• Defiant Silva confident of turnaround in form.
• When Allardyce was sacked, fans made clear their dislike of his direct style of play and Silva was appointed.
At Turf Moor on Saturday, Toffees supporters might well have adapted a version of the famous catchphrase from 1980s gameshow Bullseye to sum up their own club’s plight as their team fell to a narrow but worryingly predictable 1-0 loss at Burnley.
That’s because if fate had taken a different course, Clarets manager Sean Dyche might have been in the opposite dugout, having been a reported target for the Merseyside club when Ronald Koeman was sacked in October 2017.
Instead, the Englishman stayed at Turf Moor and the Merseysiders eventually opted for Marco Silva, after David Unsworth and — more productively — Sam Allardyce steered them to safety that same season.
Now, the two clubs are heading in opposite directions. Burnley’s 1-0 win moved them up to fifth, while Everton dropped down to 17th - one place above the relegation zone. They could be in the bottom three by the end of the weekend.
So have the Blues regressed since Silva’s appointment? And could this defeat in what was, on paper at least, a rather unspectacular Premier League fixture have serious repercussions for one man?
Silva is in the second of a three-year deal at Everton, having been put in charge as a replacement for Allardyce.
The club were typically consistent in his first season in charge, their eighth-placed finish was the 11th time in the past 13 campaigns they have ended between fifth and eighth.
But having failed to infiltrate the top six monopoly since Roberto Martinez’s first season in charge in 2012-13, the Toffees hierarchy backed their man with a summer spend of more than £100m on new players.
Alex Iwobi, signed from Arsenal for a hefty £34m on transfer deadline day, should have won the game against Burnley but missed two chances from promising positions, while Fabian Delph - a snip at £8m and fresh from helping Manchester City to a domestic treble - put in a shift in the middle of the park.
But the other big acquisitions have not yet worked out. Teenager Moise Kean is still to break his goalscoring duck following his £25m move and has been used mostly off the bench, while Ivorian Jean-Philipe Gbamin was ruled out for two months after just his second game.
Gbamin’s injury absence has compounded the loss of influential midfielder Idrissa Gueye, who left to join Paris St-Germain in the summer.
A fourth consecutive defeat - the club’s worst run since January 2015 - means Silva heads into the international break in an uncomfortable position, with the two-week hiatus from club football a notoriously dangerous time for managers.
It will be of little relief to the Portuguese that the one-goal defeat stopped him becoming the first Toffees boss since 1958 to lead his team to four straight losses by two or more goals. It is only a few months ago that he led them to a run of one defeat in the final eight games of last season, including wins over Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United without conceding.
Can Silva turn things around? He let out a sigh as he took his place at the table in the post-match news conference.
“Of course,” he said defiantly. “I have the same fight in what we are doing. The players know what we are doing but we need results.
“At this club, we had worse moments than this and we reacted well. We had a fantastic period and showed what we can do. I don’t have doubts about doing that again.
“The fans have the right to be angry and I understand 100%. They have to keep supporting us like they did this afternoon. We did not get the results in the last four games and they have all the reasons to be angry with us.
“It is up to us work harder, win these type of games by being more brave, more clinical and the front players have to be more decisive. The confidence is not the best at the moment but with results it will grow. We have to stick together to change things and the next one (West Ham at home on 19 October) is a must-win game.”
When Allardyce was sacked, fans made clear their dislike of his direct style of play and Silva was appointed.
At the time, Everton’s director of football Marcel Brands said: “One of the most important things is that he’s a guy who wants to play attractive, attacking football and also wants to work in the structure we have at Everton.”
Though the number of long balls have decreased and passes per game increased, other key statistics suggest a lack of improvement.
He has triumphed in 17 of his 46 Everton games, with his 37% win percentage and average of 1.3 points per game being worse than Allardyce, whose figures were 37.5% and 1.4.
And three factors in Saturday’s match will be of serious concern to Everton fans. When Jeff Hendrick scored from Ashley Westwood’s corner, it was the 22nd goal the Toffees have conceded from set-pieces since the start of last season — more than any other side.
Captain Seamus Coleman’s dismissal for two avoidable yellow cards, which Silva described as ‘really harsh’, made him the sixth Everton player to be sent off since Silva took over. Again, that is more than any other side.
And their failure to pick up a point after going 1-0 down at Turf Moor means they have lost all 20 matches when they have fallen behind under Silva.
Silva has managed Hull, Watford and now Everton since coming to English football in January 2017.
He failed to keep the Tigers up that campaign despite an impressive initial impact. He then moved to Watford, lasting just 24 league games before being sacked in January 2018.
The Hornets blamed an approach from Everton for Silva the previous November as the “catalyst” for their decision, saying it sparked a slump in form that saw them win just one of 11 league games.
Watford later reported Everton to the Premier League for an illegal approach, with the two clubs reaching ‘an amicable agreement’ over the issue in February. At 42, this is Silva’s sixth job as a manager and it was only in his first role at Estoril in Portugal where he managed more than 100 games. Coincidentally - but perhaps worryingly - his average spell at a club is 52 games, with this defeat against Burnley his 52nd match in charge of Everton.
It is that lack of longevity which led BBC Sport’s chief football writer Phil McNulty to describe his appointment as a ‘gamble’ at the time. Dyche, who has put together a solid, hard-working squad at Burnley - assembled for around £38m, roughly equating to 20% of Silva’s spend — now sits five points and 12 places above Everton.
He lent his support to Silva, calling the job ‘tough’.
“I respect all managers and Everton really had a go at winning,” he said. “I have had my fair share of tough times and most clubs go through it.
“Every manager has their own way of dealing with problems. They use people around them to do that and I am sure he will be doing that with his players and staff. The manager takes the good and the bad news but there are a lot of people involved to make that happen. It is not just the manager, a lot more people should take responsibility.”