Marco Silva referred to his experience as a Champions League head coach three times in the opening nine minutes of his introductory press conference at Fulham this afternoon but it is his first job in management, at Portuguese club Estoril a decade ago, that is perhaps more pertinent to the 44-year-old’s latest challenge of leading the West London club out of the Championship at the first opportunity.
Nineteen months after leaving Everton, Silva has a point to prove in his fourth role in English football. And while referring to his credentials in Europe’s premier competition with Olympiacos evidently remains irresistible, winning promotion from Portugal’s second tier in his first job in management is a more relevant reference point.
Silva made his name in coaching by leading Estoril out of Liga 2 in 2011/12 before leaving the club stable in the top tier over the next two seasons. From there he went on to their bigger neighbours Sporting Lisbon prior to guiding Olympiacos in the Champions League.
Mixed spells at Hull City and Watford, amid much fanfare, came next before his reign at Goodison Park started well prior to a dismal end, losing 5-2 to Liverpool on December with Everton 18th in the Premier League table in early December 2019.
Asked if the Estoril experience can provide him with inspiration at Craven Cottage, Silva said: “It was something that was in my mind at the moment when I start to talk with the people inside the club. It’s true that I started in the second division and got the club promoted as champions of the second division in my first spell as manager. We built from there and had two fantastic seasons.
“Now this is my second time in a second division rather than but that is the past. It was a fantastic feeling, a really good feeling to give a football club. I believe now that this club deserves to be in a different division but now we must keep our feet on the floor because it will be tough. We have to compete really hard, we have to have full focus and respect for the other opponents. We have to show on the pitch that we can do that.”
Strengthening the squad before the transfer window shuts on August 31 remains a priority but Silva is not ruling out some big-name departures.
Attacking midfielder Harry Wilson has arrived from Liverpool for about £12m along with goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga from Tottenham on a free. The core of Fulham’s team last season was made up of loan players but several permanent squad members, including young centre back Tosin Adarabioyo, have interest from Premier League teams.
“I’m really confident that we can keep our best players,” Silva added. “We know all the players would prefer to be in the Premier League than the Championship.
“But we’re here at Fulham football club. They want to be part of it, they have a desire to go back to the Premier League with Fulham but of course the market is open and you cannot say for 100% sure that this squad, these players, will be here until the end of the market.
“It’s not something just in my hands. But for now there is not one sign that a player will leave the club. If you ask me in one week, two weeks or three weeks some things may change but for now I’m working with them to achieve what we want at the end of the season.”
Source by Football London