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By Ben Howard :  01/02/2008 :  Comments (22) :
Much has been said about Carsley and the professional, no-nonsense approach he has to the game. However, I wanted to speak of another of our 'unsung' heroes.

Phil Jagielka came to us last summer and I can't believe it was a transfer that got many Evertonian's hearts a flutter. Subsequently, missing out on Manny, Gonzales and other 'fashionable' targets seemed to confound some of our disappointment. Upon arrival he was touted as a utility player, a term which always raises eyebrows due to it somehow suggesting that he's a jack of all trades and a master of none.

Within a few weeks we were seeing him in central midfield and he looked woefully short of talent and, more importantly, confidence. A few games at right back showed that he was most definitely a defender, albeit 3rd choice behind the improving Neville and (crowd favourite!) Hibbert, but a defender all the same.

With Lescott's improving performances at left back Stubbsy was brought in for a few games at centre half alongside Yobo. However with his injury and Yobo's call up to the AFCON Jags finally got his chance in his favoured position... and how he has shone!

Now, Lescott is one hell of a player and has obviously had something to do with the immediate understanding and partnership that has developed, but I was amazed at how quickly Jags has settled down in the role. He suddenly looks comfortable and confident. He reminds me of a young Stubbsy, with his excellent reading of the game, but with more pace. Not as quick as Yobo but I also remember how long it took him to eradicate silly mistakes from his game.

With Yobo to come back and Gardner coming in we're suddenly looking really healthy in defence. We haven't seen enough of a Yobo and Jags partnership yet, which would allow Lescott to play at left back and bomb down the wings too.

I can't really see Gardner getting a game unless we're hit with an injury crisis but I'm more than happy with him as a squad player.

I don't think any of us expected much activity in the transfer window but the more I look at it it the more positive I am. Gosling, Manny and Gardner in - McFadden, Stubbs and Anderson da Silva out (+about £6m I reckon).

It's good to be Blue!

Reader Comments

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John Keller
1   Posted 01/02/2008 at 15:35:56

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I agree, Jags has been great. I wouldn?t like to be DM when Yobo gets back, decisions,decisions. Can anyone believe the potential that we have at our club now? I know the cup comps were a let-down but I'll settle for 4th now.
Neville Jags Yobo Lescott
Arteta Osman Manny Pienaar
Cahill Yakubu....
Ben Howard
2   Posted 01/02/2008 at 16:04:41

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Ha ha... You try putting that team out John! ;-)
I admire your enthusiasm though mate!

John Ballinger
3   Posted 01/02/2008 at 16:07:10

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I like the look of your lineup John Keller. Only problem is I’m not sure the FA would allow us to play a 4-1-4-2 formation :-)
John Ballinger
4   Posted 01/02/2008 at 16:07:10

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I like the look of your lineup John Keller. Only problem is I’m not sure the FA would allow us to play a 4-1-4-2 formation :-)
Tom Campbell
5   Posted 01/02/2008 at 16:47:28

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Do i need glasses or did John Keller have 12 men in his team??
John Maxwell
6   Posted 01/02/2008 at 16:55:15

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Good spot Tom.. hahaha.

Lets see if the Premier League notice..

Nothing like having that 12th man.
Phil Pollock
7   Posted 01/02/2008 at 16:59:18

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I agree - Jags has really done well since his first game at CB (remember the Arsenal game...). I think we have developed a fairly formidable team and of course don’t forget that we still have Baines as well!!
Paul Lenehan
8   Posted 01/02/2008 at 17:19:09

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I still think we should try the 4142 formation. Do you think anybody would notice?
Tony Williams
9   Posted 01/02/2008 at 17:21:45

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Deffinitely formidable if we are allowed John’s extra man....
Thor Erling
10   Posted 01/02/2008 at 17:24:10

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No, no-one will notice. As long as we play Johnson up front in stead of Yakubu, that is, Carsley and Johnson will appear to be the same player. ;-)
Ben Howard
11   Posted 01/02/2008 at 17:26:58

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Give Manny a few games first to get match fit and then I reckon we could play John’s team (minus Carsley) at home. 4-4-2 and I’d like to see Vaughan in for Cahill too.
Alan Kirwin
12   Posted 01/02/2008 at 17:38:33

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I agree with Ben Howard, but possibly switching Jags to RB for Phil Neville, Jolean in the middle and LB at LB.

I honestly can’t wait to get the Yak back because it looks increasingly certain that AJ just can’t do it well enough. I would definitely play James Vaughan right now.

When we think back to those West Ham rumours of a £12m bid...sweey jesus! We should try to cash in on AJ asap, possibly for Kenwyne Jones (great buy if Blunderland go down).
Ed Casey
13   Posted 01/02/2008 at 17:58:38

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Also agree with previous comment - I’d hope to see Baines make left back his own, as he has shown some flashes of quality since he arrived but had too much time out of the team to really shine and show what hes all about. That would put Jags in an unusual position as you can’t split up Lescott and Yobo when they’re on form. I doubt the gaffer would drop Neville and if he did right back would be Hibbos. So, where does that leave him? Hopefully he will be the long term replacement for Lee Carsley. After early season jitters I think Jags could adapt to that defensive midfield position and really make it his own. I thought he was shite earlier in the season but hes doing it on the pitch now and before long he’ll be the player we expect him to be!
Lee Spargo
14   Posted 01/02/2008 at 19:10:07

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I agree with some of what ou say, Ben, but I also agree with Alan and Ed - Lescott @ CB and Baines @ LB should be our first choice.
Craig Kersey
15   Posted 01/02/2008 at 20:35:17

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The last time I suggested this I was accused of trying to destroy a world class centre back. I still believe it might just create a world class holding midfielder, so here goes again.

During his first few appearances at Goodison what most impressed about Lescott was his reading of the game. It created time on the ball for him and, with hindsight, probably masked the natural pace that was to appear when he filled in at left back. Less than two seasons later we all know there is a lot more to his game.

We’ve seen the devastation he can cause and goals he can get going forwards, not only from set pieces in the box but also turning defence into attack from left back or centre back. I can’t help but wonder how much more he could do sitting in front of the back four as a replacement for Carsley.

Sat a bit further forward, his ability to read the game would help turn defence into attack. His own pace combined with that we can now deploy in front of him could create devastating breaks. He would also add some much needed height in midfield and take pressure off the back four.

When Yobo returns, with Gardner and Jags we can perm two good central defenders from three even without Lescott. Why not try Lescott in midfield for a few games?
John Ferguson
16   Posted 01/02/2008 at 21:49:30

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Agree... and it’s far better reading this than the Marsh bile and negativity...
17   Posted 01/02/2008 at 22:20:45

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Why do we berate Carsley.

His reading of the game is far better than Joleon who is prone to lapses of concentration.His strength is his physique and athleticism.
Also Jags strength is his one on one marking - HE IS NOT A MF player!!!
I would say let Joey fight for his place back and go with
Nev Jags Lescott Baines
Carsley Fernandes
Arteta Osman Pienaar
Cahill to fluctuate with Ossie for the Support role.
Yobo to fill in for Jags/Lescott
George Tranter
18   Posted 01/02/2008 at 21:44:08

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Don’t agree at all.Jags is average at best and nobody has seen enough of Sicknote Baines to pass opinion! Moyes has done nothing in the window to re-inforce the squad and I can see only pain and sorrow until we’re back at full strength.
Steve Ryan
19   Posted 02/02/2008 at 00:59:28

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How can you say Jags is the third choice right back? On the two occassions I recall him playing in that position at Bolton and Derby he was superb and was involved in the build up to goals in both games. With Yobo returning shortly, Jags should slot into the right back position as his height, athletiscism and defensive qualities make him another Gary Stevens in the making.
Derek Thomas
20   Posted 02/02/2008 at 03:02:47

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When we signed Jagielka the Sheff U. ppl said he was a CB cum RB.

Lescott has turned into CB cum LB, add in Yobo and Gardener, who, unless he turns into a Koldrup and given Davey’s habit of ’ try before you buy’ will be here next season, more likely than not. This gives us...
A) a back 3 of Jag, Yobo, Lescott....With any 2 from 3 of Pinnear and Baines and A.N. Other as wingbacks. Another string to the formation bow of 442, 41311
John Andrews
21   Posted 02/02/2008 at 07:11:11

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I tend to agree with George. Although Jagielka has done a job in Yobos absence he does appear to be an exponent of the dreaded Hoofball.
Gareth Cooper
22   Posted 02/02/2008 at 09:33:04

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I like jags but think he is back up for yobo and lescott at CB. At a push, when really short RB cover. He is no midfielder I’m afraid!

What worries me slightly in this thread is the number of people trying to move Jolson from CB! He is the form CB in the league at the mo, and clearly its his prefered position. If we start moving round our best players to plug our holes, we’ll leave gaps where we are strong.

If he continues to shipped around the park he might just get pissed off and go to Man U!!!

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