It is no secret that Everton have struggled in their 2017/2018 campaign, securing a measly 8 points in 8 games, often looking woeful in attack and inept in the back, with a repugnant -8 GD. Inside the team’s many issues, including the lack of pace and width, a true striker up top, and a manager who seems incapable of fielding a team that plays to the strength of the roster, there seems to be no concrete solution to a team looking out of its depth against even the worst of the quality in the Premier league, including Sunday’s shocking performance against Brighton, and an uninspired loss at Goodison to Burnley before the international break. While times are tough inside the club there is surely enough time to right the ship with the proper leadership, and where Wayne Rooney has looked out of his depth up top, there is a steadying presence inside the club that needs to be a staple in the Everton starting 11.
Enter Phil Jagielka, the 35 year old English national, who has been a mainstay at center back for Everton. Since the 2007 season Phil has notched 295 caps, and has become beloved by the Everton faithful, if not for memorable moments such as is stunner in the 2014 Merseyside Derby against Liverpool that made heads roll and fans rejoiced at Anfield. This season has not been joyous however, and a porous back line has often amplified the woes of the attack. Ashley Williams has been dreadful, with successful tackle rate 22 (!!)percent below Jagielka’s, (89% as compared to 67%,) Costing Everton key points at Man City and seemingly looking like a Championship caliber talent. With only one clean sheet on the year for the Toffees in the Prem, an anchor in the back like Jagielka would assuredly give the Blues the vocal leader they need.
However, it is no secret that Everton have so sorely lacked pace and width, causing many to call for a change in the lineup. And while the 35 year old English National is crafty and still one of the best tacklers among center backs in the Premier League, he lacks the pace he once had and although very capable off set pieces, provides question marks about what he brings into the side. With the absence of 2 very skilled defenders in Seamus Coleman and Funes Mori the question remains, should Phil Jagielka be in the starting lineup as long as he is fit? The answer to that question is yes, until Funes Mori and Seamus return and can bring much needed pace and width to a side that has looked anything but quality in attack or defense.
Through 8 games the Blues have lacked a confidence to win games, and if Ronald Koeman doesn’t make the proper changes, and toy with a lineup that has looked disinterested week in and week out, it could mean the end of Koeman’s tenure as the boss of Everton FC, and Jagielka could provide a leadership spark to motivate the Blues through to crucial results in the upcoming fixtures against teams like Arsenal and Lyon, Come on you blues!
-Jacob ( @ritchiejacob625 )