Two weeks is a long-time in football, especially if you are Marco Silva.
The Everton boss watched on as they fell to a fourth defeat in a row at Turf Moor on Saturday afternoon, falling to 18th in the Premier League table with the international break now upon us.
Toffees supporters are becoming less patient with their Portuguese boss, and drastic changes are needed if their opinions are to be changed.
Much has been made of Everton’s weakness when defending set-pieces, and it now seems that every opposing manager is using dead ball situations to plot their downfall. The only coach turning a blind eye to this issue looks to be Silva, as Burnley made them pay from a corner.
Excluding penalties, the Toffees have conceded 22 times from set-pieces in 2019, more than any other Premier League club. If that wasn’t warning enough, a smart save from Jordan Pickford in the first-half denied Jeff Hendricks, after he had ghosted in at the back post unmarked.
On 72 minutes a carbon copy of a chance presented itself, and nothing could stop the Burnley man from firing into the roof of the net. Not even Michael Keane, who spotted the run and pointed out Hendricks, but stayed rooted to the spot due to the zonal marking strategy deployed by Everton.
There’s no chance for Silva and his players to bounce back straight away, as the international break will instead see him spend the next two weeks nervously looking over his shoulder should those in power decide to opt for a change in management.
The Toffees couldn’t be blamed for using this reprieve from Premier League action as an opportunity to replace Silva, as 2019 has been a year to forget for the club so far. Away from home they are yet to win this season, and in the calendar year they have won away from Goodison Park on just five occasions, racking up a mere 20 points.
While their poor win ratio could be attributed to their woeful set piece defending, at the other end of the field there’s also another huge issue that presents itself. In 2019, Everton have scored just 29 goals, and of the 17 teams that have spent the whole of the current year in the top flight, only Brighton have found the net on less occasions.
The summer signing of Moise Kean filled Blues fans with hope that they had finally managed to fill the void left by Romelu Lukaku, however opportunities have been few and far between for the youngster. Of a possible 720 minutes, the striker has just 284 under his belt in the league so far and is still without a goal.
Given the £27.5m spent on the 19-year-old, Everton fans had expected to see him in action on a more regular basis. Kean’s lack of game time could have been accepted had his replacements been firing home left, right and centre, however Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have played significantly more minutes and scored just two goals each.
Silva spent over £100m on key areas of improvement in the Everton squad over the summer, with all avenues pointing towards a push for the top six and a return to European competition.
With Manchester United still coming to grips with their fall from grace, Arsenal suffering financially from their failure to qualify for the Champions League and Chelsea left with a youthful squad due to their transfer ban, it looked like a perfect opportunity for the Blues. An opening had presented itself to the clubs looking to challenge the ‘Big 6’, and Everton looked best equipped to force their way through.
Throwing money at their squad hasn’t done the job though, and the resurgence of Leicester City along with strong starts to the year by teams such as Bournemouth, Burnley and Crystal Palace have left Silva’s side well off the pace already.
There are growing concerns over the Everton boss and his ability to get the best out of his team, with issues presenting themselves both in defence and attack. Despite a number of warning signs, there seems to be no urgency from the Portuguese coach to change his ways and opt for ‘Plan B’.
Whether he has no alternative or is determined to persevere is yet to be seen, however it is apparent that time is running out for Silva and his time remaining at Goodison could be limited.
Everton are at a crucial crossroads in their season, despite it being just eight games old, and what happens in the next two weeks could play a pivotal role in shaping their campaign.
The international break could work in Silva’s favour as it gives him time to implement changes that could spark a revival, or it could spell the end for him at the Toffees if they take this time to search for a successor. His chances of being given an opportunity to make those changes rely on whether he is willing to change tact, although this season so far has proven that he seems to be stuck in his ways.