Marco Silva slams touchline ban as Fulham boss vows not to change despite missing FA Cup replay at Sunderland
Fulham will be without their most-prized asset tonight when they visit Sunderland in their FA Cup fourth-round replay.
Manager Marco Silva will have to watch from the stands after he picked up his fourth yellow card of the season in Friday’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea, earning him a touchline ban.
Fulham have been the surprise package this season, particularly when milking their role as the underdogs against the more fancied sides in the Premier League. However, Championship side Sunderland played that part at Craven Cottage a fortnight ago and came away with a draw and a replay.
The Cottagers will be hoping not to allow Sunderland to beat them at their own game again, but Silva’s absence leaves a significant hole and for his players it will be an eerie experience not hearing him bark tactical instructions from the sidelines.
Silva said: “Of course it’s a blow. It’s not a good thing. It will be really strange — something natural. I have to respect it, even if it will not be good for me or our players.
“I don’t see one reason to get a yellow card. I was giving instructions to [Aleksandar] Mitrovic and I was 100 per cent sure that I did not deserve that. I knew that I would be out of the next game on the touchline.”
Silva implied he feels referees may have it in for his team, noting: “I am the first manager with four yellows this season in the Premier League. Many things for us have been the same. We are the only team in the Premier League with a player who got a yellow card when celebrating with the fans. I think we are the only team that lost one game with two handballs. Many things have happened with us.”
After a steady career as a right-back, Silva became manager of Portuguese side Estoril upon retiring from the club in 2011. He first set foot in England in 2017 as manager of Hull City. He went on to coach Watford, Everton, and now Fulham, where he has enjoyed the greatest success. A lot of the best managers are intense people who wear their heart on their sleeve. Silva is certainly that.
“It’s difficult to take the emotions from yourself,” he reflected. “It’s the way you normally behave. It’s the way my players see me every single day. We want to see more consistency in the [referees’] decisions.”
Silva’s coaching staff includes assistant manager Stuart Gray and former Fulham and Portugal winger Luis Boa Morte as first-team coach. The Fulham manager was unwilling to discuss who would deputise for him on the touchline.
“We are a team and have staff, not just one person. I don’t need to mention names. For sure there is someone who will take care of it.”
Fulham are sitting pretty in eighth place in the Premier League and if they can get past Sunderland tonight they’ll have a real chance of putting together a genuine run in this competition, especially considering managerless Leeds United awaits the winner in the fifth round.
“We want to do it,” Silva asserted. “The most important thing will be FA Cup for us right now, even if we make changes. It will be tough but we believe in ourselves and of course we have to do our maximum to get to the next round.”
Sunderland thought they’d knocked Fulham out when 15-year-old debutant Chris Rigg slammed home before the offside flag went up. They may well need to call again on the youngster courting interest from Newcastle as they have no out-and-out striker fit for the match. Top scorer Ross Stewart is out for the season with an Achilles injury and Joe Gelhardt, on loan from Leeds, is cup-tied.
Fulham will be hoping that gives them the edge, even if Silva is not there to guide them through it.