When Marco Silva is finally announced as the new Everton manager this week it will bring an end to a long and ugly courtship.
Everton have wanted and Silva has wanted Everton for quite some time. Unfortunately for both parties, Watford refused to move out the way to allow a union.
In the intervening period, Everton endured an acrimonious spell of which only Roy Hodgson’s time in charge of Liverpool can compare to while Silva was sacked in January after winning just one in 11 games following interest from the Toffees.
Five months later both parties will finally be reunited but it is a marriage that involves both parties needing to repair damaged reputations.
A fantastic record
Silva is a manager who has an impressive record outside of the Premier League. He led Estoril from the Portuguese second division to fourth in Liga Nos in two years. A cup win with Sporting only enhanced his standing.
Add in a league title win with Olympiakos, in which they went on a record-breaking number of consecutive wins and pick up 85 points in total, as well as an away victory over Arsenal in the Champions League, and him being considered a bright up and coming manager was well deserved.
It was a reputation he added to during his time with both Hull and Watford in the Premier League. The Tigers were down and out upon his arrival but courtesy of his attacking football and nous came close to an unlikely survival.
Watford, meanwhile, were a side transformed under his leadership before Everton’s interest ruined the harmony. Attacking football, flair and style earned plaudits among both the Hornets’ fan base and those watching from the outside.
Yet both reigns ended in disappointment. For all of the positives, Hull City were still relegated from the Premier League. The manner in which Watford nosedived can also not be overlooked.
Silva’s head was turned and it has led many to worry he is a mercenary always looking for the next step. Everton could suffer as Watford did if a bigger club comes sniffing.
Not the man many fear him to be
At Goodison Park, he must not only prove that he has the tactical nous to revive a club after one of their worst seasons in a long while, at least as far the fans are concerned, but also that he is not the man many fear him to be.
He must prove he is a manager who can build a side worthy of not only helping Everton to break the glass ceiling above them but also end the long wait for a trophy too. It is no short task.
Too long has England’s fourth most successful club gone without a trophy and providing one would go a long way to rebuilding his damaged reputation. The Everton job very may well be the last shot he has at proving he is good enough to manage in England and potentially a higher level.
Everton, meanwhile, must aim to repair their standing among their own fan base following last season’s disappointment.
It was a campaign of few highlights, encapsulated by disappointing football and the ignominy of having Sam Allardyce as their manager. The lows vastly outweighed the highs.
Said lows were made worse by what had preceded the season in the summer transfer window. The Blues spent vast money, consistently breaking their transfer record in an attempt to break the top six and join the elite again.
Hope was raised and talk of a new top seven plentiful.
Trust in Moshiri
Instead, they ended up scrambling for an eighth-placed finish and further away from those top six sides than they have ever been.
The fans have not only become disillusioned and disconnected from their club but they have lost faith in those who run it.
They continue to question the ambition of chairman Bill Kenwright and the judgement of Farhad Moshiri, whose key appointments so far, namely Ronald Koeman, Sam Allardyce and Steve Walsh, have all failed to impress.
Hiring Silva is the Iranian businessman’s last chance at proving he knows what he is doing. Like Koeman, Silva is his choice and if he doesn’t succeed or hit the expected aims, trust in Moshiri will only be further damaged.
If he is a success, however, then those that feel disconnected from their club will flock back in their droves. If he only provides better football than that offered by Allardyce they will be happy.
Evertonians do not expect the world; they are not as unrealistic as the media perceive them to be. They do, though, want entertaining football and a club to be proud of.
Everton hope that appointing Silva is the first step on the path to both of those things. They need him to be, their reputation among those inside Goodison has been damaged heavily this season. Silva’s has endured a similar downward turn.
Both parties will now be praying that this long-awaited marriage is a successful one on all fronts. Their respective futures could be determined by how well it pans out.