Marco Silva: «We fought hard to have Palhinha, it will be very important»

Marco Alexandre Saraiva da Silva, Marco Silva in football, is one of many Portuguese who have expanded the quality brand of Portuguese coaches around the world.

He made history at Estoril, won a Portuguese Cup at Sporting and then emigrated to Greece, where he was champion with the colors of Olympiakos.

In recent years he has been touring England: his first experiences, at Hull City, Watford and Everton, were not brilliant, but it was in Fulham that he made himself truly known in Her Majesty’s lands, with the rise to the Premier League, in a London team’s top-notch season.

In an exclusive interview, the Maisfutebol/TVI meet Marco Silva in the Algarve, where Fulham participated in the Algarve Trophy, to prepare for their return to the top level of English football

Among various topics, the Portuguese coach discusses the signing of João Palhinha, praises Fábio Carvalho and takes a look at Portuguese football: from the arrival of Roger Schmidt at Benfica to a possible return to the League.

In this first part of the interview, Marco Silva talks precisely about João Palhinha’s arrival at Fulham and the evolution of Fábio Carvalho during the last season.

PART II – Marco Silva: Schmidt at Benfica and a possible return to Portugal

PART III – «Hiring in Portugal? There is a lot to look for, but it is very difficult»

To what extent can Marco help João Palhinha and what can João himself offer the team?

João has very specific characteristics of a player in position 6. We did not renew with the player who had a very good season there. And evaluating the market, with João having the objective of playing in the Premier League – and that objective was clear –, he was a player we fought hard to have. It was a decision of the technical team that the direction also supported. It will give us very important things, in terms of positioning and aggression, which is very important for us, it clearly fits in the Premier League. Then, with the ball, he will have to adapt to another idea, the other requirement in terms of position 6. In recent years, Palhinha has always played side by side with another player, but in our team he will often play in a more positional way, to be the pivot of the midfield triangle. He will clearly be number 6 on the team, with two players ahead of him. It’s a completely different situation, he’ll have to adapt, but he’s perfectly aware of that and has all the skills to do it in a very positive way. And then there’s the adaptation to the Premier League: the intensity will be quite different, but Palhinha has the quality to be a great signing for us and help us succeed.

Fulham paid around 20 million to Sporting for Palhinha, to which another two million can be added for goals

One of the players that did not move to this season was Fábio Carvalho, meanwhile sold to Liverpool. Did you notice right away that you had a special talent?

I really believe in Fabio. He has already reached a high level, now he has to prove it at Liverpool. Last season, he also finally made it to the U-21 National Team. For me it’s a pleasure. When we arrived at the club it was practically unused in the first team. It was only 19 years old, but it was practically unused. And the way he identified with our idea and what he gave the team… we were feeling week after week that he could have a great season. We did everything, but unfortunately we were unable to renew the contract. It’s a big loss for us. We made sports and some financial income, even in the last year of his contract he was sold to Liverpool. But we could have made a lot more financial return.

Marco Silva and Fabio Carvalho

Is it one of the great stars of this generation that promises to be the future of the National Team?

We’re talking about a 19-year-old, but I believe he can reach the highest level in football, he has what it takes. He has an excellent mentality, competitive, and besides the technical quality he has very good characteristics. He likes to play between the lines and has a first reception and driving ability not very normal for a young man of that age. Now he’s gone to the highest level of English football, a big club. It will continue to be very important for Rui Jorge in the under-21s. You have to be lucky and have opportunities, but I believe Fábio will have a great future. He is already at a very high level.