PHIL Jagielka could not hide his frustration with the performance of referee Howard Webb after Everton sank to a rare defeat at Manchester City.
The England defender, along with his manager David Moyes, insists the official contributed to the Toffee’s down-fall at the Etihad stadium on Saturday, despite a brave defensive display.
Moyes told reporters after the 2-0 defeat that his players had been concerned by Webb’s “arrogance” on the pitch, and also claimed the 2010 World Cup final referee was influenced by the home crowd.
He was also angry the official missed an apparent stamp by Vincent Kompany on Tim Cahill which left the Blues midfielder unable to continue.
And Jagielka, 29, said the Blues suffered from a string of poor decisions by Webb, including an incorrect throw-in for their opponents in the run up to Mario Balotelli’s opening goal, and ignoring a second half block by Vincent Kompany on Louis Saha that should have resulted in a free kick on the edge of the area.
He said: “We felt a couple of key decisions didn’t go our way. I’ve been told it was blatantly our throw-in for their first goal, Bainesy kicked it off their lad and from the throw-in they scored. Then Louis goes through and from our view he was blatantly obstructed. I can understand the ref being concerned giving it if it might have been a penalty, but it was clearly outside, so it’s not like it was a big call.
“What could have been a decent point is now a defeat. We realise it’s a hard place to come, but for two-thirds of the game we were heading for a clean sheet.
“When you come to City, you need that rub of the green. They have so many attacking options and keep the ball for such long periods, if you aren’t lucky then you aren’t going to win the game.
“We aren’t going to spit our dummy out, but with a bit more luck we could have seen the game out.”
Everton lost their unbeaten record at the City of Manchester stadium, having won four on the run there, but were only behind when Balotelli’s strike deflected off Jagielka and past Tim Howard.
“If you are part of the big four maybe you can fight fire with fire, but for the rest of us, we have to come up with a gameplan,” said Jagielka. “Obviously it didn’t work, but it wasn’t too bad for the majority of the game.
“It’s hard to defend like that for a full game. I feel more sorry for our strikers and the midfielders, as a defender you are shuffling across and blocking holes, whereas for the others they are having to chase people.
“With players like Jack and Felli having to play 120 minutes in midweek, to come here and run around again, it’d be interesting to see the stats how far they’ve run. The credit goes out to them.”
Jagielka believes City have certainly improved from last season. He said: “A few of their players have settled down now, and you can tell they believe they should be where they are now, rather than maybe just hoping.
“Mancini has got his style of play into the players, the back five have more experience and Joleon and Vincent have played together more often in central defence. It’s all about getting partnerships and I think City proved that.
“They will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season, as they were last season.
“Whether they’ve got enough to pip Man Utd and Chelsea, who have the experience of the cold December nights and nicking an away win despite playing badly, time will tell.”
Meanwhile, Everton will play Chelsea at Goodison Park in the Carling Cup fourth round. The tie will take place during the week beginning Monday, October 24.