Midfielder's fearless nature not allied with growing maturity
Phil Jagielka believes Ross Barkley has become “more of a man” after the Everton youngster stole the show on new manager Roberto Martinez’s first competitive game in charge.
Barkley capped a man-of-the-match display with a thunderous first-ever senior goal for the club as the Goodison outfit opened their Premier League campaign with a 2-2 draw at Norwich City on Saturday.
The 19-year-old impressed sufficiently during pre-season to be handed only a fifth top-flight start in place of the injured Darron Gibson.
And Everton skipper Jagielka believes the midfielder, who starred for England under-21s in their 6-0 romp against Scotland last week, is now demonstrating the maturity to make the Premier League grade.
“Ross went on loan last season to get a bit of experience and has come back a bit more grown up, he's a bit more of a man now,” said Jagielka.
“He was perhaps playing too much like a boy before, enjoying himself too much but he has come on this season.
“He played well for the U21s, scored a good goal and he got an even better one on Saturday.
“Ross has always been fearless, it has been his strength but sometimes his weakness, as sometimes being fearless on the edge of our box is not the best place to do that.
“He is thinking more like a professional footballer now instead of a kid just having a good time. He is also a fantastic lad.
“He is always trying and out there practicing and if he keeps going in the right direction, hopefully we will have quite a player.”
Seamus Coleman, who laid on Barkley’s goal before netting himself at Carrow Road, also believes his young team-mate can have a major impact this season.
However, the Republic of Ireland international was careful not to place too much expectation on Barkley’s shoulders.
“He's a top player and he was delighted to get the nod from the start,” said Coleman. “He's a great lad and I was delighted for him to score that goal.
“He's a strong boy, he likes to get on the ball, he's naturally two-footed – you could see by his goal, it was fantastic.
“He brings a lot to our team and hopefully now he can have a good season.
“I'm not going to put any pressure on him he's a young lad who's just played his first game of the season and scored his first goal.
“Get his head down and play football is the kind of lad he is, he can have a great season.”
Everton had fallen behind against the run of play to Steven Whittaker’s 51st-minute goal until Barkley and Coleman – with only his second goal since March 2011 – struck inside four minutes to put Martinez’s men on course for victory.
However, a header from Norwich debutant Ricky van Wolfswinkel 19 minutes from time denied the Spaniard a winning start from an entertaining encounter.
Jagielka admits it will inevitably take time to embrace the methods of Martinez given his predecessor David Moyes was in charge for more than a decade.
But he believes there were plenty of positive signs at the weekend.
“I don't know how patient they will have to be as we played quite well except for the goals we unfortunately conceded,” added Jagielka.
“We will take our time after having the same manager for 10 years it is not easy to change and go straight into a new style of play.
“The fans do need to be patient but at the same time we don't want to make them not enjoy coming to watch.”