Jagielka reveals the small tweaks behind Everton's tighter back line

, 27 September, 25comments  |  Jump to most recent

Phil Jagielka has explained how the adjustments made by Ronald Koeman have made the Blues' defence less vulnerable than it was last season .

The Dutchman has focused on tightening up a defence which conceded 12 goals in the final six Premier League matches of last season but which has let in only four in the same number of games to start 2016-17.

The club captain provides some specifics in an interview for the Liverpool Echo, especially with regard to the fullbacks and the responsibilities of the defensive central midfielders in front of the centre-halves.

“Game to game it slightly differs but in terms of starting positions, the full-backs are nowhere near as high as they would have been, when we have got the ball,” Jagielka said, comparing Everton under Koeman to his predecessor, Roberto Martinez. “I feel like we are, probably, in better defensive positions to defend.

“If you want the left-back to go that little bit higher and tighter quicker, or the left winger, then you need to be pulling the right-back further round, so we are shortening the gaps between the defensive unit where, previously, we may have wanted to shorten the gaps but the gaps were potentially bigger because of the more expansive football we were looking to play.

“So there have been little tweaks and aspects and it depends if the manager wants Gaz (Barry) on his own in front of us or Gana (Gueye) as well, or whether he gives Gana that licence to hunt people down, which we know he has done really well so far.”

“If Bainesy goes to press and is beaten, slips or whatever, he knows that Ash, for instance, is close enough to him, Gaz is close enough to him, I'm close enough to Gaz and Seamus is close enough to me,” Jagielka continued.

“It's a knock-on effect and previously we were almost left, not isolated, but that bit more isolated."

The team's adaptation to the new methods haven't been seamless, as Bournemouth's goal in last Saturday's defeat on the south coast illustrated, the culmination of what the skipper described as "a comedy of errors. "Where we should have pressed, we didn't. And when we shouldn't have pressed, we did."

“We've seen the video and it's only little tweaks (that are needed),” added Jagielka who will lead the team out under the Goodison lights on Friday night against Crystal Palace where they will bid to not only atone for the loss at Dean Court but also address their poor recent home record against the Eagles who have won two and drawn one on their last three visits to Everton.

Full interview at Liverpool Echo

Reader Comments (25)

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Ralph Basnett
1 Posted 29/09/2016 at 12:03:24
Yeah great Jags, I wish you would talk this much on the pitch and we wouldn't be leaking so many goals!!!!!!
Sean Kelly
2 Posted 29/09/2016 at 12:06:16
This defending in unison lark might catch on. Jeez wept. Every pub team and non-league team up and down this country have been doing it for years. It's called communication, you dope. Why does he need a manager to tell him this?
Ben Mackenzie
3 Posted 29/09/2016 at 12:20:04
Ridiculous comment, Ralph. We were leaking too many goals last season. Have you not been paying attention this season.

Some people just can't help themselves get off of planet negative.

Ste Traverse
4 Posted 29/09/2016 at 12:39:12
Totally agree with Ben above. Stupid comments from Ralph.

4 conceded in 6 games is hardly 'leaking so many goals'.

Chris Keightley
5 Posted 29/09/2016 at 12:56:33
It makes sense what he is saying but a good defensive coach could have seen this from last season and the season before. Defensive solidity was replaced with tippy-tappy expansive play that, in my opinion, made our back line look a lot worse than it was and eventually this affected the whole mindset of the team.

It's refreshing to hear that Koeman, an outstanding defender himself, has established this new defensive organisation early in his tenure... just a shame that the front five are misfiring at such an alarming rate that each game it appears in on a knife edge.

Senior players like Mirallas, Lennon et al should have been stepping up to levels more consistent by now... it's too early for Bolasie and Valencia to be targetted as the people misfiring, as I continually read on here!!

Winston Williamson
6 Posted 29/09/2016 at 13:01:15
We have looked so much more assured defensively so far this season. Still room to improve, but what can we reasonably expect after 8 games?

Williams provides a wealth of experience and Gana is more mobile and hungry than other midfielders we had. It's offensively where we are short and a creative diamond in midfield (again offensively).

Overall, I'm please with the progress made so far this season – if it continues we will be fine. Although, there are several players not up to playing for a club like EFC on our books at the moment.

Jay Wood
7 Posted 29/09/2016 at 13:34:15
Ralph, on another thread you describe yourself as:

"unfortunately my arse is bigger than my mouth!"

Which are you talking out of at 1?

If you had taken the time to actually read the interview you might have found it revealing and reassuring. It describes in detail how our obvious defensive improvement under Koeman is by design, not accident, whilst also detailing what was apparent to many over the past 2 seasons, that defence was seriously neglected under Martinez.

You might also have taken into account how our previously porous defence is this season one of the meanest, with just 4 goals conceded and a league high of a paltry 12 shots on target on our goal IN TOTAL across our 6 PL games to date.

Far, far from your knee-jerk claim that we're "leaking so many goals!."

Peter Cummings
8 Posted 29/09/2016 at 13:37:07
As you say, Winston, the problem isn't the defensive capability that needs addressing but the offensive problems which, if we are to make any headway, must be urgently attended to.

We seem unable to solve the problems posed by the now increasing use by the opposition of 'defence in depth' to frustrate and nullify any attacking ambitions we might have... and, even when we do create a scoring chance, as we did last week, we never seem able to cash in.

Daniel Lim
9 Posted 29/09/2016 at 13:43:24
I guess Ralph was saying Jags not being vocal enough during matches last season, and not a leader on the pitch, thus many goals conceded, and he needs to take the blame as a skipper.

Well, just my guess. I didn't get to watch many matches last season, and zero this season so far, but remember many people here not happy with Jags as he's too quiet a skipper.

Tony Abrahams
10 Posted 29/09/2016 at 14:10:11
I also haven't read Jagielka's article, but I have read the above article written by Lyndon though.

I suppose there is not much to be gained from slagging off the previous regime, but Jagielka is simply too nice.

It's a knock-on effect, and previously we might have been left not isolated, but that bit more isolated?

Little tweaks? I can't wait for Koeman to really change something!

Ernie Baywood
11 Posted 29/09/2016 at 14:54:31
This just highlights some of the problems under Martinez. So many times our full backs were pushed high and we were left with defenders one-on-one with forwards. I recall, I think it was Costa, being played in with a long hoof that put Jags in all sorts of bother. Jags didn't deal with it and we got punished.

We kept reading that it was individual errors, without acknowledging that we put players in positions where the slightest error resulted in a goal.

These are real basics. Defend as a team. Fill in spaces and support the guy next to you.

Most of us could see this; I'll never understand how Roberto couldn't.

Ralph Basnett
12 Posted 29/09/2016 at 14:54:51
Thank you Daniel, someone who understands!!!!

Read the article, anyone can talk a good game (except me apparently), but these are professional sportsmen and I would much rather they spend time on improving than talking about how they are going to improve!!!

Ben, this is Everton, show me some positivity, I will be positive – Norwich and the mighty Bournemouth!!!

Not missed a game so have seen as much as you!! My comments are on our defence as a whole, you and Ste are more than naive if you think that 4 in 6 games is anything to shout about – this time last year we had conceded 5!!!!!!!

Oooh our defence are doing well.

My comments are on our defencive unit overall and not just in your golden dawn that is 2016-17!!!!!!!

Dave Abrahams
13 Posted 29/09/2016 at 15:21:26
Chris. (5) I have got to defend Lennon (again), he hasn't really had a look in this season. You have to earn the right to play expansive football, you need a fighter from the start. With Mirallas, Bolasie and Barkley starting, there is no-one up front to harass and tackle. The three mentioned, along with Lukaku, keep losing the ball and putting the midfielders out of position.

I hope Lennon starts on Friday instead of Mirallas; Lennon will work his socks off, something the other forwards don't do.

Chris Keightley
14 Posted 29/09/2016 at 15:28:28
Dave, the reason I mention Lennon is that he is a senior player who clearly is not doing enough in training to get a look-in. With the form of Deulofeu and Mirallas questionable, why is Lennon not stepping up?? If you say that he works his socks off??

4 goals conceded is not bad after six games but I expected more end product than we have seen in the attacking third. It's great we have tightened up but, if you don't score, then, as I mentioned, each game feels closer than it should be. Bolasie will come good and I'm sure Enner Valencia wasn't pot luck, he will bring something to the team by season's end!!!

Steavey Buckley
15 Posted 29/09/2016 at 15:31:01
Ummmmmmm. To be fair, this season, Everton have only played one game against real opposition, when Spurs had an off-day.

The same frailties in the defence still exist, because Everton don't defend as a team and the back 4 don't push up towards the half-way line to press the opposition's attackers. The goal that Everton conceded last Saturday against Bournemouth proves that point.

Worse still, the Everton defence are still reliant on Barry, who is 36 years of age next birthday.

Shane Corcoran
16 Posted 29/09/2016 at 15:33:26
It would appear from recent articles on ToffeeWeb that it would be better if the players refused all approaches from the media.

They have a solid answer for such requests though; they need to do less talking and more playing. Do their talking on the pitch so to speak.

Meanwhile, we can satisfy ourselves with monthly rumours such as the imminent capture of Troy Deeney.

Brent Stephens
17 Posted 29/09/2016 at 15:56:27
Ernie #11 "So many times our full backs were pushed high and we were left with defenders one-on-one with forwards...We kept reading that it was individual errors, without acknowledging that we put players in positions where the slightest error resulted in a goal."

I think that last comment is a really good observation, Ernie. How hard it must have been for those lads to know that they were leaking goals, and always likely to because they had to follow orders; and to top it all, to hear the fans slagging off individual players.

Pity we're still "leaking so many goals" still.

Alan J Thompson
18 Posted 29/09/2016 at 15:57:25
It seemed to me that Bournemouth's goal came about as Jagielka went across to help the right back (Coleman), Williams got pulled further across, Oviedo failed to move across and Barry left the goal scorer to also help out on the right. I don't know if that is part of the plan but it appears to me that one of the central defenders has to stay central and as well as the defensive midfielders somebody has to be tracking back. Bournemouth were always going to have the man loose in the middle or the man Oviedo stayed wide for free on the back post.

Not simple these plans but the upshot seems to be more effort from all midfielders when the opposition are doing well in wide positions. After all, it is from there they will want to find somebody in the middle.

Patrick Murphy
19 Posted 29/09/2016 at 16:13:03
We've only played one real team this season, hmmmmm how's that work then? I know what you mean, but the sooner Evertonians realise that NO team in the top-flight is a gimme, the better. Some fans rock up to Goodison expecting Everton to sweep all before them unless of course it's either a 'new' elite club or a club that has been a 'great' club in the past.

Every team has to be outplayed and outfought in order for Everton to be successful and, if we don't play well or battle for every ball, we see what happens for example Norwich City and Bournemouth.

Steavey Buckley
20 Posted 29/09/2016 at 16:46:46
Patrick Murphy: Bournemouth were well beaten the previous week against Man City, 4-0, so no upset there against a top-flight team.

The better teams do have extra qualities lesser teams do not possess. That's why they are prepared to pay the huge transfers and salaries. Everton's transfers were a net again. So much for the extra £100 million which was promised – no extra top centre-half, midfield player and striker. Yet, there was a record amount of season tickets sold on that belief.

Patrick Murphy
21 Posted 29/09/2016 at 17:24:48
Steavey (20) I don't remember any member of Everton's staff promising any such thing, it was a made up figure peddled by the press, and if the fans who bought ST's based it on all of the rumours in the media, they are likely to be hugely disappointed.

I'm not saying that the transfer funds were adequate – because they weren't – but we have what we have until next August probably and those fans, if they were 'misled' will be able to decide what to do with their money when renewal time comes up.

Jim Burns
22 Posted 29/09/2016 at 17:37:03
FFS – some of us need to give it a rest!

We are a handful of games into a new era – never mind season – and we are 5th with a housefly's dick between us and the rest of the top positions apart from Man City – who themselves have only played one 'top' side in Man Utd.

Can we please just get a grip of reality, take a deep breath and give the new regime themselves a few months breathing space? Commenting with at least some justification around February/March would be reasonable – given the journey we have, hopefully, embarked upon.

I dread to think what some of the views would have been, if we'd suffered a slow start this season.

Mike Barrett
23 Posted 29/09/2016 at 18:27:17
Steavey, please show me where and when we were promised £100 million.

Can you show me an interview with Moshiri, Kenwright, or anyone at the club who promised this sum for transfers???

Mike Gaynes
24 Posted 29/09/2016 at 21:42:09
Dave (#13) and Chris (#14), wholeheartedly agree on Lennon... he was our best player for a seven-game stretch of last season, and his intelligent ferocity has been missed. I think Mirallas is trying hard, but he's off-rhythm in attack and he's just not that good at pressing, no matter the effort.

Great to read Jagielka's comments... very informative. Credit to Koeman for changing both the priorities and the plan from last season. But two key items are overlooked in my opinion: Williams is a much better, more physical man-marker than either Stones or Funes Mori, and Gueye is a superior close-down artist and ballwinner to anyone we've had in years.

Those two being a bit off-form were important to the problems at Bournemouth... Williams had a tough time controlling Wilson, and Gana was left too isolated when he closed down on the ball.

Anto Byrne
25 Posted 30/09/2016 at 03:06:19
It's hard to defend a piece of individual brilliance that was the Bournemouth goal. They were unlucky with a ball that hit the bar. Other than those two opportunities, they really didn't do much more than park the bus and I can't remember them carving out chance after chance in the second half.

We did have two clear-cut chances that we really should have scored from. There are some good signs defensively whereas the middle and forward area is misfiring. If Barkley isn't up to it, let's have a look at other options. I'm sure Koeman will sort it out.

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