The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.
PHIL JAGIELKA admits it’s hard to hear his England team-mates talk about their Champions League adventures – but is using his envy as extra motivation.
Everton duo Jagielka and Leighton Baines were the only players from Roy Hodgson’s side that played Ukraine at Wembley last week not to be involved in European competition with their clubs.
And the 30-year-old central defender says that he is determined to do his utmost to ensure that has changed next season – and the Toffees are back among the sides bidding for glory on the continent.
He said: “You hear the Man City boys talking about how their family and friends were going over to watch them against Real, and you do get envious of the stadiums they’ll be playing in and the big games but it only makes you want to perform better.
“We’ve been out of Europe for a while now and while the lads say it does make the season a lot longer and you’re playing so many more games, on the same token I’ve had some great adventures away and memorable nights in Nuremburg, Fiorentina and all these different stadiums with great atmospheres.
“Sporting Lisbon stood out for me too, playing at that great ground after so long out injured. A lot of people aren’t sure about the Europa League because the clubs don’t make that much money and it does make it a longer season, but if you ask a lot of fans they’d 100% want them, and it’s frustrating for us that we’ve missed out again last season.
“There have been a few ‘nearly’ seasons lately but as a team we’ve had a good start this time.”
Jagielka insists it is important Everton do not let their standards slip when they go to Swansea’s Liberty Stadium tomorrow, after a defeat and a draw in their last two league outings.
“We started off really well and now it’s gone down to just decent,” he added. “We need to keep going to make sure in six or so games it doesn’t sink to an average start or a below average start.
“We’ve got a good platform and if we can keep performing well, and tighten up on the sloppy things we’ve been doing in games lately, you never know where it might take us.”
Marouane Fellaini is equally convinced that Swansea will not be an easy fixture to get back to winning ways.
The Belgian was named Everton’s player of the month yesterday after shining in the opening two wins over Manchester United and Aston Villa, and he said: “That is a tough game. Swansea were a revelation last season and played good football.
“We beat them twice and that will give us extra confidence, but it is a new season, they have a new manager and some new players. It will be difficult but we will be looking to win the game.”
IT’S the social networking phenomenon with a global reach which many claim has brought players and fans closer together – but don’t expect to see Phil Jagielka on Twitter anytime soon.
While some of his team-mates, in particular central defensive partner Sylvain Distin, partake in online conversations with supporters before and after games, the England defender insists he is happy to leave his smart phone switched off.
While always friendly and engaging in person with ordinary Evertonians and media, Jagielka cannot see the benefit of answering myriad questions about his performances once he’s left the ground.
The 30-year-old is currently preparing to try and emulate one of his finest displays of last season on Saturday, when he will command Everton’s defence against Swansea at the Liberty stadium.
But if the Toffees keep a clean sheet and he plays well, or the opposite happens, the former Sheffield United man will not be seeking a trial by tweets.
“I’m not on Twitter myself,” he says, speaking at a road safety awareness campaign at Longmoor Community Primary School yesterday. “If I’ve had a good game I don’t need telling I’ve had a good one, and likewise if I’ve had a bad game – I know myself or I speak to my parents and family to get a more accurate view.
“Some players do it and some don’t. I’ve seen Sylvain (Distin) get into some heated debates with fans which is good because he doesn’t shy away from the bad stuff and just enjoys the good stuff.
“As a fan you’ve got to take that as well though. If you’re going to Tweet him and hammer him, think about what good that’s going to do for his confidence or what it’ll do for the team.
“Whether it’s an Everton fan or a Liverpool fan trying to wind you up you don’t know. As far as I’m concerned it’s a dangerous situation to get into but I know Sylvain enjoys using his Twitter account and some of the other boys do.
“For me, the last thing I need after a game is answering questions about why I gave this pass away, or why I didn’t score or something. Each to their own – but it’s not for me.”
Jagielka may not be likely to sign up anytime soon, but he credits Distin’s characteristic bravery in fronting up supporters straight after the disappointing end to Monday’s game against Newcastle, when two points were squandered due to Demba Ba’s injury-time equaliser.
“If we’d beaten Newcastle then I’d see why he’d want to go on and share the good mood with fans, so fair play to him for still going on it,” he says. “Emotions were running high after the game and probably into the night. At the end of the day, Sylvain is as experienced as they come and doesn’t need to listen to so many opinions about how he played.”
Although he avoids social networking Jagielka is no technophobe, and will be immersed in the various technical aspects of preparing for a game that modern players must take onboard, such as watching various videos and computer analysis breakdowns of the opposition.
One player David Moyes is sure to have singled out is Swansea’s new midfield dangerman Michu.
“We look at the opposition as a team most of the week then individuals at the end of it,” says Jagielka. “Obviously Michu has come in with a bang and made a good impression. He’s their top goalscorer but not a lot of people knew an awful lot about him at first, which can make him harder to play against when you can’t study him too much on the videos.
“Luckily we can study what he’s done already since the season started and we’ll be prepared. It’ll be an interesting battle but if we can keep him and a few others quiet, hopefully it’ll be job done.
“We did well at the Liberty Stadium last season. I’d not been playing with the cup run and injury, but the way the whole team played that day was great. The way we set out to stop them playing and then the chances we created, made it easier to play in.
“I played okay and it was the type of performance we’d all like to repeat again.”
While Swansea have some impressive performers to be wary of on the pitch, Jagielka is full of praise for the man who will be conducting from the dug-out – former Real Madrid and Barcelona maestro Michael Laudrup.
“When you heard Brendan Rodgers had left for Liverpool you wondered who they were going to replace him with because obviously Swansea had a fantastic rise in this league,” he says. “It sounds like they’ve made a fantastic choice. He didn’t get the job just because he was a good footballer – that would have been a dangerous ploy from the Swansea directors. They’ve got a manager who has proven already why he’s had such a growing reputation.”