Everton FC: Why Phil Jagielka Will Be an Excellent Leader for the Toffees
Roberto Martinez is not the only man stepping into some well worn shoes at Everton this summer.
Following Phil Neville's decision to retire from football, Phil Jagielka will be donning the captain's armband next season, leading the Toffees forward as new club captain.
The England international is an obvious pick for the post and should excel in this promotion, although he's likely to prove a slightly different breed of leader than Neville.
Captains tend to be selected based primarily on one of two schools of thought: performance or experience. The skipper is either a player of advanced years, with considerable experience to pass on (perhaps at a level few among his current dressing room have seen), or he is simply one of the teams leading players who helps set the level of play.
Both styles have pros and cons, and Neville was certainly from the former category. A highly vocal leader, he would continually demand high standards, maintain exemplary professionalism and occasionally preach the ways of Sir Alex Ferguson or various England managers to his teammates.
However, it becomes difficult to accept that style of leader when his form begins to desert him. Not one of his side's top performers, the merits of his inclusion are often hotly debated and it becomes especially dangerous if captaincy then appears to be the only reason for his selection.
This is certainly what happened with Neville, whose form slunk so dramatically that he would have been omitted from most supporters' lineups. If Everton underperformed, he would be one of the first to be vilified and his side's inept showing against Wigan in the FA Cup quarterfinal last season was seemingly a final straw for both player and manager.
Hauled off at halftime, he never put on the club's jersey again and, unofficially, the era of Jagielka began.
The situation with Neville got out of hand. While an experienced leader offers numerous positives and is the modus operandi in several countries such as Italy, he cannot become the least effective player in a starting lineup.
Jagielka, who continually deputised for Neville this past season, is far more of a performance-based captain and that should serve him well during his tenure—especially after the way Neville bowed out.
He is among the Toffees' and the Premier League's leading performers, and was right in the frame for Everton's Player of the Year last season following one of his best campaigns for the club.
While Everton often struggle in attack, they consistently keep one of the tightest defences in the Premier League—fourth and third best over the past two seasons. The fact that Jagielka is seen to be one of the main contributors to that, leading from the back as the club's premier defender, can only solidify his status among both peers and supporters.
He will certainly bring elements of experience to the role and has become a far more vocal presence on the pitch, but, still only 30, he will primarily be a leader by example.
Jagielka has recently revealed how contrasting his personality is to Neville, admiring his former captain's example and stating how he's ready to "grow up" for this new role.
He's clearly more of a laid back character, key to the atmosphere in the dressing room and happy to involve himself in pranks and jokes. Some of these habits may need to be curbed slightly as captain, but being so central to morale at the club can only be a positive trait.
Though Jagielka was appointed at the end of David Moyes' tenure, Roberto Martinez has wisely been quick to reaffirm the decision, backing Jagielka to become a "phenomenal" captain.
High praise indeed, and to reach that elite status he would obviously need to lead his side to the Champions League or hoist silverware in the next few years. However, for the meantime at least, Everton's new captain has all the tools required to be a strong leader and, if nothing else, should remove any debate around the position for the foreseeable future.
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