton would be able to get a meeting with Conte, he will be on all the top clubs radars in the summer with PSG and other looking for a new manager.

Verdict: No Chance

 

From Europe……

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Lucien Favre is a superb manager that not many people known about. He has managed in Switzerland, Germany and France for the majority of his career without winning a great deal but leaving his mark wherever he has been. Favre is a massive overachiever that what he does he gets a group of players and squeezes every last drop of talent and effort out of them.

At Hertha Berlin he led the club to a 4th placed finish despite having the 13th largest budget at his disposal. He then kept Gladbach in the Bundesliga in his first season before leading them to a 4th place finish the following season. He then moved on to Nice in France and in his first season led the club to a 3rd place finish and Champions League qualification. These clubs when he took over where not in dissimilar position to where Everton our now just outside the elite or under achieving and he transformed them.

Favre wanted to become Everton manager when the club appointed Ronald Koeman, he got sick of waiting around so took the Nice job. In hindsight Everton probably should have employed him and may not be in the position they are now. As well as getting the maximum out of his players he has even managed to make Mario Balotelli a consistent player, having scored 29 league goals in 43 games.

Apart from his Age (60) he ticks all the boxes and whilst the squad is being rebuilt he is likely to overachieve and have us qualifying for the Europa league which is important in terms of attracting players.

Verdict: Has to be an option

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Thomas Tuchel since leaving Dortmund in the summer has been linked with every vacant manager job in Europe and with good reason. He overachieved at Mainz leading the club to a 5th place finish with a group of young players then at Dortmund where the club finished 2nd behind Pep’s Bayern but playing an exciting fast fluid attacking style of football that had plaudits all around Europe.

Tuchel’s strength is in his coaching and development of players, this makes him very desirable to Everton with the large group of raw but talented youngster who need the right manager to mould them. Julian Weigl, Christian Pulisic and Ilkay Gundogan improved immensely under Tuchel and became much sort after players.

The only perceived negatives with Tuchel is some think he underachieved at Dortmund which is misconception. His first year when they were fantastic was also Pep Guardiola’s last at Bayern, the same Pep who has the highest winning percentage as a manager in Bundesliga history. In his second season they lost Gundogan, Hummels and Mkhitaryan which would be tough for any manager to deal with. The other negative is his fall out with the board and the recruitment team at Dortmund over the failed transfer of Oliver Torres who he wanted to replace Gundogan and the aftermath of the team bus bombing which cost them a place in the semi-finals of Champions league, this led to his departure as the relationships became fractured.

Tuchel ticks all the boxes he is young, ambitious, tactically astute, a great coach and plays the type of exciting attacking football that would have Evertonians excited. There are rumours he was offered the job in November and wasn’t interested.

Verdict: Yes Please but unlikely to come

 

Simone Inzaghi is a Lazio man through and through, he played 150 plus games for the clubs scored a lot of goals, became U20 manager and then became Manager last year. Since he took over as manager the club has gone from strength to strength, finishing 5th last season and getting to a cup final and being in a position to challenge for a Champions league place this season.

Lazio play an exciting brand of football with a group of players not many outside of Serie A would of heard of, but this summer that will all change with midfield maestro Sergej Milinković-Savić, winger Felipe Anderson and central defender Stefan De Vrij all wanted by Europe’s elite. Ciro Immobile who struggled after his big move to Dortmund is transformed under Inzaghi scoring 60 goals in 77 games since his move to Lazio.

Inzaghi meets the requirements in terms of what Everton need, he develops players, he gets the best out of players who have underachieved, he is tactically flexible (see his use of the 5-3-2 to beat Juventus) and plays exciting football.

Verdict: Good but Lazio for life!

 Julian-Nagelsmann

Julian Nagelsmann is only 30 years old! But is one of the hottest managerial prospects in Europe due to the marvellous job he has done at Hoffenheim. Nagelsmann is one of a wave of young german managers taking the Bundesliga by storm and has already been heavily linked with Bayern and Dortmund in recent months.

Nagelsmann took a Hoffenheim team full of young players and journeymen and achieved Champions League qualification in his first full season. Utilising Karim Demirbay and Nadiem Amiri to full effect they play an efficient possession based style that is very fluid tactically they change formations with and without the ball to overload in attack or press efficiently and have banks of four in defence. His former player Niklas Sule now of Bayern described him as a “tactics freak”.

Nagelsmann has been nothing but impressive during his time as Hoffenheim manager getting the best out of his older players and developing his younger players into full internationals. He is a tactical whizzkid that would give Guardiola, Klopp and Mourinho fits with the right team. Everton would be taking a massive gamble to hire a 30 year old manager but still the talent is there why not get ahead of the curve and offer him the keys to Goodison.

Verdict: Tactical Whizzkid that will have better offers sadly

 

Thinking Outside of the Box…

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Slavisa Jokanovic for me is the best manager in the Championship, He led Watford to Promotion before being sacked before they played a premier league game and even in trying circumstances has Fulham playing the most attractive football in the championship and has them chasing promotion once again.

Jokanovic has had to put up with a weird transfer policy at Fulham over the last 18 months that really hindered the clubs process with people above him buying players he didn’t want or need rather than players he wanted and needed. With that resolved Fulham are on a hell of a tear in 2018 racing up the table and scoring goals for fun.

It’s not the norm for a Premier League team to hire a Championship manager but Jokanovic should definitely be under consideration. Fulham have not lost since December and are the joint top scorers in the championship this season and Jokanovic stands by his principles of playing attacking expansive football despite spending his career as a defensive midfielder. He is considered a fantastic man manager which in today’s premier league is a very important trait for a manager.

I think he suits Everton down to the ground! He plays attacking exciting football, excellent man manager gives youth a chance (Ryan Sessengnon) and develops players (Tom Cairney).

 Verdict: A Gamble worth taking

Graham Potter was a virtual unknown before his team Ostersunds FK knocked out the mighty Galatasaray to make the UEFA Europa League group stages but that wasn’t the end of the fairy-tale for the English manager in the frozen tundra of Sweden.

I won’t go into too much detail about Potter as there must have been 50 stories on the Swedish clubs meteoric rise under the Englishmen’s management. From team bonding sessions that involved putting on Swan Lake at a local theatre to the condition’s in which they have to work in Potter has done a marvellous job.

He has done an extraordinary job with the Swedish club taking National League and below players and making them Europa league quality players. I just don’t think Everton can take such a risk, he obviously is a very talented and innovative manager but The Premier League is a massive step up from Sweden and the type of players he is used to working with.

Verdict: Championship experience required

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Mikel Arteta was a much beloved Everton player, a midfield maestro who along with Steven Pienaar brought the technical ability to take David Moyes’s team to new heights in terms of style. When he left for Arsenal is was probably my saddest day as a football fan much was my love for “the best little Spaniard we know”.

He now after finishing his playing career is one of Pep Guardiola’s most trusted assistant at Manchester City who have absolutely destroyed the field in the premier league this season. Apart from the late great Tito Villanova and Juan Carlos Unzue none of Guardiola’s backroom team have gone into management so it is difficult to gauge what being part of the great man’s backroom team means for your prospects as a manager. Villanova won La Liga before sadly succumbing to Cancer and Unzue who was Guardiola’s goalkeeping coach has gone at to do a good job at Celta this season.

Obviously it would be great to have a fan favourite back in the dugout at Goodison but is Arteta ready and what type of manager would he be. Cloning Pep is a difficult thing to do especially if you don’t have the right players to build his great system around. In conclusion Arteta’s is probably too much of an unknown at this point even if he as Everton manager excites me.

Verdict: Love you but you need more experience

 My semi realistic Shortlist

  1. Paulo Fonseca
  2. Thomas Tuchel
  3. Lucien Favre
  4. Slavisa Jokanovic

The Summer at Goodison Park

This season has been a complete mess at Everton! 3 managers, £200 million plus poorly invested and awful performances on the pitch. The season started with so much promise, money invested and looking to break into the Premier league elite but now all that has given way to a relegation dogfight and a rebuild to get to where they want to be. Here I examine what Everton must do to start this rebuild off in the right manner and give their fans cause for optimism, which has sadly given way to mass pessimism, before the new campaign gets under way.

Solve the Steve Walsh/Director of Football issue…..

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Steve Walsh arrived at Everton with a glowing reputation for being able to find cheap gems in a vastly exaggerated transfer market. Vardy, Mahrez and Kante were Walsh’s key finds and lead Leicester to Premier league glory. However since being installed as Everton’s Director of Football it’s all gone very wrong. Armed with Farhad Moshiri’s war chest, Walsh has for the most part been poor with only Idrissa Gueye, Jordan Pickford and Theo Walcott proving value for money. Everton have spent £45 million on Gylfi Sigurdsson, £26 million on Michael Keane, £25 million on Davy Klaassen and £24 million on Morgan Schneiderlin for very little return.

The options are either move Walsh to the Chief Scout role he occupied at Leicester thus removing his sphere of influence over the clubs transfer policy or sack him. Marcel Brands of PSV Endhoven who has much more experience in the role has been linked with a move to the club and would likely implement a transfer policy a club in Everton’s position need! More on that below.

Thank Sam Allardyce and send him on his way…….

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Allardyce and Everton are not meant to be! The former England manager was brought into right the ship and ensure the club stayed in the Premier league and has done so. However it’s not been smooth sailing with Evertonians bristling over his tactics, style of play, team selection and press conferences. The facts are this Sam Allardyce whatever you may think of him is a good football manager his record speaks for itself but he is of a certain level and is not the man to lead a club of Everton’s size into a rebuild with the goal of being in the premier league elite.

Hire a New Manager……

This is probably the single most important decision of the summer for Everton’s board, The right man must be identified and in place by the start of June ready to identify transfer targets, build a coaching staff and plan for pre-season. The right candidate needs to have the requisite skills to suits Everton’s needs. He must be tactically flexible, tactically astute, implement a definable style of play which excites the fans and be adept at developing players. Whoever Everton choose they must be given time to implement their style of play and build a squad capable of doing so! Everton need to think medium term, 2 to 3 seasons of improvement and signing the right players as it cannot be done over a couple of windows as the last 2 years have shown.

Put a Premium on Player Development…..

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Everton’s Squad and Under 23 team boast a bevy of promising youngsters with a lot of raw talent. Ademola Lookman, Tom Davies, Dominic Calvert Lewin, Kieran Dowell, Beni Baningme, JonJoe Kenny, Mason Holgate, Nikola Vlasic, Brendan Galloway, Antonee Robinson, Morgan Feeney, Lewis Gibson, Josh Bowler, Callum Connolly and a few others all have talent. The club need to make it a priority to develop these players from within whether it sending them out on the right loans, ensuring the coaching staff is built to help these players develop the best way possible or give them the game time they need to improve. Farhad Moshiri may be a billionaire but he does not have a bottomless pit of money like Manchester City’s owners do. Developing players from within will both save money long term and possibly make Everton money if they reach their potential and are sold for big fees like Spurs have done in recent past. Tottenham have put a premium on developing their young players under Mauricio Pochettino and it has paid off.

Change Transfer Policy…….

Everton have spent a lot of money since Farhad Moshiri came to the club but in reality the club are no better off than they were spending relative pennies in the Bill Kenwright era. As stated earlier Farhad Moshiri has money but he cannot sanction £200 million spends every summer it’s not a sustainable model for the club so implementing a Transfer policy may be the right way to go. Clubs like Monaco, Ajax, Dortmund, Spurs, PSV Eindhoven and Sevilla realised that they could not compete with the mega rich clubs of Europe in the transfer market so they implemented a policy of signing talented players, who they could develop and may be sell on for massive fees to the bigger clubs. Signing players between the ages of 19-26 who are already good players who can get better is the right way to go for Everton.

Ashley Williams, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott were all 28 and over when Everton signed them and all cost the club north of £10 million. In Walcott and Sigurdsson case they are still in their primes but by the time the club is ready to challenge for Champions League football will be in their decline and have little or no sell on value. They were not terrible signings they are just short sighted in terms of where the club wants to be and enabling the club to sustain upward trajectory long term. In Sigurdsson’s case £45 million for a 28 year old who isn’t going to get better was short sighted especially when Liverpool signed a 25 year old Mohammed Salah for £39 million who they could now command £100 million plus for.

Conclusion……

If Everton can implement these changes, think medium to long term and communicate the clubs goals to the fans then in a couple of seasons times they may be ready to challenge for Champions League football and sustain it. Getting the fans back on side and having them invested in the rebuild is key for the club.