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Wantaway Idrissa Gueye can save fragile Marco Silva at Everton

16:58 SAST 2019/02/06
Idrissa Gueye Everton
With a desired move to Paris Saint-Germain falling through, the midfielder must up his game to save his manager

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While the dust has finally settled on what was a surprisingly quiet winter transfer window for Premier League sides, the uncertainty surrounding Everton and Marco Silva won’t seem to go away.

Another loss last weekend condemned the Toffees to their tenth defeat of a yo-yo campaign that saw them start really well before the wheels came off in the last couple of months. 

The 3-1 setback at Goodison Park against Wolverhampton Wanderers at the weekend was their seventh loss since the start of December, and the alarming decline has seen pressure mount on Silva in recent weeks.

It's been evident in his posture too, as well as his mannerisms, both presenting a picture of a man who appears to be on borrowed time. 

The Portuguese coach needs his players to step up to the plate and silence critics who have torn into them for weak performances and results.

That includes Idrissa Gueye, who seemingly wanted out of the supposedly sinking ship in January.

On one hand, it’s hard to dig out the Senegal international following his request to the club to allow him leave for Paris Saint-Germain.

Idrissa Gueye | 2018-19 Premier League stats

At 29, that proposed move to the French giants not only came with pecuniary benefits, but also a chance to secure trophies, something every player desires, something that was frankly not going to manifest in Merseyside this season...or any time soon!

Perhaps some fans would criticise his decision to jump ship in the middle of the season, but considering his age, it was reasonable of Gueye to want to jump at this opportunity.

Ultimately, Gueye’s proposed move fell through, and now expect his performances till the end of the season to be met with much scrutiny. It doesn’t help that the Toffees are badly out of form.

While the Senegalese midfielder’s tenacity and doggedness have been missed by Silva in recent matchdays, simply introducing him back into the mix doesn’t guarantee an instant upturn in performances and results, after all he played in the underwhelming FA Cup loss at Millwall a few weeks back, for example.

Everton’s issues run far deeper than just adding a blue-collar head to their midfield. It won’t stop the recent glut of individual mistakes that have crept into the side in the last couple of months; neither would it suddenly spur the Blues’ attacking players like Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson, who have badly gone off the boil since December.

Take the weekend’s loss against Wolves, for example; one can’t legislate for the silly concession of a penalty by one of your experienced heads in Leighton Baines in the opening six minutes, nor the loss of possession by Andre Gomes in midfield which led to the giveaway of a silly free-kick by Michael Keane seconds later, followed by the slack marking by Richarlison from the resulting set-piece which sent the home side trailing 2-1 at the interval.

The cascade of errors was complete with Wolves’ third, as captain Seamus Coleman under-hit what seemed to be an easy three-yard pass to Ademola Lookman just inside his own half, resulting in the away side winning back possession and breaking at pace to seal the win.

Simply reinstating a fit-again Gueye won’t solve a continuing problem from set-pieces that seem to trouble Silva’s sides.

His Hull City team were sat in third for most goals conceded from set-plays, Watford conceded the most during his time there last season, while the Toffees currently top the chart this season.

Be that as it may, an Everton side with the dogged Gueye present is better equipped to cope with the adversity they're facing. The midfielder is the most effective tackler in the Premier League this season, averaging 4.2 per match, and he performs an invaluable duty in front of the back four.

Without him, the Toffees are even more listless and unrooted, with their 6-2 home demolition at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur-where Gana was absent-being one such example.

The tough fixtures seem to be coming in thick and fast for the Blues, with their next five home fixtures being against Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.

Guardiola’s City visit Goodison on Wednesday represents the Toffees' first challenge on their road to recovery.

It's a big ask, but it represents an ideal opportunity for Gueye to step back into the heart of the team and prove that he's fully committed to the cause.

The never-say-die midfield man cannot fix all of Everton's problems, but he can set the tone, and deliver a statement on the pitch that the Toffees still believe in Silva's Toffees project.