After Sam Allardyce departed Goodison Park as expected, all the early money to replace him has been for Marco Silva. Alex Keble looks ahead to what a spell under the former Hull and Watford manager may bring to Everton...
"During his brief spells at Hull City and Watford Silva displayed a desire to play boldly aggressive attacking football – which will delight Everton fans desperate to forget the tedium of Big Sam’s six-month tenure."
Marco Silva is the 4/11 favourite to become the new Everton manager after Sam Allardyce was sacked by the club on Wednesday morning. Talks are reportedly going well between the Portuguese and the Toffees' hierarchy, meaning the Merseyside club should finally get the man they wanted to replace Ronald Koeman back in October.
It would be a superb appointment, bringing dynamic and aesthetic football to Everton at a time when a more progressive approach is needed to take the next step and challenge the "big six". During his brief spells at Hull City and Watford Silva displayed a desire to play boldly aggressive attacking football - which will delight Everton fans desperate to forget the tedium of Big Sam's six-month tenure.
Silva's tactics suit the Everton squad
Everton will predominantly utilise a 3-4-2-1 formation under Silva, and although the Portuguese frequently shifts formation - as any fluid attacking coach should - a narrow system that uses inside forwards and high levels of positional interchanging will form the basis of the team.
Perhaps surprisingly, the Toffees' squad is already fairly well suited to his attack-minded, high-pressing methods. The squad is bloated with attacking midfielders, which suits a Chelsea-esque double playmaker 3-4-2-1, and Silva's counter-pressing instincts mean both Gylfi Sigurdsson and Davy Klaasen should thrive in the number ten space.
Elsewhere, intelligent footballers like Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Idrissa Gueye will quickly adapt to his high-tempo passing triangles, while full-backs Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman will enjoy being given the freedom to overlap at every opportunity.
Everton and Silva is a very good fit. But that doesn't mean the job will be easy; here are three steps he needs to take this summer:
1) Sign a ball-playing centre-back and a box-to-box midfielder
Everton's biggest problem this season has been in central midfield. Gueye is an excellent footballer but Morgan Schneiderlin is too slow for the modern game and Tom Davies too erratic defensively to be trusted in this role. Silva's brave attacking style, plus his use of a two-man midfield in a 3-4-3, means athleticism is paramount.
It wouldn't be a surprise to see Silva return to Watford for Abdoulaye Doucoure, who was outstanding for the first few months of the campaign under the Portuguese and would make an excellent partner for Gueye. Another option is Leicester City's Wilfried Ndidi, although the Nigeria international might cost too much following such a strong debut campaign in the Midlands.
Everton are also short of centre-backs. Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka are clearly past their best and yet featured in 49 league matches between them in 2017/18. New signings must be confident in possession and quick, ensuring they can play in a high line (hence why Williams and Jagielka cannot be trusted). Alfie Mawson would be a good, and cheap, addition.
2) Trust in the younger players
Everton don't just produce technically talented young players, they produce intelligent ones. Silva's tactics are complex, requiring footballers with good decision-making and a strong reading of the game. The likes of Mason Holgate, Calvert-Lewin, and Beni Baningime should be trusted with more game time in 2018/19, not least because aggressive pressing football requires the sort of confidence that tends to flow in young players.
Nobody in the Everton squad will be more confident right now than Ademola Lookman, who has impressed during a six-month loan spell at RB Leipzig, scoring five Bundesliga goals and grabbing three assists in just seven starts. Silva will love Lookman; he makes clever runs and likes to cut infield, making him the perfect Richarlison-esque inside forward.
3) Sign a striker
Wayne Rooney looks to be on his way out of the club and Cenk Tosun is the sort of lumbering target man only someone like Big Sam would want up front, so Silva needs to spend big on a dynamic striker. The dream option is AC Milan's Andre Silva, who is one of the most exciting young players in Europe but could be moved on this summer after a disappointing debut campaign in Italy.
Other intriguing options include Kasper Dolberg and Celtic's Moussa Dembele, although neither of these players would likely hit 20 league goals in their first season. Finding a replacement for Romelu Lukaku certainly won't be easy, but if Silva can do it he will be in charge of a squad capable of challenging for a top six finish.