Cast your mind back to January 2017, the date was the 5th, and Marco Silva had been carefully selected as the man to attempt to halt Hull City’s freefall, and try to prevent the tigers from dropping back into the Championship on the first time of asking.
Vice-chairman, Ehab Allam, said: “He has a great track record and we feel this is a bold and exciting appointment in our aim to retain the club’s Premier League status.” Erm, a weak, useless, never-heard-of-him foreigner?! Over a steely, bold, beautiful, British manager! Are you actually mad!?
Pundits laid into Hull’s ownership, cutting down the appointment with Ric Flair like chops. Infamously, paid footballing expert Paul Merson said: “I could have won the league with Olympiakos. What’s he know about the Premier League? What’s he know?”
Fellow fountain of knowledge and acceptance Phil Thompson added: “It’s astonishing that they have plumped foe someone like this, when there are a lot of people who know about the Premier League. He’s not got a clue. It’s a slap in the face for British coaches.”
So without a training session under his belt, or a football being kicked, Silva was written off; destined to be just another forgotten footnote in the history of the legendary Barclays.
Giving Hull hope
Not to be deterred by being informed he wasn’t even fit to scrub the boots of British gargantuans such as Sammy Lee, Paul Ince and Gary Megson, Silva quickly set about proving his worth.
Game 1. Swansea. FA Cup. 2-0 win. Shove that up your bollocks. Game 2. Bournemouth. Prem. 3-1 win. Shove that up your bollocks some more. Hull were on fire; in the first four league games Silva won two, drew one and lost one. Falling only to eventual champions Chelsea, Hull held Manchester United to a 0-0 draw and fantastically dropped Liverpool with a 2-0 victory.
Silva would continue to lead his tigers to Premier League points, but sadly for him and the squad, the impossible task of survival ended up being just that.
Whilst Marco Silva was throwing bangs up north, Paul Clement was cooking up a storm in Wales – dragging Swansea from the mire, meaning Hull finished in 18th place and were subject to Championship purgatory once again.
So were the pundits correct? After all, Silva didn’t manage to keep Hull in the top flight… Well, no, they weren’t.
Relegated or not, Silva has his paper-thin squad performing massively above the level expected of them. Defensively they were much more organised, they passed the ball pretty well and many players deemed surplus to requirements elsewhere shone brightly in the black and amber shirts.
Lazar Markovic showed his pace and crossing ability, Andrea Ranocchia proved he could actually defend and Oumar Niasse rose from the ashes of Ronald Koeman’s fire pit to display some quality frontman performances.
Silva had turned the pundits around and his stock had certainly risen in the managerial market. So following Hull City’s return to the second tier Marco resigned in search of greener pastures.
After interest form a whole host of big name clubs including Porto, Crystal Palace and Southampton, Silva landed in pastures yellow as Watford won the inaugural Marco Silva managerial lottery.
Watford fly out of the blocks
In conjunction with the exciting arrival of Marco Silva, the Pozzo’s unleashed their war chest on fresh talent. Andre Gray joined for a club record fee from Burnley and tricky young Brazilian winger Richarlison came in for around £11 million. Tom Cleverley made his loan from Everton (lots more on them later) into a permanent deal whilst Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah – both highly rated central midfielders – found their new nest with the hornets.
Watford’s squad and new manager gelled together like the five pieces of Exodia. Epitomised by the unbelievable form of Abdoulaye Doucouré, Marco’s merry men were playing sensational swashbuckling soccer, scoring plenty of goals and giving Richarlison room to shine in a semi-free role.
In the first 8 games, Watford lost just once (a 6-0 anomaly against the freight train that is Manchester City) and after brushing aside an Arsenal team lacking in ‘cojones’ Silva had carried his team to an impressive 4th position with his tactical nous soaking up the plaudits.
Watford would lose their next three games before quickly remounting their steed of victory with another to wins on the spin. Since then though, things have gone down faster than Ashley Young approaching the box. From a possible 33 points, they’ve picked up a frankly piss poor 5. That’s two draws and one win in eleven fixtures.
How did it all go so wrong?
Funny how quick the milk turns sour, isn’t it. Not only has the wheel come off, its somehow set the entire bus on fire, which has in turn fell into a ditch, with little chance of getting assistance anytime soon.
On the field a couple of things have reared their ugly head. The first of which, is injuries. Just for reference, at the time of writing they have 12 people in the physios room, which doesn’t account for the fact they’ve had many key players out at different points. Chalobah and Hughes seem to be the worst of the bunch as they were hitting great form and were playing pivotal roles for Silva’s side.
Due to injuries, other players began to look leggy, mostly notably Richarlison, who whilst still producing some magic moments, wasn’t firing on all cylinders anymore. However, from a tactical standpoint, Silva refused to shake things up. Like a stubborn child he persisted with the same tactics, coming up second best again and again.
His football manager save file had corrupted beyond salvation, and with it, his luck had extinguished too. But it wasn’t just on field incidents which triggered this change in fortune. Silva’ head had been turned by Everton and all roads appear to show this was the real reason for Watford’s untimely demise.
The Everton, Silva and Watford love triangle
On October 23rd, Everton sacked Ronald Koeman after getting absolutely banged by Arsenal. Straight away, Silva’s name was being whispered as an ideal man to change Everton’s fortunes from sour to sweet.
Everton’s board pissed around for a while before finally making an official approach for Silva on November 14th. They offered £8.5 million for Silva, but not I said the Watford, and the deal was rejected. A day later, they came back with £10 million but the Pozzo’s still would not budge.
Finally, the blues came in with a simply staggering £20 million offer for Marco, but Watford loved their man, and their man loved Watford (or so they thought). The final deal was turned down and it felt like the matter would be put to rest, especially once Big Sam had found himself a comfy new chair at Goodison.
Interestingly though, Silva never talked down a move to the Ev, and in hindsight, it looks like he was dying to switch club. As mentioned, results never re-established themselves after this saga and now that the dust has settled, this was almost certainly the key factor in Silva and Watford ending their relationship.
End of a very short era
On January 21st, Watford sacked Marco Silva. Given how hard they longed to keep him on board when Everton came calling the announcement was certainly a shock to many fans, even with the poor run of form. Some could perhaps argue that he was a victim of his own ambition, but more so, he was a victim of his own unprofessionalism.
Watford are a little different to other clubs in their management structure but they are definitely ran well. Credit should be granted to them for assuring their dignity and professionalism remained intact in regards to this sacking, as they released a very honest and interesting statement.
They wrote that an: “unwarranted approach by a Premier League rival” caused a large deterioration in both results and focus behind the scenes to the point where the club’s future could be jeopardised.
Based upon the letter it seems that the only choice, was to let Marco Silva go. Watford do not deserve ridicule for this. Yes, they could have taken the big bucks from Everton and instead they are paying Silva out of his contract but they believed he was going to be a fantastic new leader, ideal for project hornet, and had little reason to believe any different.
Where do we go from here?
Marco leaves Watford in disastrous form and 10th place in the league, though they are only 4 points clear of Southampton, who sit in the relegation zone. Watford already have a new man, Javi Gracia, how will he do? Only time will tell.
As for Silva, his reputation is certainly a bit lower than It was 3 months ago as he’s acted without professionalism and has been completely unable to arrest the harsh slide in by his former Watford side.
I don’t think the Premier League has seen the back of him though – unprofessional or not, his peaks will carry him to another top flight role, with Southampton being a possibility as Pellegrino’s days look numbered.
He may have only been prominent in England for 12 months but Silva has firmly stamped his mark on the league and we should be sure to keep a sharp eye on what play he makes next, because we surely haven’t seen the latest of mighty Marco Silva.