Old heads vital to steer young players
Phil Jagielka believes an injection of youth has helped bolster the impressive start to Roberto Martinez’s reign as Everton FC manager.
But the Goodison skipper insists the squad’s older generation still has an important role to play in continuing their unbeaten opening to the Premier League campaign.
Martinez’s side can move alongside leaders Arsenal with victory at Manchester City on Saturday having earned a thrilling 3-2 win at Newcastle United on Monday night.
On-loan Romelu Lukaku, 20, scored twice and 19-year-old Ross Barkley netted the first Goodison goal of his career, while 22-year-old James McCarthy started his first league match since his move from Wigan and teenage duo Gerard Deulofeu and John Stones emerged as second-half substitutes.
And although pleased Martinez has addressed the long-standing problem of an ageing squad, 31-year-old Jagielka has highlighted the need for experience within the team.
“We have spent well and brought in players well, and it was important that that was largely put into young players,” said the England international.
“Ross has needed time to bed in and a lot was expected of him, and still is.
“It’s important to have that youth bedding in, but we’ve still got a few old guys like myself in the team playing most weeks. That’s important.
“Gerry (Deulofeu) came on and John Stones as well against Newcastle. It’s looking healthy in terms of the youth end of the spectrum and the manager is doing well by bringing them in slowly.”
Jagielka, though, admits building for the future does not come cheap, and said: “To have bought Rom it would have been a hell of a lot of money, James was decent whack and Ross came through the youth team, so that helps.
“We haven’t been blessed by an awful lot of cash in the past although the Fellaini deal going through has freed up some money.”
Everton earned a host of plaudits for their first-half performance on Monday in which they stormed into a three-goal lead and subsequently held off a belated Newcastle comeback.
“We’re still knitting the squad together and when you look at the team against Newcastle, it’s quite a different way of playing now,” added Jagielka.
“The team’s a bit different, a bit newer and fresher. Hands up to the attacking players on Monday, they were a real handful, especially on the counter attack.
“(Kevin) Mirallas, Rom, Ross again... it’s nice to have that firepower. Obviously we’re a bit gutted to concede two in the second half, though.”
Martinez will have to change a winning formula as he seeks a fourth successive Premier League win this weekend at City with on-loan Gareth Barry ineligible to play against his parent club. Deulofeu, on loan from Barcelona, is moving nearer a first top-flight start having come off the bench in three of Everton’s last four league games.
And Martinez said: “Every week he is getting stronger. He is the sort of player that can win you games.
“He is still learning the differences of the two leagues and that is understandable – it is going to take time and we need to give him that time – but I am very pleased with his attitude and the way he takes opportunities every time he is on the pitch.
“I will need to keep thinking about when to allow him to be on the pitch but I’m very excited by his talent and his potential to win games for Everton.”