Everton captain Phil Jagielka is a bit of a polarizing figure among the Goodison Park faithful. On the one hand, there’s hardly been a more loyal soldier at USM Finch Farm. On the other, Jagielka is one of the faces of a generation of Everton players that the club would like to move past.
That’s not to say he isn’t appreciated or valued, but under Ronald Koeman, Everton are aiming for bigger things than have been attained under Jagielka’s captaincy. Considering that, we review his season.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Despite his age, Jags remains excellent out-and-out defender. His 2.7 interceptions & tackles per 90 minutes ranked in the upper echelon of Premier League. He was careful about getting stuck in, too, averaging just 0.5 fouls per 90 and accruing only 5 yellow cards.
Jagielka, bizarrely, also enjoyed a stretch where he became a big time threat on set pieces, scoring in three consecutive matches during a stretch in the month of April.
Breaking: Phil Jagielka is slow. Not, like, Gareth Barry levels of slow, but a pacy attacker can get Jags turned around pretty easily, and if the captain finds himself out of position, it becomes problematic. Of course, speed is largely down to athleticism and age, which Jagielka has no control over, but when the Blues are defending players like Sadio Mane and Eden Hazard, it’s a definite issue.
One other struggle for Jagielka this season was the difficulty he found in completing long passes. The skill has never been one of his strengths, but Jagielka failed to complete a long ball over 5 times per 90 minutes, a number that was up there with players from much worse teams like Watford and Sunderland.
It was a bit of a strange year in this regard for the captain. He started the season playing with Ashley Williams as a regular starter, before enduring a terrible run of form around the middle of the campaign and giving way to Ramiro Funes Mori.
The Argentinian, though, would suffer a serious injury while away on international duty, and Ronald Koeman was left with no choice but to integrate Jagielka back into the side. From March to May, Jagielka flourished, looking like he drank from the fountain of youth.
Unfortunately, the Blues can’t rely on Jagielka turning back the clock for much longer, and it seems probable that he’ll be relegated to the fringes of the squad next season as Everton acquire at least one top-level central defender.
It’s doubtful that the club try to cut ties with a legend like Jagielka, but don’t be surprised to see him only receive spot cup duty next season.
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