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Monday, 08 March 2021

Marco Silva on shaky ground again at Everton

AP , Monday 7 Oct 2019
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Views: 589

The second international break of the Premier League campaign is a chance for clubs to take stock of the season, assess what is going right or wrong after the opening eight matches.

The early-season review will not make good reading for Marco Silva.

The Everton manager's position is once again under scrutiny with his team slipping into the relegation zone over the weekend despite another offseason of heavy spending _ this time around $120 million _ and having played only one opponent so far that finished in the top six last season.

Sections of Everton's travelling fans jeered Silva after the 1-0 loss to Burnley on Saturday, which marked a fourth straight defeat in the Premier League _ the team's worst run of form since the middle of the 2014-15 season.

Only two teams _ Watford and Newcastle _ have scored fewer goals than Everton's six. Only four teams have conceded more than Everton's 13.

``Mentally it's very tough,'' Everton midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson said. ``It's not easy to be in this position but I think we can learn from last year _ we were in a tough position and we managed to get ourselves out of it.''

Indeed, Silva faced similar criticism halfway through last season _ the Portuguese coach's first at Everton _ after a four-month period when the team won five of 18 matches in the league and was eliminated by third-tier club Millwall in the FA Cup.

Silva's players reacted by winning five of their last eight games and only conceding in two of them, giving Everton an eighth-place finish and providing some optimism for the start of this season. Yet one crucial factor has changed.

The offseason departure of holding midfielder Idrissa Gueye to Paris Saint-Germain has robbed the defense of its biggest protector, with his strong performances for PSG so far highlighting exactly what Everton is missing. Everton also had a solid partnership at center back between Kurt Zouma and Michael Keane toward the end of last season, but that was broken up when Zouma returned to Chelsea from his loan spell.

Everton hasn't kept a clean sheet in its last six league games.

The team doesn't look too potent going forward, either, with high-profile offseason signing from Juventus _ Moise Kean _ not yet breaking into the team. Three of Everton's six goals came in one match, a 3-2 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Everton's ambitious majority shareholder, Farad Moshiri, targeted Silva as the man to bring success to a club without a trophy since 1995, showing so much interest in him while Silva was manager of Watford in the 2017-18 season that he became unsettled and eventually was fired by the Premier League team.

Under Silva, Everton has spent about $250 million, but where has it got the team? Moshiri has already gotten rid of three managers _ Roberto Martinez, Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce _ in his 3 1/2 years at Everton, so Silva is on shaky ground.

Especially when there's time for introspection during an international break.

Ozil absent

Mesut Ozil wasn't deemed good enough to start in Arsenal's largely second-string side for a Europa League match last week, so he was never really going to get a recall in the Premier League over the weekend.

It is now three straight games where Ozil hasn't even made it into the matchday squad under Arsenal manager Unai Emery. The latest snub came Sunday, when Arsenal beat Bournemouth 1-0 to climb to third place.

Ozil, reportedly Arsenal's highest earner, has played in only two of Arsenal's 11 games this season _ in the league against Watford and the League Cup against Nottingham Forest. He was substituted in the 71st minute both times.

``When I decided he shouldn't be in the squad, it's because I think other players deserved it more,'' Emery said last week after the former Germany international was overlooked for the Europa League win over Standard Liege.

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