The skipper's departure means that Everton are left another leader short in a squad that Marcel Brands and Marcel Silva want to mould into a young side
When David Moyes left Everton for Manchester United during the summer of 2013, the footballing world remarked on how rare a tenure of 11 years was in the modern game. As captain Phil Jagielka bows out of the club he has served for 12 years, fans know we may not see a servant like Jags for a long time to come.
At the end of the ill-fated ‘Allardyce era’, fans and pundits alike remarked on Everton’s desperate need for leaders. Despite an impressive first season for Marcel Brands's and Marco Silva’s transfers, we are still crying out for a footballer that can grab games by the scruff of the neck, organise players around them, and secure us 3 points on a regular basis.
We need to look no further than Jagielka’s Arsenal performance in April to understand what we need in our XI. Despite being told 20 mins before kick-off he was playing, Jag’s footballing intelligence was the difference on the day. Securing the 3 points against a ‘top six’ side for only the second time in 45 games, lest we forget he ensured the clean sheet. Phil Jagielka’s Everton career will be remembered through moments of leadership like this, the winning penalty in 2009’s FA Cup Semi-Final against Manchester United or his unstoppable rocket in 2014’s derby in front of the Kop.
While Blues might be misty-eyed over losing a servant of 12 years, at 36, most will understand the time is right. Fans have said they hope a testimonial can be played with whichever club he ends up at; some have been dismayed at the way the club handled his departure, the announcement coming from Jags's personal social media accounts.
Its been hard to confirm my situation for next season as that decision hadn’t been fully made by the club until now, unfortunately my journey at Everton has come to an end after 12 fantastic seasons, I have been lucky enough to play over 380 games and lucky enough to be club captain.pic.twitter.com/APFP1eGIbx— Phil Jagielka (@PJags06) June 4, 2019
Sky’s Alan Myers has reported that a 1-year extension is to be signed by fellow club stalwart Leighton Baines in the coming days and, while we still have two captains in Baines and Donegal-born Seamus Coleman, neither could be predicted to be regular starters over the next two seasons.
Leighton Baines has been offered a one-year extension by Everton and is expected to sign the contract next week.— Alan Myers (@ALANMYERSMEDIA) June 5, 2019
Baines, despite being widely recognised as one of the greatest left-backs of the Premier League era, has been dislodged from Silva’s team sheet by the players' and fans' player of the year, Lucas Digne. Coleman, albeit coming back into form towards the end of the season, was seen as the weak link in our mid-season slump. Whilst demonstrating strong leadership for Ireland for a number of years and wearing the captain’s armband for Everton last season, the likelihood that Silva and Brands will bring in a right-back to challenge Seamus for his spot means we run the risk of losing another leader on the pitch throughout next season.
Blues don’t need to be reminded of how important this transfer window is. Brands will be doing all he can to guarantee that the large number of players leaving the club are replaced by quality signings. In terms of leaders, we’ve had a number of false dawns since Martinez’s first season in which players like Tim Howard and Gareth Barry, along with Baines and Jags, ruled the roost on the pitch. Wayne Rooney, Davey Klaassen and Ashley Williams, players that don’t truly deserve to be in the same category but for one reason or another were not the leaders we needed.
Can players like the rejuvenated Micheal Keane, Gylfi Sigurdsson or England’s number one, Jordan Pickford, step up to the plate next season and start pointing fingers? Gylfi is described as our footballing brain, the puppet master of our play and the link between front and back. The Icelandic international led out the team on a number of occasions this past season but was not the vocal, aggressive leader we expect or indeed need to organise what will expectedly become a more youthful team over time. Similarly, while Keane’s ability went from strength to strength in the back line last season, is he a leader?
Arguably, Jordan has been the most vocal, demanding and accomplished member of the squad in the last few seasons. For his national and club sides, he’s shown a determined organisation at the back, not afraid to hold players older or more established than him to account. However, Blues won’t need reminding of his antics at Newcastle away in March or even his off-the-field shenanigans in Sunderland, again showing the characteristics of a leader?
These are judgment calls for Marcel Brands and Marco Silva to make about current squad players, but they can be under no illusions that with Jagielka’s departure we are left another leader short in a squad they both want to mould into a young side. If we look for evidence of progress and astute player transfers, we need to look no further than Ross Barkley's and John Stones's performances for England in the Uefa Nations League Semi-Final loss to Koeman’s Dutch side. Gylfi Sigurdsson and Micheal Keane have shown leadership qualities this season that we may have never seen from Ross or John in Royal Blue shirts.