There was sneering aplenty when Wolves recruited their personal super-agent to assist Premier League promotion. Now there should be admiration to accompany the envy.
No matter how curious or worthy of investigation Jorge Mendes’ influence at Molineux, Wolves have created an impressive team with smart recruitment, preserving Premier League status this season and potentially securing European qualification.
Others in the Premier League with money and high-powered contacts ought to be asking questions of themselves more than authorities when observing how the Molineux hierarchy executed their plan. Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri – a businessman with plenty of super-agents and agencies of his own on speed dial– should have more self-reflection than most after this weekend’s result.
How and why did Wolves manage to do it so much better than him?
Everton have spent more than Wolves since Moshiri moved to Goodison, yet where Nuno Espirito Santos’ side showed their class in every position to win 3-1, the hosts are bereft of quality. Regardless of how much they benefited from Everton’s mistakes, Wolves were well-balanced, confident and at ease with everything demanded of them as Ruben Neves, Raul Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker secured a comfortable victory. Everton were the opposite.
There are snippets of Goodison promise in the midfield quality of goalscorer Andre Gomes – worryingly only a loan purchase – but the lack of attacking spark and lapses in concentration at the back means performances such as this are frequent.
Now Marco Silva finds himself in the same territory as Ronald Koeman and Roberto Martinez. He arrived as a young manager of repute hearing the right noises about patience and long-term planning. Now he accepts questions are being asked about his position.
“Of course I understand that. I am not here to find excuses or whine about something, of course I understand there will be questions about me,” said Silva.
“When everything goes well, they say good things about the manager and when something is wrong it is normal as well that the manager gets pressure.
“It is a normal question when you have this type of job. For me it is something that you know happens, to be honest with you.”
Whether Silva genuinely has the tools to match Everton’s lofty ambitions is another matter.
If Moshiri sacks another coach – thus admitting he made another poor appointment – it says more about his lack of judgement and inability to get big decisions right. He did enough due diligence on Silva before selecting him. Where would he turn next? Moshiri bowed to the fans’ demand to sack Koeman only to expose his lack of forward planning by appointing the unpalatable Sam Allardyce. This does little to support the idea he has another top class manager in mind should results go badly for Silva over the next few games.
Such responsibilities have since been delegated to director of football Marcel Brands, but the Dutchman would be advised to dedicate his time finding a centre forward with strength, pace and eye for goal ahead of next season, on top of a vocal, organising presence in defence. In the short-term, another coach will walk into the training ground and encounter the same problems as Silva, not least the pitiful contribution of last January’s expensive panic buys Theo Walcott and Cenk Tosun.
Everton’s ongoing failure to deal with set-pieces – they sloppily conceded the crucial second on the stroke of half time when Jimenez was left unmarked – means Silva must accept his responsibility.
“My job is to show them clearly what they are doing, and what they are doing wrong on the pitch,” said Silva.
“To help them know why and understand why, even if you prepare and understand the plan, you are doing always the same mistakes.
“I am upset with the performance and with the result, but more with the mistakes because after you give them gifts you have to react more than we did. We are always giving our opponents many, many things.”
History might determine the Everton job is too much for Silva, but there is a debilitating trend since Moshiri arrived. For so long Everton were stable, hovering just below the top four with Spurs, often a good signing or two from challenging for a Champions League place.
Now, including David Unsworth’s caretaker stint, they are on their 5th manager in three years since Moshiri invested.
This failure is on him as much as anyone, the contrasting fortunes of Everton and Wolves further proof that in the Premier League, money only has value when escorted by wisdom.
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