Marco Silva’s measured tones disguised the inner turmoil he must surely have felt after VAR inflicted the cruellest of cuts on an Everton manager who appears to be surviving on a game-to-game basis.
Silva will have glanced up at the clock at the King Power Stadium as the board showing three minutes of stoppage time went up – three minutes away from a draw with title-chasing Leicester City that could have provided respite, albeit briefly.
Instead, Silva was left cutting a lonely, disconsolate figure among Leicester City’s celebrations after the video assistant referee once again proved it was no friend of the 42-year-old Portuguese, as Kelechi Iheanacho’s injury-time winner was awarded despite the intervention of a linesman’s flag for offside.
It would have taken the hardest of hearts not to feel sorry for Silva being denied a point he felt Everton deserved after a battling, defiant display that merited more than that late kick in the teeth.
The theory among some is that a VAR decision will cost a manager his job this season – we may be about to find out.
The bottom line, however, is that Everton are now in 17th place, two points off the relegation places, and this is a manager living on borrowed time.
Silva is not only losing games but he also fulfils the lines from the old Blues song saying that if it was not for bad luck, he would have no luck at all. It is a toxic combination.
He responded to a question about whether he will be in charge by saying: “I am not the right person to ask.”
One of the key questions at Everton is – who actually is the right person to ask?
Who is deciding Everton’s direction? Who is the driving force? Who is shaping, or at least trying to shape, the future amid the current inertia?
Is it majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, who is full of ambition but short on football acumen on the evidence of his decision-making since arriving at Everton in February 2016?
Is it chairman Bill Kenwright, armed with just a 5% shareholding and blamed by many Everton supporters for the re-emergence of the name of David Moyes as a potential interim successor to Silva?
The suggestion – sentimental and a retrograde step – has been greeted with fury by a groundswell of supporters given Moyes’ track record of failure at Manchester United, Real Sociedad, Sunderland and, to a lesser degree, West Ham United since leaving Goodison Park in 2013.
Or is it director of football Marcel Brands, now on the club’s board and placed in charge of all football strategy?
This description alone suggests the Dutchman lured from PSV Eindhoven must call the shots and Moshiri should simply have the sign off.
Brands is the man with the global contacts book, the networking reputation. If Everton, as everyone suspects, want a new manager then his job description suggests he should be providing the name.
The sense remains that Silva is still Everton manager only because the club’s owner and board cannot find a successor and they are still spooked by the events of October 2017, when Ronald Koeman was sacked without a replacement waiting and a sorry saga ended with a joyless, expensive dalliance with Sam Allardyce.
Moshiri will want to avoid a repeat at all costs, so Silva stays in his job amid a swirl of speculation, left hanging out to dry as the public symbol of a rudderless club deep in trouble.
The mess Everton find themselves in has to be placed mainly at Moshiri’s door as he effectively made Silva a pet project after Koeman’s sacking, even to the extent of provoking acrimony with Watford following an unwanted approach when he was in charge at Vicarage Road.
Everton do not face an easy task in lining up a successor so they deserve a measure of understanding here but there is no escaping the impression they are keeping the current manager because they are not sure what to do next.
Everton’s decision-makers met immediately after the home loss to Norwich City and the decision made was to let the besieged Silva carry on.
Will it be the same now after this harsh loss?
There is every chance Silva will take charge for Wednesday’s Merseyside derby against Liverpool at Anfield but another defeat there, if he does indeed survive, will surely spell the end.
Silva correctly pointed out that Everton deserved more as they operated on at least equal terms with Leicester City for 68 minutes.
Everton were reduced to two fully fit midfield men in Tom Davies and Gylfi Sigurdsson and yet still carried a combative edge right up until that sickening 95th-minute finale.
Silva has been robbed of key midfield duo Andre Gomes and Jean-Philippe Gbamin with long-term injuries, while Fabian Delph was also out and Morgan Schneiderlin was only fit enough to be a substitute.
He used a five-man defensive strategy that worked for long spells but once again Silva ended with a defeat, the manner of which provided further evidence, if it were even needed, that this can be a very cruel game.
The clock is ticking on Silva – it is now up to those in charge at Everton to decide how long for.