Contrary to popular opinion, Sam Allardyce is not a one-dimensional defence-minded manager, at least according to Everton captain Phil Jagielka. Speaking to evertontv, the center half spoke about what the gaffer has been asking the Blues to do.
“Unfairly, some people had their own opinions about the manager, but whatever club he has gone in to, he has dealt with what he has had. He knows he has ability in defence, midfield and attack here, and I am sure he will be able to use all of that.
“The previous clubs he has been at, he has had to play the hand he has been dealt and people have jumped on the bandwagon.
“The gaffer does not say to us, ‘the be all and end all is to defend and we forget about going forward and being attacking’. He wants us to cause problems for the teams we play against. It is up to us to find a mixture of both defensive resolve and attacking purpose.”
Jags showed plenty of attacking purpose in the Merseyside Derby last week as he led a counterattack that resulted in him setting up the Toffees’ equalizer.
”I often go on a bit of a silly run, normally down the left wing, once a game! But it [the goal at Liverpool] was nice. The attacking players did well to get the ball where it was. Yannick Bolasie did really well on the edge of the box, then ‘Mola (Ademola Lookman), who has not had a lot of football, showed glimpses of what he can be as an attacking threat and dragged people across. And Gylfi Sigurdsson must have known I was not going to shoot and he was there, the right person at the right time, with a fantastic finish.
”That is what we are building towards – but with the new staff coming in and the squad changing slightly, it is still early days. We want to move this club forward. If we can put in more performances like that [the second half at Liverpool] we can hopefully come out with a few more points to show for it.”
The defender hasn’t played in every one of the ten games Allardyce has been in charge, but has patiently been biding his time waiting for opportunities.
“I have experience of not playing every game, especially last season. I knew I had to wait my turn. I came on in a couple of games and tried to play my part.
“It is part and parcel of football. We have at least two players in every position. You have to bide your time, and when the boys are doing well, keeping clean sheets and getting the right results, you do not expect to get back in the team.
“That is my job, to perform well when selected. I have to come in and try to do what I am good at, try to help the people around me and keep us moving forward.
“There was a nice, positive atmosphere in the dressing room, results were good, and it was up to me, when I got my chance, to make sure I played my part. That is what I am doing at the moment. Hopefully that will continue throughout the season.”
Everton have struggled recently but Jagielka feels things are improving on the training ground and the results should follow soon.
“It was all about getting some momentum when Allardyce took over in November. Then in Unsy’s (David Unsworth) last game (a 4-0 win over West Ham United), rolling into the manager’s first game (when Everton beat Huddersfield Town 2-0), we had two fantastic results, scored some goals and kept clean sheets – and you could see the belief was there.
“The manager and his staff have kept that going. We have worked on a few things on the training ground and there is plenty more he wants to work on.
“Everything seems to be going in the right direction. We have a tough month coming up but we want to test ourselves and make sure we stay in the top half of the table.
“That (positive vibe at the Club) is what happens with results. The manager has been around the block enough to know that even if the performances haven’t been amazing, if you get the right results for two or three games, then smiles return to faces, and the players’ confidence and form come back.
”He has been clever enough to do that, him and the coaching staff. The sessions he has put on have been really upbeat and you can see that coming through in a lot of the results we have had.”