This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Marco Silva’s departure from Everton on Thursday evening instigated a post-mortem in the British media which aimed to unpick a resoundingly unsuccessful stint at the club.
It was a decision that felt like a long time coming for the Portuguese manager. After the 2-0 home defeat against Norwich City it became clear that he was on the brink of the exit door and destined to followed Mauricio Pochettino, Unai Emery and Quique Sanchez Flores into unemployment in a fatal fortnight of Premier League sackings.
And the humbling 5-2 defeat against Liverpool on Wednesday left no room for doubt over what was destined to follow.
But the seeds for failure were arguably planted in the summer window. Marcel Brands, an intriguing behind-the-scenes figure who has commanded relative popularity since joining the club from PSV Eindhoven, offered little by way of innovation in the market.
The policy employed was akin to most budding football manager experts: target players available from elite clubs and bring them in at scale. In came Alex Iwobi, Andre Gomes, Fabian Delph and Moise Kean from some of biggest clubs in world football, while Jean Phillipe-Gbamin was seemingly brought in to succeed Idrissa Gueye.
Five signings with clear potential to be hugely successful on Merseyside yet Brands neglected Silva’s priority. According to Guardian journalist Andy Hunter, Silva was let down by the club’s director of football in the summer.
“The failure to replace the on-loan Kurt Zouma in central defence also hindered Silva, who had wanted the Chelsea player’s signing to be a priority, while Brands led the £29m signing of 19-year-old striker Moise Kean from Juventus when the manager wanted a more experienced forward.”
There are factors well within Silva’s control that he must be held accountable for, but equally Brands’ failures must be placed under the spotlight and used to explain Everton’s dismal regression this season.
The Dutchman’s neglect of the club’s vital need to strengthen in central defence, leaving Silva with just Yerry Mina, Mason Holgate and Michael Keane to choose from, has been one of the biggest failings of the club’s hierarchy.
That particular blunder was laid bare in the Merseyside derby as Liverpool ran riot and unpicked a defensive unit that was hopelessly devoid of anything resembling cohesion or leadership.
The hosts were unrelenting and epitomised by cutting-edge precision, moving through space like fully trained assassins dressed in black and masked in balaclavas, barely hesitating as they unleashed one fatal blow after another. How they could have done with Zouma, who was linked with a summer return, to stop the onslaught.
Not only did Brands fail to meet Silva’s wholly legitimate request to land the £22.5m-rated Chelsea man, per Transfermarkt, his untameable desire to sign anyone and everyone from Europe’s top clubs – as if signing all those players deemed surplus to requirements at Barcelona and Juventus will somehow enable the Toffees to transcend onto the same level – saw him secure a striker in Kean who clearly has so much to learn at this level.
The 42-year-old leaves Goodison needing to reconstruct a battered reputation, but there is no doubt that Brands let down the manager in the transfer market and has made his own contribution to this torrid mess Everton find themselves in ahead of a daunting Christmas period.
It’s certainly not the last time a director of football will hang the manager out to dry. It’s never them that gets the sack anyway.