Footballing philosophies have typically been divided into two distinct categories by football supporters in recent years: those who aspire to play the beautiful game in the way it ought to be played, and those who do not.
It must be noted that there exists a growing school of footballing thought which has attempted to reach an equilibrium point between two ends of a clearly defined spectrum. The likes of Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino and Diego Simeone have been widely regarded as some of the pioneers of a philosophy which sits somewhere between the champion of possession-based football, Pep Guardiola, and the master of pragmatic long-ball football, Tony Pulis.
In Marco Silva’s case, he lies somewhere on the spectrum between Pochettino and Guardiola, but the overall style he is striving to implement at Goodison Park is unquestionably a possession-based model.
That Marcel Brands’ summer transfer policy revolved heavily around the recruitment of players from the most iconic possession-based side in world football, Barcelona, is absolutely no coincidence.
With a manager of Silva’s train of thought in the hot-seat at Goodison Park, it was vital that his chances of success were maximised in the transfer market; the summer signings of Andre Gomes, Lucas Digne and Richarlison were all sanctioned with the intention of providing Silva with the appropriate tools to construct a new-look identity on Merseyside.
The Brazilian boy wonder has stolen the headlines so far, Gomes has endeared himself to the supporters with his neat and tidy style, and Digne has showcased the attributes of a modern day full-back, with his insistence on venturing forward at every opportunity in order to utilise his pinpoint crossing ability.
All three players are well-suited to Silva’s style and they are all perfectly placed to become mainstays in his starting eleven, but it’s a signing which preceded Silva’s arrival who best embodies his progressive philosophy, Gylfi Sigurdsson.
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Sigurdsson has been performing with a swagger and pulsating vigour which you would expect from a £45 million player – but last season he cut a considerably restricted figure.
A player who is cunning in possession and at his most effective when he exploits pocket of space from which to penetrate the opposition, Sigurdsson is tailor-made for Silva, and vice versa; every Silva needs a Sigurdsson, and every Sigurdsson needs a Silva.
The influential Iceland international suffered under Sam Allardyce last season in a system which neglected his creative influence, but he has been resurrected under a manager who is much more compatible with the fluid number ten.
Sigurdsson is a phenomenal technical talent with a natural eye for a killer pass which is both impossible to teach and seldom found, even at this level. But it’s his willingness to recover possession for his side, to hassle opponents in possession and selflessly seek out teammates in promising attacking situations when others would succumb to the temptation of seeking out individual glory.
Playing under the constraints of a philosophy which is guilty of coming unstuck against a well-drilled opponent, Sigurdsson also possesses the game-changing edge to bail Everton out of tight situations with his extraordinary technique when shooting from long-range, and that is simply the icing on the cake for a player who embodies everything positive about Silva’s style.
Everton fans – thoughts? Let us know below!
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