Marco Silva was delighted after his cunning plan ended Fulham’s miserable run of five straight defeats at Goodison Park yesterday afternoon.

The former Everton head coach played Dan James as a false nine on his first return to the blue half of Merseyside since being sacked as Toffees boss in 2019 and the Whites wove together a wonderful display – securing a first victory at Everton in front of fans since 1969.

Silva, who rejected any suggestion that he had proven a point to the Everton hierarchy, explained that his tactical switches, which saw James’ compatriot Harry Wilson fire Fulham in front with his first league goal of the season seven minutes after half time, were a response to a succession of below-par performances.

“I was not happy with our last two performances – the way we weren’t really a threat in our attack line. We didn’t create enough, we were not aggressive enough in our attack line. I didn’t just change James, Harry Wilson [played] on the right side as well because we wanted to have a little bit more pace in behind, some different things and we had plenty of that.

We did our job, to analyse the game and to analyse Everton, we expected them to come to press really high every time, and we didn’t want to give that number nine reference for them to go and squeeze him every time. We went in a different way and it worked really well, and the main reason is because the players understood and, after, they did it on the pitch.”

The Portuguese head coach watched approvingly from the directors’ box – serving the final game of his touchline ban – leaving the technical away duties in the capable hands of Luis Boa Morte.

“We expected a little bit of the high pressure that Everton was doing the last few games at home. They have been really strong, apart from the game against Villa where they lost, they have been achieving good results and always creating a lot of problems for the opposition side with the high pressure every time. We knew that is something that we like to do as well, building from the back, and I think we did really well from the first minute of the game. We showed the personality and the character to play in our way, to not change many things.

Silva also adjusted his plan at half-time, with the Cottagers’ second half display pushing Everton deeper into relegation trouble.

“We spoke at half-time, we changed some things slightly, and some things were important for us to prepare better for the second half, and our second half was a very good level. It was clear we controlled, from the beginning until the last moment. We scored twice, we had more chances, we prepared well from some set-pieces, and of course I’m pleased for that because it’s not easy to come here and play the way we did, to control the second half from the first minute until the last one.”