Everton captain Phil Jagielka has spoken about his frustration in being unable to maintain a starting spot, as well as the team’s inconsistencies over the past year or so.
“If you’re looking at it realistically, losing two semi-finals, unfortunately getting the manager sacked, a new manager coming in and starting well you’re hoping to banish the demons, but the form has been up and down against, since September-October, so we’re looking forward to 2017 and see what it brings.
“But frustrating is the only word I could use now but hopefully 2017 would be better. It’s not doom and gloom, we’re still in a pretty decent position.
“As it is, the top five or six teams are putting a little bit of a gap between the rest of us but it is something we need to take on as a challenge now and that if we can’t catch them then we need to give them a really good run for their money and keep picking up points every single game.”
The Blues drew 2-2 away to Hull City in their last game of 2016, a point which helped the Tigers climb off the bottom of the Premier League table.
“We came here with a bit of confidence after the last away performance but one thing we can’t do is give goals away. The way we started – we just kept giving the ball to Hull.
“They accepted the invitation, that created a bit of momentum and they got their goal from a corner. They put us under pressure for the first 20-25 minutes. After that I think we controlled it and it was a case of how we would get back into the game.
“We were very fortunate with how that happened but I think we came out second half and played well. We gave a couple of dangerous free kicks away.
“If you don’t know the quality that Snodgrass produces from free-kicks, you do now. One hits the bar, the other goes in the top corner. There was good character from the lads to come back but we put ourselves under pressure. It was nice for Bainesy to put one on Ross’ head.”
Everton host Southampton in their first game of the new year, and Jagielka is not sure if he will be playing or not.
“It’s difficult, it’s never nice, but at the end of the day the manager is paid to make big decisions, tough decisions and we won comfortably at Leicester so it is something you have got to take as a professional, it’s a squad game.
“I’m not too used to doing but it is something we all have to deal with and as long as the team win, that’s all that matters.
“He’s (Koeman) honest in every aspect, he’s not looking at babysitting us, we’re all grown men and he wants to put together a team that wins and it’s tough luck if you’re not in it.”
He also admitted that being in and out of the squad was affecting his confidence.
“I always try to maintain my standards, but when you don’t play as much your confidence drops a little bit and you become a little bit more apprehensive than you would have done previously, but that’s only natural.
“We don’t know what the team is going to be on Monday, I’m sure there’s seasons gone by where I expected to play every game but, as we’ve seen, that’s not the case this season, it’s a different way of dealing with things but something you have to get used to.”
Jagielka is hoping Everton can start off the year on a better note.
“We always want to do well at home and if we beat Southampton, then Christmas has been quite successful.
“But we are not counting our chickens. It is going to be another tough game against a side that is doing well. It is a big game but we are looking forward to it. Hopefully we won’t be 1-0 down after 30 seconds! It is something we are not happy with. We are giving teams momentum and that is something we need to address sooner rather than later. If you don’t win, you have to make sure you don’t lose.”
An important part of that will come from getting a good start - the Blues find themselves behind more often than not, and lead the League with 12 points gained from losing positions.
“If we knew we would like to rectify it. It is something we are going to have to look at again. Our ball retention was woeful to begin with. When we should have gone long, we went short. When we should have gone short, we went long. It was just the wrong decision making. When you are playing a team like this, you want to put them under a bit of pressure and quieten the fans down. But we did the opposite. It is something we have got to address. We can’t have as bad a start as we had at Southampton.
“Frustration is the best word you can use. We have shown so many glimpses of being a really top class side in every aspect. But then we make sloppy decisions, we have sloppy parts of the game and we keep letting ourselves down. I can understand why there is frustration out there. A lot of fans, a lot of people around the club are hoping and expecting this squad to be doing better and more consistent for 90 minutes. It is something we have got to sort out. The manager wants to get a couple more players in the squad and change things around.”