Marco Silva’s Watford were applauded on an almost weekly basis in the opening months of the season. The Hornets were then hassled by Everton to release their manager when Ronald Koeman was sacked.
Everton have been a club in chaos for much of this season, and rightly turned to Silva to fix all. Ahead of this weekend’s fixtures, they sit level on points.
While this does not mean they are having seasons warranting equal praise, it does show how things have altered. Silva would still have been a brilliant appointment for Everton, and he has still done a great job this season. It is a sign of how perceptions are different for the two clubs more than anything else.
To put it most simply, however, it reflects how easily Everton turned their year around. By the time they play on Monday they will still be in the top half, they might even be able to move to within a point of eighth.
Their opponents on that Monday are bottom-club, Swansea.
It would be a monumental shock if Everton’s four league match unbeaten run did not become five. There is little to excuse just how poor Everton had been before Sam Allardyce’s appointment, the performances of Koeman and David Unsworth look yet worse in light of this run.
Finishing seventh is still within Everton’s grasp, despite the disastrous autumn months.
Okay, that was the floor of their hopes back in August, but that would be an acceptable season. A season that flirted with a bottom three contest, and left many aghast at the carnage prior to Allardyce’s appointment, but still ended up meeting expectations.
Books could be written on what has been wrong at Everton in 2017/18. Yet they remain comfortable of their Premier League status even before Christmas. It has been a necessary, well-timed turnaround.
At the start of this year, there were many an overblown expectation for the Toffees.
Anything more than seventh would have still taken a herculean effort, however. I expected Everton to end the season closer to fourth than eleventh, but – should they finish as ‘best of the rest’ again – it does not matter.
Appointing Allardyce was a relegation-avoiding decision. If he can guide them to their rightful place outside the top six, though, this season will still have served a purpose for Everton. It will have forced the board, staff and players to learn from their plethora of mistakes.
Allardyce can then depart as saviour of yet another Premier League club, and the Toffees can start afresh with a second summer of spending.
Minimal damage done, and – hopefully – progress made.
Less than a month ago, Everton were a laughing stock with a caretaker incapable of winning a match. Now, they can look towards 2018 with a cautious, yet justified, optimism.
Written by Sam Cox
Follow Sam on Twitter @SamRCox_
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