One of the positions in our team for which there is general consensus we need to strengthen, is at centre back (CB). Towards the end of the season we found a defensive stability in Koscielny and Mertesacker that hasn’t been seen since Keown and Campbell were shutting out opposition strikers back in the early 2000’s.
These two – Kos and Per – formed a defensive partnership that saw us finish the league as the third best team in the league defensively. All I can say about this, is whatever Steve Bould is doing is working wonders. It’s never easy to come in and teach the same set of players new tactics – especially in one season – and expect to see such progress, but he has pulled it off.
However, Thomas Vermaelen, our club captain, had a torrid season by his extremely high standards. Mistakes plagued his game, and at some point, I couldn’t even recognize the player who barely a year before was the obvious successor to RVP.
That said though, we know how good he is and therefore any calls for him to be moved on are seriously myopic. Then we have Squillaci, who all I’m going to say about him is, thank God he has been moved on. Our final two CBs are Djourou and Miquel. Djourou was loaned to the Bundesliga, and quite honestly, I’d rather he stays there permanently. Miguel is talented but still too young and raw to be promoted to the first team.
This means that we have three functional centre backs. Everyone knows that every top team especially in the EPL needs a minimum of 4 good defenders. This is why we have been linked with a host of defender such as Adil Rami, Matts Hummels, Ashley Williams, Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Martin Skrtel, among others.
I would, however, like to throw a certain defender’s name in the ring; Phil Jagielka.
Jagielka is a 30 year old CB who captains Everton and plays for the English national team. About 3 years ago we were strongly chasing him, but the then Everton manager David Moyes, refused to fold. For me, he ticks all the boxes. He is tall (good in the air), strong, experienced, has a fantastic mentality, a tough but fair tackler, a leader and a fantastic reader of the game. Also for a 30 year old, he is extremely athletic and is in the prime of his abilities. In my opinion, compared to all the players we have been linked with, save for maybe Hummels, he is a far superior option.
I watched him ever since he shut Man Utd out on their opening game, and I must say I am outraged that Rio Ferdinand was awarded a spot in the team of the season, ahead of him. Jagielka was absolutely solid all season and a very big factor why Everton have performed the way they have in the past few seasons. Plus, his consistency is amazing. I watched about 26 Everton games last season and he did not have a single bad game. Not even one. In fact, the more I watched Everton play, the more I wondered why he is not plying his trade in a top four team, because he certainly has the ability. Even when he dons the three lions jersey, his class is there for all to see.
Like I said earlier, Per and Kos have formed a fantastic partnership. This is largely attributed to the fact that the two complement each other. Kos athleticism, tackling, ball playing skills and all round charisma is complemented by Per’s composure, reading of the game and aerial ability. Even by Arsene’s admission, Per is not the tidiest of players nor the best, but he gets the job done. Please note that I am not by any means downplaying his abilities or contribution to the team.
Jagielka performs the same function for Everton except he IS a very good player. He is faster, a better tackler, more energetic, and despite Per’s height advantage, is very good in the air. This is evidenced by the number of goals he scores with his head and the number of aerial clearances he makes. He is also a much more physical player. When you compare Jagielka and Mertesacker, the former comes out on top in my opinion. For me, he would represent a significant upgrade to Per and would form an even meaner defence alongside Kos. He would also push the level of competition for places in that back line up a notch.
I couldn’t tell you how much he would cost if we went in for him, or even if he would be interested in joining us, but with Moyes and probably a few key players leaving, you never know. Plus with the current building we are doing, our strong finances and champions league football, we would have a very strong hand at the negotiation table.
I’d like to repeat that this is all my opinion. I feel Jagielka is the kind of player who would form a title winning defence, and we should really consider taking advantage of Everton’s period of transition, and snap him up.
Written by: Marcus
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