Marco Silva

Marco Silva silencing his critics at Hull City

When Marco Silva first arrived at Hull City in January, the consensus was the Portuguese had been extremely lucky to be given a chance to manage in the Premier League. Three months later, Hull will be fortunate to hang on to him.

Hull looked doomed for a swift return to the Championship after Steve Bruce unceremoniously walked away from the club three weeks before the season began. Bruce, undoubtedly the club’s most successful manager, had led the Tigers to promotion twice on two separate occasions as well as the FA Cup final. He had attained a demigod status at the KCOM Stadium; to the extent that his shocking exit sent despair among the fans and board alike as to what next might befall them.

“Steve has excelled in his role – both on and off the field – and will be remembered for being the most successful manager in our history to date,” a club statement revealed.

For Bruce, who at that time was eyeing the England job, it was perceived as "the right step for the club to move forward in a different direction and with someone else in charge”. And indeed, the club did make a speedy move after his departure. Mike Phelan was the man saddled with the monstrous task of keeping them in the top flight and exceptionally, he turned things around almost immediately. The 54-year-old surprisingly mustered two successive victories away at defending champions, Leicester City and then at home to Swansea City. The fans were in a fantasy world and were already dreaming of replicating Leicester’s fairytale run of last season.

But the script was visible from day one; the club’s apparent dizziness in the summer coupled with the manager’s inexperience meant there was bound to be a backlash in the long run. And it happened: Hull found themselves at the wrong end of the table by the start of the new year after picking up just three points from nine games. Unfortunately, Phelan paid the ultimate price considering fellow strugglers, Swansea City and Crystal Palace, had done likewise in December.

Then came Marco Silva, a manager whose English was as bad as his knowledge of the country and the club. His appointment was greeted with outrage, disbelief, and disdain; one labelled an insult to home-grown coaches – to the extent that Sky Sports pundits, Paul Merson and Phil Thompson, launched a scathing assault on the tactician. He was practically being prayed for to fail by all and sundry including the board who ignorantly offered him just six months contract. Furthermore, they also sanctioned the sale of Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass, two of their best players.

But all the rancour never really mattered to the 39-year-old Portuguese gaffer who had his eyes firmly planted on the ultimate goal. A calm and easy going fellow, Silva arrived in England with an impressive resume having worked at Estoril, Sporting Lisbon, and Olympiacos. He had never lost at home in his managerial career and even clinched the Greek league title by winning a record 17 consecutive games.

“For me, it’s not important, I respect all the opinions, what the football people talk, but for me not important really,” Silva said about his critics. He added: “For me what is important is my work with my players and what our fans feel, what our fans believe.”

And truth be told, Silva has brought the Steve Bruce days back to the KCOM. He has achieved this with players deemed misfits by their parent clubs and those already considered not good enough to play in the Premier League. Merseyside flops, Oumar Niasse and Lazar Markovic, as well as Inter Milan’s reject, Andrea Ranocchia is perfect examples. Against all odds, Hull is on an improbable eight-game unbeaten run at home – their latest was a 4-2 victory over Middlesbrough. The win takes the Tigers to 30 points and out of the relegation zone, which is an unbelievable feat thus far.

The job isn’t done yet for both Hull and Silva. However, irrespective of what happens at the end of the season, the Portuguese gaffer has already done enough to force his critics to swallow their words. And should the Tigers stay up, they will most definitely have a herculean task tying down the 39-year-old who might just be snapped up by a bigger side in the league.

About the Author Toby

An unrepentant soccer freak other freaks call geek.

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