It may seem strange to outsiders but of all the signings to arrive at Everton in the transfer window, it was two centre-backs who were the most anticipated.
While Brazilian pair Richarlison and Bernard added much-needed firepower and creativity to a front line that was lacking in both last season, and Lucas Digne answers a question over who will replace Leighton Baines, it was Kurt Zouma and Yerry Mina who were most needed.
Last season proved that the Blues defence was in need of drastic change, particularly in central defence. Michael Keane arrived in a big money move after impressing under Sean Dyche at Burnley. Continue reading
Everton were decent throughout the season as the club took its first step in to the new era under the new owner and the new manager. Continue reading
England manager Roy Hodgson announced the national team squad for the Three Lions’ upcoming internationals against Italy (friendly) and Lithuania (Euro 2016 qualifier), and Everton defender Phil Jagielka remains in his thoughts. The veteran centre-back has been playing alongside Chelsea’s Gary Cahill at the heart of the defence, but his club form has been so woeful that Hodgson will be considering alternate options for the worst-case scenario.
Jagileka was particular poor in Everton’s recent humiliating Europa League defeat to Dynamo Kiev, which saw the Toffees lose 5-2 in the last-16 second leg, eliminating them from the competition without so much as a whimper. The 32-year-old had a torrid time against the Ukrainian Premier League leaders, which caps a miserable season too.
“A couple of times we made defensive mistakes. It was the kind of night where everything they tried went into the back of the net. I agree there were instances when we could have defended better but I think it is a case of the whole team not defending well enough. I don’t think it was a case of the personnel,” said Everton manager Roberto Martinez following exit to Kiev.
The England international has been at the heart of an Everton defence that have conceded 41 goals in 29 games – two more than they shipped after a 38-game season in 2013/14. It’s a real worry on the international stage, as England have to be thinking ahead for their Euro 2016 tournament to come next year. Does Hodgson have a big decision to make about Jagielka?
In the current England squad, the manager has Phil Jones (Man Utd) and Chris Smalling (Man Utd) to choose from in the side, and could well be considering one of the young defensive duo as Jagielka looks a considerable distance away from a player capable of playing the world’s best in the European Championships.
The Everton defender is vastly experienced domestically and internationally, but he’s hit a real slum in form that will lead Hodgson to make a decision about his future. The England boss can’t wait and see what happens over the next 12 months, and he will need to afford a good amount of time for a player breaking into the first-tam to get used to England’s style and his manager’s instructions. Few would be surprised if Hodgson mixed it up at the back in their friendly against Italy, in an attempt to see who could replace the 32-year-old for the long-term.
Is Phil Jagielka good enough for England?