As Marco Silva’s name once more fills up column inches in connection with the vacancy at Everton, there’s a growing feeling he will be given a chance to manage at a higher level before too much longer.
It’s been only six years since he took his first managerial role and guided Estoril into the Portuguese Primeira Liga as champions at the first time of asking.
Since then he’s claimed the current European record for consecutive domestic wins in the 21st century (17 games with Olympiacos) and even walked away from a Premiership relegation with an enhanced reputation.
The only blemish on his record was the sacking from Sporting Lisbon for not following the club’s protocol and wearing a club suit for a cup match but, then again, nobody’s perfect.
But could this 40-year-old manager really be ready to take control of a club with title and Champions League ambitions?
The Case For:
Investing in the future
One common trait Silva shares with Arsenal Football Club is a belief in the importance of young aspiring talent.
Not only has he bought youngsters into Watford’s first team this summer, he also appears set to give them a chance to prove themselves. With Richarlison (20) and Nathaniel Chalobah (22) both made central to his plans at the start of this season, Will Hughes (22) was also given minutes on the pitch in Watford’s last league game.
With Silva yet to work at a club which offers a youth system as rich as that of Arsenal, it would appear to be a resource he would be quick to utilise.
Silva is very much a modern-style coach, believing in the intelligence and mental aptitude his players require to compete as much as the technical and physical abilities they possess.
A meticulous planner of games, Silva pays careful attention to every finite detail involved, much like Arsenal’s current manager who was duly nicknamed as the Professor when he arrived on these shores.
But while organisation is a fundamental requirement, posing an offensive threat is equally important. With emphasis placed on aggressive pressing and pacey players to open up his opponents, Silva knows fine well that games are only ever won through scoring goals.
There are still plenty of the traditionally-perceived basic qualities which Silva demands from his team which underpin his philosophies.
Watford’s players have covered an accumulative total of 1241km in the league this season, the 4th highest distance in the league and more than that of Manchester City, Chelsea and indeed Arsenal.
This is a huge leap from the team’s 17th placed ranking of last season and is more than 5km extra per game on average.
The Case Against:
Beyond the obvious lack of experience in managing huge stars at a major European side, Silva has potentially other weaknesses which could undermine his suitability.
His belief in playing an expansive form of the game have left his sides vulnerable, something which Manchester City ruthlessly exploited in mid-September. Having conceded 21 goals in the first 11 league games, this is only two fewer than West Ham who currently lead the way in the art of not defending.
There’s a very real fear that this element of his management needs further improvements before he can be considered for a top position.
Too many similarities
With similar beliefs in how to play the game and similar defensive lapses and inconsistencies to Wenger’s approach, there may not be enough differences to bring about the required changes needed to rectify Arsenal’s current problems.
A time for change in manager is the perfect time to address the failings of a squad and, in appointing a newer version of the same blueprint, it could be considered a wasted opportunity.
A Perfect Match?
Whoever the Arsenal board opt for when the time comes and wherever public opinion lands as Wenger takes his leave, it’s going to require an incredibly strong character to follow in the footsteps of someone has managed the club for such a long period and with so much relative success during these decades.
Silva may be quietly spoken and unassuming to look at but he possesses a huge amount of confidence and self-belief, characteristics that will prove invaluable when he steps up to the next level of his career.
The speed with which Silva has made an impression on the two teams he’s managed in the Premiership is not just impressive, it’s also highly unusual. To make a sea-change in a clubs mentality and attitude on the pitch so quickly hints that he commands the respect of players around him subconsciously and makes them buy his ideas. This itself suggests he’s more than ready to take over at a club larger than those he’s previously managed.
Furthermore, if there’s one thing we know about Marco Silva, it’s that he’s a quick learner. Taking on an established club after such a powerful figure as Wenger is surely going to lead to mistakes and problems along the way and this could easily spell doom for an experienced, more stubborn personality.
Silva has already shown he should at least be considered for the role. If he can keep Watford pushing for a European spot towards the end of this season, few could deny him the chance to succeed Wenger.
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