First it was a Chelsea fan on social media he snapped back at ahead of the international break and then, against Bournemouth, it was some of the Brazilian’s team-mates who got an ear-bashing. So what’s eating Thiago Silva?
The grand old duke of Chelsea’s pubescent squad celebrates his 39th birthday on Friday, but, rather than mellowing with each year that passes, Silva appears to be getting angrier with what is going on around him at Stamford Bridge.
He underlined his dissatisfaction again in midweek by posting a crying emoji next to the Champions League handle on X, formerly Twitter, which was viewed by over seven million people.
Silva is meant to be the man setting an example to his much younger team-mates, but it was the veteran who head coach Mauricio Pochettino had to tell to calm down during the draw with Bournemouth.
It was not long before half-time last Sunday that Silva’s frustration boiled over, when he received the ball from goalkeeper Robert Sanchez but found there was nobody close enough to pass to. He reacted by screaming “come on.”
A couple of weeks earlier, following the home defeat to Nottingham Forest, it had been a supporter on social media who irritated Silva with a post claiming he should be dropped and that Pochettino was having to play a back five to “shoehorn” him in.
Silva responded directly with a message that said: “If you look closely at the game, we are playing with a line of four my friend! But there’s no problem in assuming that I’m also responsible for the defeat. Put the pressure on me. No problem yesterday.”
Pochettino would agree with Silva that his formation has been a back four and yet there was some merit in the point made by the supporter, as the decision to play Levi Colwill as a makeshift left-back appears to have been taken with protecting Chelsea’s old-timer in mind.
Former head coach Thomas Tuchel was very much of the view that Silva needed to play in a back three, while, for all his admiration of the player, Graham Potter worried that he wanted to sit too deep in a back four.
Silva has not been shy to tell his managers how he feels the team should be set up and play, particularly as he eyes a transition into coaching when he finally hangs up his boots. He is demanding at the training ground and on the pitch, but his high standards can also, sources claim, cross the line into sulking when he does not feel they are being met.
While some players idled their way through the final embarrassing weeks of last season, Silva fumed and the slow start to this campaign appears to have done nothing to improve his mood.
It is only natural that Silva would want to sit deeper than younger defenders might want to, but he and Axel Disasi spent so much time near their own 18-yard box against Bournemouth that it made pressing high up the pitch much more challenging and left Chelsea’s full-backs and midfielders acres of space to cover while supporting the attack.
Accommodating Silva, who has been one of Chelsea’s best performers over his three years at the club so far since joining on a free transfer from Paris St-Germain, has always been worthwhile but it will not be forever and Benoit Badiashile’s return from injury will give Pochettino something to think about.
Allowing for the occasional tantrum, Pochettino will no doubt be worried about the prospect of dispensing with Silva’s experience and leadership given how young and relatively inexperienced the rest of his squad is.
It was a puzzle to a number of sources that Silva was not named as one of Chelsea’s captains at the start of the season and his apparent refusal to take the armband when it has been offered to him during games has been spotted by those on social media who like to dissect such things.
Pochettino has insisted that Silva does not need an armband to be a leader, but, nevertheless, it seemed strange that with captain Reece James injured and vice-captain Ben Chilwell on the substitutes’ bench last weekend that Conor Gallagher, a player Chelsea had been open to selling during the summer, was made skipper for the day.
The decision to award the captaincy to James was made in collaboration between Pochettino and the club, but there is an argument the 23-year-old would have been better left to spend another season managing his fitness, rather than worrying about a dressing-room as well. Chilwell is a popular character in the squad, but is one of the more laid back players in Chelsea’s squad.
Having now turned 39 and once again in the final year of what has been a rolling contract, it seems inconceivable that this will be anything other than Silva’s final year at Chelsea. Whether or not it proves to be an enjoyable one remains to be seen, as fairytale endings are a rare thing in football.