EPL 2016/17: Why Marco Silva the Premier League's new managerial asset
What is the essential quality that a manager needs to have in order to extract the best he can from his squad? Is it the mind of a master tactician? An expert man manager? A self-righteous pragmatist?
There are a few managers such as Jose Mourinho who's most important approach to a team is to create a blood-bond with his players. Trust and mutual respect. In short, getting the players to play over any barrier that may hurdle their path. Managers such as Conte, who just recently won the Premier League title with a questionable Victor Moses at right wing-back, and Pochettino who led Spurs to their best ever league campaign, are also of the same mould.
Mike Phelan all but gave up when he was in charge of relegation favorites Hull City, who began the season with just 14 fit senior players. ACLs and other long-term injuries to key players such as first choice keeper Alan McGregor before the season hampered their cause even before he began. Three points from safety and no manager, Hull were orchestrating a symphony of self-destruction.
Enter Marco Silva.
An unknown quantity who's most notable introduction to English football was being a Paul Merson scapegoat, Silva's only interaction with the Premier League was against Arsenal in the Champions League. The former Sporting and Olympiakos manager came to England with an exceptional record, having been unbeaten for over two years in a home league game.
When Silva came in, even David Moyes' Sunderland were above them. Now, after both Sunderland and Middlesbrough have gone down, Hull will follow suit - but after valiantly responding to the Portuguese. Under Phelan, they never seemed to have hope, which in all honesty can't be argued against. In contrast, Silva in a recent interview had said that the first thing he explained to his players was that everything from now is very difficult but possible.
It the kind of attitude and approach that enabled him to get a response out of his players, and what a valiant reply it was. It is that psychological edge that top managers in the world possess and is certainly something that clubs are starting to notice in the Hull City boss.
His winter recruitment was smart and efficient, knowing what exactly the team needed. The arrivals of Oumar Niasse, Lazar Markovic, Kamik Grosicki brought the much needed spark in the final third and improved their goal scoring, and others such as Andrea Ranocchia and Alfred N'Diaye have really helped shore up the defensive side of things. His approach to the transfer market has proved to be quite effective.
The Portuguese has been repeatedly linked with a number of Premier League clubs, particularly now that Hull's relegation has been confirmed, courtesy of a 4-0 thrashing at Selhurst Park. Southampton reportedly looks like the most probable destination with Claude Puel's future up in the air. Whichever club comes hunting for Hull's boss, it's certain that he is too good a manager for the second tier of English football. Silva is ferociously ambitious and deserves to stay in the top flight.
He had five months with Hull to pull off a miracle from the bottom of the table, and they fought till the penultimate week of the season. They've fought bravely but are now set for a fast-track return to the Championship.
But it looks like Silva is staying at the top, after a successful audition in the English top tier. He's shown that he has the character and the skill needed. And most importantly, he has that ability to get a psychological response from his players.
Karim Benzema once said, "Players just listen to him when he speaks, it's like he has a strange quality" about Jose Mourinho during his stint in Madrid.
Is Silva another masterful man-manager in the making?
Only time will tell.