Risky business: Marco Silva is treading thin ice by ousting Everton’s old guard

It’s what we all do whenever we start a new save on Football Manager or FIFA: phase out the old guard, the washed up players who are only going to get worse from here on in, and sign a whole host of exciting youngsters with room for growth.

However, in the real world, to do that would be the equivalent of playing with fire.

These so-called ‘washed up players’ are the ones who know the ins and outs of the football club. The ones who set the standards in the dressing room and out on the pitch. The ones who know everyone from the manager down to the tea lady and receptionist.

At Everton, icons such as Tim Cahill, Leon Osman, Marouane Fellaini, Steven Pienaar, Phil Neville and others set the tone under David Moyes for years, but only a few of Moyes’ boys remain.

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Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines. Players who have amassed a combined 1,081 appearances in the blue of Everton are all that remain from the old guard under current boss Marco Silva, a man who is looking to give the club a new, fresh identity.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Silva is certainly right to phase these players out of the first-team, for they are not up to the standard of years gone by.

However, the Portuguese boss has to be delicate in the way that he handles performing such a task.

These guys are the ones who can turn an entire dressing room against the man in charge. We’ve seen it happen to another Portuguese manager in Andre Villas-Boas, a man who boldly tried to extract the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Ashley Cole from the Chelsea team – the once highly-rated coach is now a rookie rally racer.

If anything, that just goes to show how sensitive you must be when dealing with the alphas at a football club.

Of course, the manager is the main man. He is the one who has to demand respect, call the shots and make the decisions. But there is only one of him, and over 20 players.

In fairness, at least Silva has found capable replacements for these players such as the impressive Lucas Digne and Yerry Mina, both of whom have shown signs that they can be long-term replacements for Jagielka and Baines – Coleman is still featuring quite regularly, but his performances have noticeably slipped in quality and a new right-back could potentially be on the horizon.

This could, in fact, be the biggest challenge of Silva’s career.

The former Olympiakos manager has been in charge of six clubs across a managerial career spanning just seven years, and he needs to get this delicate procedure right if he is to better his stay of three years at Estoril – his personal best for longest time spent at one club.

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