|Why Fulham turned to Marco Silva – a coach who still has a point to prove 21:18 - Jul 21 with 431 views||Rock|
Why Fulham turned to Marco Silva – a coach who still has a point to prove
Peter Rutzler and more
Marco Silva is back in English football.
His task? To return Fulham to the Premier League and draw a line under the Scott Parker era.
Silva’s appointment has restored some much-needed optimism at Craven Cottage — helped by the return of club legend Luis Boa Morte as his assistant — after an uncomfortable few weeks.
Parker’s exit, confirmed on Monday, threw a curveball at the club’s pre-season planning. The coach they wanted to lead them to a third Premier League promotion in five seasons was evidently not committed to the cause and more than that, the process of cutting ties proved long and arduous. Talk of mutual termination with two years left on Parker’s contract and a known destination only complicated matters further, before Championship rivals Bournemouth ultimately agreed compensation.
Parker officially left on the day the squad returned for pre-season. With no manager in place, first-team coach Stuart Gray oversaw proceedings, supported by under-23s coaches Mark Pembridge and Colin Omogbehin.
The whole saga appeared to leave the west London club playing catch-up. Unsurprisingly, there were no warm words from chairman Shahid Khan for the departing Parker. “Scott’s departure does nothing to shake my confidence, however,” Khan said. “We will hire a new head coach who is capable of achieving our goal of promotion and will be committed to Fulham and its supporters.”
Fulham needed a replacement who could lift a gloom that has followed a second top-flight relegation in three years and Parker’s unceremonious departure. And quickly.
Luis Boa Morte, left, will assist Silva at Fulham – just like he did at Everton
It was decided early on that Silva was the man for the job.
It’s understood that once it became clear there were overtures from Bournemouth for Parker — as The Athletic has documented — Fulham began planning for the possibility that he would decide to leave. Silva had been previously identified during the club’s ongoing due diligence and was seen as an excellent fit by sporting director Tony Khan and the Fulham recruitment team, particularly with regards to his playing style and personal ambition.
Outwardly, Silva was not initially seen as one of the favourites for the job, with Swansea City’s Steve Cooper and former Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder considered among the frontrunners.
It is understood that Cooper and Wilder were both under serious consideration. So too was long-time Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, but he made it clear he was not interested in the role. Multiple plates were spinning but Fulham’s prime target behind the scenes was Silva, a coach to underline the ownership’s promotion ambition.
Discussions with Silva were kept under wraps during what was a secretive recruitment process for the Portuguese coach. There was a determination to keep his name out of the media in case talks did not reach a positive conclusion. Shahid Khan met with Silva in Portugal last week and was impressed by his eye for detail and knowledge of the squad.
“Marco came prepared, with a full understanding of the players we have and ideas on how we can move forward this season,” said Shahid Khan in a statement announcing Silva’s appointment. “I loved his energy and optimism, and I’m confident Marco Silva is the right choice.”
Silva was the only coach spoken to by Shahid Khan. Coupled with excellent references from previous clubs, executives and players alike, who are said to have spoken highly of his professionalism and the man personally, it was decided he would be the coach entrusted with leading Fulham’s attempted promotion campaign.
Silva was also contacted by top-flight Crystal Palace, but they decided to go in a different direction and have since agreed terms with Arsenal great and former New York City and Nice manager Patrick Vieira.
Former Hull City, Watford and Everton manager Silva was reportedly also offered positions at Turkish side Fenerbahce and Russia’s CSKA Moscow. He turned those down for Fulham. A provisional agreement was reached on Wednesday and he was formally announced as Fulham’s new coach a day later.
Silva has signed a three-year contract and it’s understood he will bring with him the men who comprised his coaching staff at Everton: Bruno Mendes as head of performance, Goncalo Pedro as first-team coach, Hugo Oliveira as goalkeeper coach and Antonis Lemonakis as first-team analyst. And in a move that will undoubtedly excite supporters, Boa Morte, the former winger who was a hero of the club’s 2000-01 Premier League promotion season and spent over six years with the club as a player and later coach, also returns to Craven Cottage as Silva’s No 2. “Wherever Silva goes, Boa Morte goes,” said a source close to the new head coach.
For the club, the appeal of bringing back a well-loved figure who knows the club and its values was a bonus to Silva’s appointment.
Silva was set to arrive in the UK from Portugal on Thursday and will need to serve a quarantine period before setting foot at Motspur Park.
Portugal is on the UK government’s amber list, meaning he would be required to isolate for 10 days. However, he is expected to take a PCR COVID-19 test on day five and should that return a negative result, he would be able to end his quarantine through the “test and release” scheme. Gray will likely continue to oversee pre-season, while Silva will do some work remotely.
Fulham will now want to turn the page on the Parker era. There was a willingness to make a statement after the new Bournemouth coach’s unhappy exit and, in Silva, they feel they have secured a Premier League manager.
In an interview last year with The Athletic, Silva outlined that his best days were still ahead of him, saying: “My aim is to keep working in the top five leagues in Europe. The Premier League is a clear target for me and Spain, Germany, Italy and France.”
It has long been felt that Silva would not return to English football to manage in the second tier. He was once considered by Nottingham Forest, who are owned by Evangelos Marinakis, whom he worked under at Olympiakos in 2015-16, but they thought that it would not be possible to recruit him when they were a Championship club. However, Fulham’s proposal evidently proved persuasive.
In Silva, Fulham now have a coach who prefers a more attacking brand of football, which would directly address one of Parker’s criticisms as head coach: his more conservative style of play. Fulham struggled for goals last season, with a league-worst nine scored in their 19 home league games. It is hoped Silva can address that with his preference for a fluid 4-3-3 system built on incisive wingers, high full-backs offering width and hard-working midfielders.
Silva is a coach with a point to prove in England, yet also one who has been aggressively headhunted on more than one occasion. He first won plaudits here for turning around a sinking Hull City ship after joining halfway through the 2016-17 season. Although he was ultimately unable to keep them in the top flight, he did enough to entice Watford to appoint him. He started superbly at Vicarage Road, lifting the team into the top four after eight games and staying as high as eighth until early December.
Interest from Everton turned his head and he was ultimately sacked in January 2018 with form stagnating. Watford blamed Everton’s “unwarranted approach” for him that season as the “catalyst” for their decision.
He joined Everton that summer and his only full season in charge saw the Merseysiders finish eighth, two places higher but five points worse off than they later managed in high-profile successor Carlo Ancelotti’s only complete campaign. Form took a turn for the worst the following season and Everton were in the relegation zone when he was sacked in December 2019.
He has a strong track record before his time in England and although he has no Championship experience, he has won promotion before, leading Portuguese side Estoril up from the second tier in 2011-12, then helping them qualify for the Europa League a season later. Silva was then headhunted by Estoril’s big-city neighbours Sporting Lisbon, where he won the Taca de Portugal (Portuguese Cup) in 2015-16 before moving on and taking the Greek title in his only season (2016-17) with Olympiakos.
There is no denying, though, that Silva’s aura has faded a little and he needs to demonstrate his credentials to quell the questions marks that hang over him in England. He has not stayed at one club for more than one full season since his first job with Estoril a decade ago and what he can bring to a club over a longer period of time is something of an unknown.
But this is something that Silva will surely be determined to showcase at Fulham. At 43, he is still a young coach and he has inherited a squad he can work with effectively at Craven Cottage.
He and Fulham will hope they are a match made for promotion.
|Why Fulham turned to Marco Silva – a coach who still has a point to prove on 21:42 - Jul 21 with 382 views||pencoedjack|
Didn’t read all that but I think Fulham could have done far better.
He’s an awful manager.
|Why Fulham turned to Marco Silva – a coach who still has a point to prove on 04:37 - Jul 22 with 293 views||Rock|
|Why Fulham turned to Marco Silva – a coach who still has a point to prove on 21:42 - Jul 21 by pencoedjack|
Didn’t read all that but I think Fulham could have done far better.
He’s an awful manager.
I would give it a read if you got a little spare time, very well-written article. Time is of the essence, however, so spend it with the kids instead if you have the chance.
Personally, I feel Silva is a good manager, particularly on the attacking end, but probably not meant for the upper tier of the game. I think Fulham is an appropriate club for him and his style of play.
Proof is the pudding, so we’ll see this season.
Hope we slice through the many holes that will inevitably open up in his midfield and defence when we play them.
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