Premier League: Is Marco Silva the right fit for Hull?

Marco Silva is the favourite to replace Phelan as Hull manager
Marco Silva is the favourite to replace Phelan as Hull manager

Marco Silva has become the odds-on favourite to take charge of Hull City following Mike Phelan's dismissal, but is he the right man for the job? Alex Keble takes a look at his tactics and track record to determine whether or not he can save the Tigers from the drop.

"Silva will be a very good fit for Hull, but only if they consider the current campaign a write-off and allow Silva to build a new squad over the summer."

Marco Silva has emerged as the front-runner and odds-on favourite to replace Mike Phelan as Hull City manager, with Sky Sports reporting that the 39-year-old Portuguese coach will hold talks with the club on Wednesday. He is currently available to back with Betfair Exchange at 1.222/9.

Silva has enjoyed phenomenal success at each of his three previous clubs (Estoril, Sporting, and Olympiacos) and certainly seems ready to manage in the Premier League. But are relegation-destined Hull the right fit? And what exactly will Silva bring to the club?


Silva's background

After spending the majority of his playing career at Estoril, Silva became their manager in 2011 and defied the odds by immediately winning the Segunda Liga title, leading the club to the top tier of Portuguese football for the first time in seven years. But the best was still to come.

Over the next two seasons Silva built a resilient young team that, remarkably, finished fifth in 2012/13 and - despite losing several key players that summer - fourth in 2013/14. These were the joint highest league positions in the club's history (tying with the 1946/47 and 1947/48 campaigns), and the feat did not go unnoticed: Sporting Lisbon appointed Silva that summer.

In just 12 months at Sporting, Silva led the club to a very respectable third in the top flight and lifted the Taca de Portugal, their first major silverware in seven years. However, he was dismissed at the end of the season due to his difficult relationship with the club director and the sudden availability of Jorge Jesus.

Silva became Olympiacos manager in 2015 and again enjoyed unprecedented success. He left the post one year later after winning 79% of matches and winning the Greek title with six games to spare. Highlights of the season included a 17-match winning streak and a famous 3-2 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates.


Silva's strengths and tactical approach

The Hull City target frequently draws comparisons with Jose Mourinho, largely because of his conservative and reactive managerial approach. In each of his five seasons as a manager Silva has prioritised defensive resilience and a pragmatic counter-attacking philosophy.

This was not always popular at Sporting or Olympiacos, although inevitably complaints of negative football were silenced by Silva's brilliant results. Perhaps the best example of his tactical strategy was that famous result in North London, when his organised Olympiacos side counter-attacked with ruthless efficiency, stunning an Arsenal team that had expected to triumph easily.

Another prominent attribute of Silva's is his resourcefulness. He likes to revive the careers of rejected players (such as Nani at Sporting), and is keen on signing young prospects that can be moulded into highly disciplined, defensive players.

His battling under-dog mentality is what saw Estoril grab big results against Portugal's traditional big three, including an away win at Porto in his final year at the club. It was the hosts' first home defeat in almost six years.


Does he suit Hull?

It is difficult to envisage any manager saving Hull City from relegation this season given that they have collected a meagre seven points from the last 18 league games, but he appears to be the perfect choice to lead the Tigers in the Championship next season.

Resilience and consistency are the most important assets for any club looking to fight their way out of England's second tier. It was also the identity of Hull under Steve Bruce, who led the club to the Premier League via the play-offs last May.

Silva is a renowned motivator and has regularly upset the odds with a defensive, never-say-die mentality. For this reason, he will remain stoic for the rest of this long and wearying campaign, although it would take an absolute miracle to drag Hull out of the bottom three. Expect Dieumerci Mbokani to become a key figure once he returns from the Africa Cup of Nations (his strength and battling spirit make him a likely fulcrum for Silva as a lone striker), while the hard-working duo of Sam Clucas and Tom Huddlestone should become favourites.


Conclusion

It is perhaps a more surprising choice for Silva than it is for Hull. The 39-year-old's stock is very high at the moment after three successful managerial stints, and given how volatile such a status has become in the modern game a move to the Tigers - who didn't give Mike Phelan much of a chance - represents a huge gamble. If he fails to arrest the decline this campaign Silva might be relieved of his duties, with his reputation in England suffering a heavy, if undeserved, hit.

It might even be considered a coup for Hull to land Silva, a man touted for the Sevilla job over the summer and presumably with many other options around Europe. He will be a very good fit for Hull, but only if they consider the current campaign a write-off and allow Silva to build a new squad over the summer.

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