Marco Silva is destined for a big club and his record merits a move
Charting the rise of the Portuguese manager who has now led Watford to the top four in the Premier League
"What's he know about Hull? What's he know about the Premier League? What's he know?" - Paul Merson
"It's quite astonishing that they've appointed somebody like this. It's just baffling, when there's a lot of people out there who know about the Premier League. Know maybe what's required to dig in. He's a man from heaven." - Jeff Thomson
This was the reaction on Soccer Saturday by two former English footballers on Marco Silva's appointment as Hull City boss in January 2017 when the club were ranked bottom in the Premier League.
That's not all. Claims were also made by the two that it was a mere formality to win the league with Olympiakos in Greece.
Hyping up English managers and slating foreign ones is nothing new in the English media. But criticising someone without studying his past, his style of play and never watching him is utterly disrespectable.
It might be the least requirement for an Olympiakos manager to win the Greek League but did Mr. Merson and Mr. Thompson have the knowledge that Marco Silva's team finished a record 30 points ahead of the second best team winning 28 of their 30 league games?
They set a record of 17 consecutive domestic wins - a European record in the 21st century. Silva also recorded 9 points in the group stage of the Champions League in a group consisting of Bayern Munich and Arsenal. There was also a historic 3-2 victory at the Emirates which is regarded as one of the club's most iconic results ever
How Silva made a name for himself in Portugal
If you look back into Silva's past, his first managerial job came under weird circumstances. He was initially appointed as the Director of Football at a Porgutuese Second Division club in June 2011, having played for the club as a player since 2005. However due to a poor start to the season with the club languishing in 10th place, Estoril sacked their manager and asked Silva to takeover.
His first match was ended in a 3-1 home defeat but from then Silva lost only three of his next 24 games and won Estoril the Portuguese Second Division Title, helping them to the Portuguese top-flight after a seven-year absence.
His run didn't end there, in fact it was barely the start. In the club's first season back in the top-flight Silva astonishingly guided the club to a fifth place finish (Estoril's second-best finish in history) and qualified for the Europa League - a first in the club's history.
He went one better again in his third season at the club with a remarkable fourth placed finish. Estoril astonishingly won nine times on the road in that season. There was a monumental 1-0 league win away to FC Porto, which was Porto's first home league defeat in more than five years.
This attracted the attention of Portuguese giants Sporting and he took over the reins from the start of the 2014/15 season. And even at Sporting he managed to achieve more than what was expected. A third place finish in the league and winning the Taca de Portugal, the club's first piece of silverware in seven years.
Silva inspires hope at Hull before Watford move
When Silva took over at Hull, the club were bottom of the pile with just 13 points from 20 games, far away from safety. They ended the season with 34 points.
Hull recorded 1.16 pts per game under Silva compared to 0.65 before him. They won six out of 16 games under Silva compared to three in 20 before him. Silva also guided the club to the semi-finals in the League Cup, narrowly losing out 3-2 to Manchester United on aggregate.
Hull City's problem was not that they appointed Silva but it was that they didn't appoint him sooner. Had Silva managed the club right when Steve Bruce left then Hull would still have been in the Premier League. Of course, none of this was to please Mr. Merson who again slated Silva when he was appointed by Watford.
In a preview of the upcoming Premier League season, Merson was asked: "Will Watford thrive under Silva?"
"No, they will get relegated. To have a manager who has enhanced their reputation by being relegated is remarkable. He had the chance to bring in players and didn't achieve what he was brought in for," was his churlish reply.
But again Silva has proven his critics wrong. With their 2-1 win over Arsenal at the weekend, Watford now occupy fourth place in the league, ahead of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.
There was a 3-3 draw with Liverpool at home to kick start their season and a 6-0 loss to Manchester City later. Their away form though has been remarkable, having collected nine points out of a possible 12 on the road.
Silva again has managed to do an excellent job against the clubs similar to Watford, the mid-table or the lower half clubs. In five games against such clubs, Watford have managed to win three and draw two of those games. They are now on course for being the best team "out of the top 6" mini league.
Why Silva deserves to manage a big club
Still success comes with a peril. If Silva does really manage to finish 7th or 8th with Watford this season he would again attract attention from big clubs and this time it could be a European or possibly a Champions League club. He has always managed to find a job better than his current role.
Starting in the Portuguese second division, he is now managing a mid-table or a top half Premier League club via a successful stint in Greece. Silva's track record merits that. There has not been a single season where he has not met expectations. In fact, he has overachieved in most of them.
Silva has a knack of creating an attractive and adventurous side on a budget. He is only going to get better with a bigger budget. And he also likes to build his side on a solid defence.
In his first season with Estoril, the club conceded only 20 goals in the entire campaign. In the thrid season the club kept 11 clean sheets in the top flight being a minnow. And he has managed to create effective defensive sides ever since.
His decision not to start club legend and record goal-scorer Troy Deeney in seven of their eight league games so far also suggests that he is brave in make tough decisions. He has instead built his side around new signings Richarlison and Andre Gray and has also got the best out of big-club outcasts such as Tom Cleverley and Nathaniel Chalobah.
Watford fans should continue enjoying their time under Silva as long as it lasts because it's only a matter of time before Watford become the new Southampton whose previous managers Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman have been plucked away by top clubs.