The Everton stalwart was heading into the season ready to be phased out by the younger options in his position. However, Jagielka has proven more than his worth this season and has pulled Everton through some sticky situations.
Defensively Everton haven’t been at their best for a number of seasons now, but, it’s become more obvious this season that the defence is a lot better off with Phil Jagielka in it than without. The ageing centre back has guided Everton’s shaky defence through some tricky games and has made impacts when necessary.
Michael Keane and Mason Holgate are definitely two players that can acknowledge that their captain has been a tremendous support to them in finding their feet when selected to play. Notably Jagielka’s father-like guidance and support to Mason Holgate during Everton’s 2-1 defeat to Liverpool in the FA cup was something to marvel over. when the heat became too much for young Holgate, Jagielka pulled him away from the fire and made the youngster regather his composure to continue. Likewise with Michael Keane, during performances this season he has made an error and he has instantly dropped his head. But, with Jagielka in support Keane’s mistakes became less frequent and the former Burnley centre back looked a lot more at ease.
Overall Rating: 7/10
Amongst the above mentioned there is a certain trait of professionalism that has never gone missing from Jagielka’s performances. In recent years he has come under fire from fans amongst times when expectations were high and fans increased what they want to see from a player. But, for me, Jag’s captaincy and ability to complete his job has never been an issue.
This season both Ronald Koeman and Sam Allardyce attempted to promote Ashley Williams to the role as club captain, both occasions failed. Since being given the captains armband Williams has hit an all time low performance wise and his attitude has been a subject of question. What Jagielka has provided on the contrary to that is a willingness to face up to the failings and tackle the problem on the next available opportunity. It’s been tough for the fans but Jagielka genuinely seems to care for the direction of the club and is so brutally honest with his post match assessments of the teams performances, even disagree with Sam Allardyce on one occasion onMonday Night Football.
It’s that that makes an Everton captain, the steeliness to want more, the strength of character to face failure and the pride and hunger to want to make things right or constantly improve. Of course Phil Jagielka is not the most gifted we’ll ever see, but he has been around the block more than most and can still hold his own against the quickest and best forwards the league can throw at him.
Areas to improve
Improvement for Jagielka would come in the form of consistency. It’s something that has troubled the centre half for a good part of his Everton career, not majorly but enough to mount minor frustrations. Believe it or not I’m of a firm belief that the fitness of the 35-year-old isn’t of much concern in the way of his consistency, I feel it has more to do with concentration more than anything else.
As we witnessed in Everton’s game against Everton’s 1-1 Premier League draw to Liverpool at Anfield, a momentary lapse in his surroundings and alertness created a gift for the opposition to start the scoring. It is so frustrating when it happens and he is liable to making 2-3 of that magnitude of mistake per season.
The final point that we’d all appreciate some improvement on is Jagielka’s distribution. In the last couple of seasons the centre half has opted for a punt as far up field as he can get it, which is great if you don’t want to keep the ball. However, with Everton investing heavily in midfield options both last pre season and presumably this, it’s important they aren’t bypassed with a hoofed clearance time and time again.
Season appearances: 22
Avg. Duals won: 57%
Avg. pass accuracy: 77%
Total errors leading to a goal: 1
Tackles per game: 38
Avg. tackle success rate: 67%
Headed duals won: 43
Considering Jagielka himself was concerned for his Everton future at the start of the season, it’s been an almost full turn around to the benefit of the centre back. Another season ticked off and still holding a reputation for a respected defender with the ability to hold things together when it gets tough for his team.
May will be happy not only for the team but for Phil Jagielka himself that he was able to once again make an impact when things looked to be on a steady decline from action. 35-years-old isn’t young for any pro footballer, however when he’s still competing for the quickest player at the club award it goes without saying that his legs still have it in them to keep up. Whether or not Jagielka will be able to continue his reputable standards is yet to be seen, however to begin the process of winding down a career at this stage is something not many pros can lay claim to as most would usually have hung up their boots prior to Jagielka’s age.