Watford fired manager Marco Silva on Sunday, blaming Everton’s recruitment of the Portuguese boss for his failure, and it seems his replacement has already been identified as Javi Gracia.
I mean, holy smoke: So much for “easy like Sunday morning.”
The Hornets have been poor for some time, and their drop from chasing an unlikely European position to a spot on the fringes of the relegation race does stretch back to time Everton was repeatedly asking to hire Silva.
Funny thing: Perhaps letting him walk would’ve been the right decision.
What Silva did in the first quarter of this season and his lauded attempt to save Hull City last season may recall his overachievement at Estoril in Portugal, but the 40-year-old worked wonders at league powers Sporting CP and Olympiacos.
In the case of the latter, Silva led Thrylos to an absurd record of 38W-3D-7L before quitting after one season.
There’s another piece of the puzzle to consider, too: Watford under owner Gino Pozzo has been quick to change manager, which is a sign the club values — to quote longtime Buffalo basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon — “Jims and Joes more than x’s and o’s.”
As Sam Allardyce, the man who was hired by Everton, has joined Ronald Koeman as bosses unable to get the Toffees’ talented roster humming, it’s worth asking whether both Watford and Everton would’ve been better off had the Silva “transfer” went down at Goodison Park.
Watford has eight losses in 11 matches, handing three points to a variety of teams who’ve struggled to find wins this season: Swansea City, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Huddersfield Town. The Hornets have also drawn Southampton.
Everton under both Koeman and Allardyce has done the opposite: the Toffees have too much talent to religiously fail against the lower clubs. This season, which also saw a short run for caretaker boss David Unsworth, their wins are over Stoke City, Bournemouth, Watford, West Ham, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle and Swansea.
The Toffees big slump has seen a pair of draws with woeful West Bromwich Albion and a loss at Bournemouth.
Which brings us back to Watford under Silva. Despite its long slump, the club is performing in a way more suited for Everton’s talent than the Hornets’ bunch (which certainly isn’t poor). Consider:
Consider that Watford has 49.5 percent possession on the season, behind only Man City, Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Southampton (Everton has 46.4 and that number has regressed under Allardyce).
Also, Watford is ahead of Everton in pass completion percentage, shots per game, goals, shots allowed per game, and dribbles per game.
All this with the Toffees getting some of the finest goalkeeper performances in the league from Jordan Pickford. His 81 saves are second to Lukasz Fabianski and his seven in the six-yard box are joint-top with Mat Ryan.
So, yeah, Everton probably had the right idea in trying to get Silva, who was obviously interested in the job. The Toffees’ buys of Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott are only going to up the ante at Goodison Park, and Allardyce does not have the record of getting talent to reach its potential (at least not in a decade).
Everton’s top performers this year according to advanced stats sites WhoScored and Squawka are ranked 82nd in the Premier League (Mason Holgate) and 103rd in the league (Ashley Williams), respectively.
All this goes to not just say that Silva has done a decent job at Watford, but beg why they’ve decided to fire the boss midway through a transfer window. And considering the Hornets would’ve received compensation of some sort for the move, it’s even more of a head scratcher