Breaking news: Everton club captain Phil Jagielka isn’t as young as he used to be.
Everyone still okay? Anyone in shock? Alright, so, as an elder statesman, Jags’ role in the side is shifting, and he’s coming to grips with it as all players a little too heavy on experience do.
Jagielka recently talked openly to the Liverpool Echo about how he is going through this challenge. While he spoke with regret about the fact that he isn’t able to be out there every day anymore, he does credit his teammates and his coaches with making the transition easier.
“When you’ve got your close friends around you who have been here a long time and the coaching staff it makes life a bit easier but when it comes to match day you still want to play.
“There’s not a single little bit of me that is glad when I’m not playing but I understand with my age, getting more people in and it being a squad game your role has to change slightly.”
He also spoke of his desire to give Koeman a “headache” with regard to selection, and that competitive fire is exactly why he is still our captain and leader.
Jagielka openly admits that he had the chance to move on last year when Koeman arrived and turned down that chance to stay loyal to the Toffees. It’s a great thing that his loyalty has been rewarded with continued involvement in the first team, and it’s also great that he’s been so professional in handling this situation.
“There were options to try and leave and go and play regular football, either in the same league at a lesser team but even in a different league but I’m at a great club here and I still want to fight for my place.
“I’m proud to still be captain and to try and help out both on and off the pitch. Until I stop getting those emotions, I’m definitely in the right place.”
How does he feel about Everton being in Europe again? Jagielka is more than excited about the prospect of pitting his wits against teams that the Blues don’t come up against on a regular basis.
“It’s definitely exciting to come up against different types of teams. The Premier League is great and the domestic cup competitions too especially once you reach the later stages but European football has a different feel.
“You do the meetings on the opposition team because you’re not 100% sure what their players are like. That makes you a better footballer as you have to think in a slightly different way.
“In the Premier League you pretty much know who you’re going to come across and how they’re going to play. Everything is like a tactics board whereas in Europe you have to think a little bit more on your feet and work things out on the pitch.”
There is of course the small matter of trying to win the first piece of silverware in over two decades.
“We looked the other day on the board, we’re in four competitions. We want to finish as high up in the Premier League as possible and get as far as we can in any of the cup competitions.
“The Europa League is certainly up there. It’s a long campaign and we understand what we’re getting ourselves into but if you’re telling me now that we’ve got a chance of winning it then everyone, the fans and the players are going to be ecstatic.
“We’re taking every game as seriously as we can and will hopefully qualify for the next stage as quickly as possible. The Europa League is a different avenue into the Champions League and has become a bit more appealing to the clubs with that extra carrot.
“Even if you took that away, just winning the Europa League itself would make a lot of people around the place very happy because obviously we haven’t won a trophy for a while.”
Any season now could be Jagielka’s last in an Everton shirt, let’s enjoy him while we can and give him our full support while he is still here.