When Phil Jagielka was spotted warming up as the game wound down, we all wondered if he’d get a sentimental run out for a few minutes on an emotional day at Goodison Park after the unveiling of the Holy Trinity statue earlier.
And whether Marco Silva was indulging the fans or not, he did end up bringing the club captain on for the last three or so minutes as Everton trotted out 2-0 winners against Burnley and the entire Blues fanbase took it as an opportunity to thank the player for his great service to the club and the community over the last decade.
Signed from Sheffield United back in July 2007, the veteran centrehalf’s current Everton deal expires at the end of the season and it’s still up for debate what happens next. Manager Marco Silva recently mentioned that there might be conversation about a one-year extension, and that came up again today too.
Speaking to the Sky Sports analysts Tim Cahill and Jonathan Walters (both diehard Blues!) after the game, Jagielka was asked if his cameo appearance was a farewell -
“The answer to that will probably come out in the next ten days.
“I hope not but there is obviously a good possibility it could be. Time will tell. If not, I will go and find somewhere else to play football. I think I can play on and I feel that way. Whether someone else feels that way is the million-dollar question.
“We have still got a massive squad and there are quite a few players on loan that are due to come back. The manager will want to freshen things up in the summer and it’s important we slim down the squad and progress forward. There is a lot of potential here.”
Meanwhile Silva was also asked about Jagielka, with the manager commending the veteran for his leadership -
“I had a conversation with Jags this week (about his future) and I will have another next week also. What I say to him will stay between me and him. You will have to wait until next week.
“I have met with him many times and we didn’t talk about just the future, we’ve spoken about the whole season. He is our captain and it is not just about what we want to do.
”It’s been a different season for him, he hasn’t played as much as in the last 11 years. But his behaviour as captain has been really good. He understood his different role.
“The competition has been really tough and the others have had fantastic seasons. He understand and helped his team-mates. His behaviour during the week was really good. When his team-mates need him, he was there.
”He is everything you expect from a fantastic professional and a good captain.”
Regarding the substitution itself -
“When I took that decision, it is nothing to do with whether he will be here next season or not.
“If I had one more substitution, I’d have brought on him and Leighton (Baines).
“I know the atmosphere in that moment was really good. I know the reception to him would be fantastic, like it was. It is everything he deserves really.”
The defensive corps on the squad seems decidedly packed, especially if the Blues can make the Kurt Zouma loan from Chelsea permanent, with Yerry Mina and Mason Holgate waiting in the wings to join Michael Keane in the first team. Under-23 captain Morgan Feeney is also knocking on the door, so Silva will have some big decisions to make if he wants to go into the new season with five or six centrehalves.