(Reuters) - New Everton manager Marco Silva fielded 10 of the players he inherited from Sam Allardyce in the 2-1 Premier League win over Southampton on Saturday but the one who came in made all the difference.
After scoring just five goals for Watford last season, Brazilian winger Richarlison has begun life at Everton with three in his first two games and marked his opening game at Goodison Park with a bullet header.
It was precisely the sort of finish that explains why Silva, who once bought him for Watford, invested a further 40 million pounds ($51 million) in making the 21-year-old central to his hopes of an Everton revival.
Richarlison is already Everton’s seventh top scorer for the entire year, just seven goals behind Wayne Rooney.
Southampton simply had no answer to the new boy, lining up with a series of crude challenges that led to four players being booked before the interval and another following afterwards.
Richarlison clearly appreciates the faith Silva has shown in him, giving an indication in an interview with Premier League Brazil, of the bond that exists between them.
“Marco Silva is a great manager and has been very important to me here,” he said. “He is very attentive to the players, explains well whatever you have to do, he’s almost a professor” — an apt description for the man in charge of a team once known as the School of Science.
“I have no doubt that he will be one of the great managers in Europe in a short time. I’ve always played well with him and I hope I can repay the confidence on the field, delivering what he expects from me to the club and to my team mates,” he added.
Good as Richarlison’s goal was, Walcott’s opener was the one that really got Goodison buzzing because it showed how far the team have travelled since the Sam Allardyce era.
The move began on the edge of the area with a free kick, which Leighton Baines feinted to cross before rolling short to Morgan Schneiderlin. The Frenchman flicked a first-time pass forward to Walcott, who took one touch to control and a second to dink the ball past the keeper.
The routine had obviously been worked on the training ground, thrilling the supporters who spent much of last season complaining about Allardyce’s unadventurous football.
Silva, who has three new signings fighting to get into his team, is loath to criticise his predecessor but used a telling phrase in talking about how his team were quickly adapting to new ways.
“Everything is different,” he said.
And that is precisely what Everton’s fans were hoping for.
($1 = 0.7841 pounds)
Reporting by Neil Robinson, editing by Ed Osmond