I can’t say the appointment of Marco Silva did very much to excite me in the run up to the start of the new season. Being fairly indifferent as to whether Scott Parker stayed or went, it didn’t feel like a natural step up or a desperately needed change in direction as it did when Slavisa Jokanovic took charge. Reluctantly though we always end up supporting the man in the dugout, no matter how many times your Watford supporting friends warn you of his snake like qualities and general lack of allegiance.
When appointing a manager in the Championship especially as a side favourite for promotion you need someone with longevity, someone not limited to being good enough to get you up but also capable of implementing a long term strategy aimed at ending this horrendous yo-yo life cycle we find ourselves stuck in. Questions around his loyalty definitely have to be factored in when considering his suitability for the club in its present state and our need for stability. At the same time if he were to stick around he isn’t necessarily a manager naturally out of his depth in the Premier League albeit with a lot to prove.
When we were last promoted Parker was an unknown quantity and evidently fell into the bracket of being not quite good enough to transition the divisions. At the very least Marco Silva does feel like a name who few other clubs could have attracted to even consider taking a role in the Championship. He was a welcome addition to the regular names that feature on the managerial merry go round at this level. Seeing a shortlist with the likes of Pardew, Lampard, Allardyce and God forbid John Terry is enough to scare any of us into thinking Silva is a pretty decent option.
On the other hand the illusion of Marco Silva does not perhaps align with the reality of Marco Silva. Upon informing friends and colleagues of our newly appointed gaffer I have been told that they know him as “the man who got Watford promoted” or “the man who kept Hull up” both of which of course are completely inaccurate and untrue but go a long way to showing what some good PR and friends in the press can do for your image. I want to be more positive but it’s hard to buy into someone based on a good 10 game spell at Watford and a few battling performances with a poor Hull team that ultimately wasn’t enough to beat the drop.
It certainly seems like the feedback from previous players having worked under Silva are positive which is an encouraging sign. He has essentially adopted a squad that on the face of it even in its current state should be good enough to get out of the division so his man management skills will be best measured by his abilities to keep the likes of Mitrovic, Reed and Tosin engaged in the project and playing for him week in week out. Whether or not he is able to get a tune out of some of our more inconsistent performers and forgotten men of the club will be another indicator.
One of the more positive aspects of having appointed Silva for me is the fact he had previously transitioned from a director of football role into a managerial position during his time at Estoril and in turn may be a more experienced pair of hands than Parker or even Jokanovic in dealing with the internal bullshit and transfer policy that seems to have dogged our club throughout the Khan era. You would at least hope that a man who knows that side of a football club would have probed Fulham on that aspect of the role prior to accepting the position in the first place.
What is for sure is that after three attempts at managing in England, Fulham has to be the last chance saloon (in this country at least) for Silva who has promised so much and delivered very little. It certainly feels like he has something to prove and we can only hope that he is the right man at the right time. I will freely hold my hands up and say I was completely unimpressed when we appointed Roy Hodgson back in 2007, another manager who had something to prove on these shores at the time so who’s to say how this one will pan out.
Expectations have to be high from the start though as we simply cannot afford to be unsuccessful this season. While Parker was given time to build and we forgave him for his inexperience, Silva needs to hit the ground running which is why it is certainly encouraging to see some transfer activity happen now rather than the obligatory deadline day scramble we have been used to of late. The old adage goes that a manager needs previous experience of the Championship to be successful but Silva only has to look as far as his fellow countryman Nuno Espirito Santo at Wolves in 2017 to see that with a good squad that buys into your style of play anything is possible.
As the start of the campaign looms I am fully prepared to leave my scepticism at the turnstiles and blindly follow this man into battle. COYW!