Wednesday 29 November 2017

No Silva lining for Watford as the master usurps the apprentice

In January of this year, Hull City appointed a young, charismatic and unknown Portuguese manager who arrived in England with big ambitions having being hugely successful in his homeland. 

I'm sure we've heard that narrative somewhere before...

The now Watford boss Marco Silva has followed the same managerial path as his compatriot Jose Mourinho to become the Premier League's most sought after boss. Silva announced his arrival in style when the two met for the first time in a League Cup tie only a few weeks after his appointment - Hull's first win over United in any competition since 1974.

It was reminiscent of that night at Old Trafford when Jose's Porto came to Old Trafford in the Champions League last 16 in the 2003-04 season and knocked us out - an achievement celebrated by Mourinho's touchline dash and knee-slide in front of the Stretty: a defining moment that catapulted Jose into the international spotlight.  The two men are good friends, but it was a friendship that had to be put on hold for 90 frenetic minutes on Tuesday at Vicarage Road and - this time - Silva failed to get one over on his countryman as Mourinho proved he's still the master to cut the apprentice down to size: the young upstart was beaten by the experienced old stager. 

Despite the fact that he failed to save Hull from relegation, Silva's stock rose to an all time high and his reputation has continued to soar as he's picked up 21 points from 14 games since he took over at Vicarage Road in the summer - so much so that he became Everton's first choice to replace the sacked Ronald Koeman. Watford, however, held firm and rejected the Toffees admiring glances: understandably they wanted to hold on to a superb young manager working wonders again. 

The pair sit at opposite ends of the managerial spectrum - with Silva's 253 games to Mourinho's 851, and the former's three trophies in comparison to Jose's 25. The two have very different personalities  with Mourinho's controversial and often confrontational style in stark contrast to Silva's measured, philosophical and understated manner. 

But they also share many traits and similarities: for starters, Messrs Mourinho and Marco hold the distinction of being, at present, the only two managers from their country in the Premier League.  Both had unremarkable playing careers before cutting their managerial teeth in Portugal, with Silva winning the Portuguese Cup at Sporting, just as Jose did at Porto the season before that Champions League win. 

Like Jose, Silva is a hard taskmaster and a superb man-manager who gets the best out of his players, commanding the utmost respect and trust of his squad. Watford were disappointing last season under Silva's predecessor Walter Mazzari, but Silva has had more of an impact in three months than the Italian managed in nine - a similar upturn in fortunes that we've experience since we replaced LVG with Jose. 

Silva has lesser expectations to deal with at Watford than Jose does with us, but it will be intriguing to see how his path develops ahead of many more battles with the top brass in the future. 

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