Football Features

How Marco Silva gambled on Brands’ influence in Everton 2-0 West Ham

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:48, 19 October 2019 | Updated: 17:27, 20 October 2019

Everton ran out 2-0 winners against West Ham at Goodison Park subsequently picking up a much-needed Premier League win.

Before the recent international break, Marco Silva’s men had suffered four consecutive defeats, scoring three goals and conceding nine times, which dropped them into the relegation places.

Pressure was mounting and his job was coming under severe threat with a number of high-profile names linked as potentially succeeding him. Silva needed a result against Manuel Pellegrini’s side who themselves have stumbled off late.

Cometh the hour, cometh several big signings. Bernard, who joined on a free transfer from Shakhtar Donetsk last year, broke the deadlock via a sumptuous finish moments after interim Hammers goalkeeper Roberto denied Tom Davies with a brilliant save.

Bernard was teed up by Theo Walcott, who has often blown hot and cold since arriving from Arsenal, but today was one of his better games. Another ex-Gunners was equally impressive. Alex Iwobi playing as the deep-lying forward behind Richarlison was pulling the strings, creating no fewer than two goalscoring opportunities, and continually pushing West Ham’s defence back with penetrative runs.

Two of those aforementioned names became Toffee players following Marcel Brands’ appointment as sporting director in 2018; across Everton’s starting XI there were no fewer than seven Brands/Silva signings: Richarlison, Lucas Digne, Yerry Mina, Djibril Sidibé, Bernard and Andre Gomes.

Conspicuous by his absence was Gylfi Sigurdsson, who is the club’s most expensive acquisition, which is surely a reaction to some lacklustre performances of late – the Icelandic international undoubtedly playing below his usual standards – but he came on with three minutes remaining in normal time and scored a stunning five minutes later. That’s how you react after being passed.

If anything this was a Silva team built in his image and could be a sign of things to come. The fact on this historic occasion – never before have so many of those bought since he became Everton coach began a game under him – they claimed all three points must satisfy the Portuguse tactician going forward.

What next for Everton?

Only three points would have sufficed here. The atmosphere at Goodison Park has yet to become poisonous and there are no signs of a mutinous dressing room, but Silva couldn’t afford to just ride out this storm, results – simply put, victories – are paramount. He was the man supporters wanted and the goodwill received following his controversial switch from Watford has been slowly chipped away for the best part of this year.

It got to the point where before today’s showdown with West Ham there were names, such as former AC Milan and Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri, being touted as taking over the reigns. He couldn’t have been under any more pressure and Silva reacted accordingly by making those sweeping changes.

Suffering five successive defeats is beneath a side many felt would challenge for a top six place before the season. The quality at Silva’s disposal is unquestionable; so the buck stops at him. As touched upon, with the bulk of his side made up of players he gave the green light to join, this could very well be a turning point especially with there now being a run of winnable games.

Their upcoming five games include Brighton & Hove Albion and fellow strugglers Southampton on the road plus a visit from Norwich City with Tottenham Hotspur (home) and Leicester City (away) providing ample tests.

What next for West Ham?

One crisis seemingly averted, another could be developing. West Ham went into their recent home game against Crystal Palace knowing a win could leave them rubbing shoulders with the league’s top four sides. But such a tantalising opportunity was not grabbed with both hands as the Eagles departed the London Stadium with all three points.

Defeat here at Goodison Park, in a game the Hammers never got to grips with, leaves them having registered one win from their last five Premier League outings – and that was against lowly Manchester United – back-to-back losses will no doubt stiffen Pellegrini who saw his club spend lavishly in the summer.

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The absence of Lukasz Fabianski, who has played well for the east London club, is being felt, but his stand-in Roberto did well this afternoon and there was nothing he could do to prevent both of Everton’s goals.

There’s no doubt supporters will be feeling a tad frustrated especially after those promises being made. Next up are consecutive home games against Sheffield United and Newcastle United they must surely fancy their chances of returning to winning ways and getting this season back on track.