PHIL JAGIELKA has been having a ball pre-season – and the Blues skipper believes the entire Everton squad will enjoy their new manager’s emphasis on ballwork.
If there were subtle signs of a change of direction in Sunday’s opening pre-season game in Vienna, the switch has been even more emphatic during training sessions.
Footballs have been introduced much earlier than usual and the majority of the early drills have involved ballwork.
“Pre-season has been drastically different,” explained Jagielka.
“Normally you’re working a lot harder off the ball – you’re running around and running around and the balls rarely come out, whereas now we do a lot of running around with the ball.
“The manager’s very keen on you having a lot higher concentration levels which will obviously help us when we’re trying to keep the ball for the majority of the time.
“We were disappointed with some of the goals we conceded on Sunday but that’s the way pre-season goes.
“We were looking at videos of the game and the manager took the positives out, which is that we played some good stuff as well.
“Unfortunately we played some bad stuff which cost us, but it’s only a pre-season friendly and there’s no point getting too downbeat over it.
“This is the way we’re going to play for the season and I’m sure once it settles down – we’re only two weeks in – the boys will love it and hopefully it can make us progress as a club.
“We’ll play differently. But it doesn’t mean we’ll always have to play from the back.
“We were starting to do it a little bit towards the end of David Moyes’ time here but the new manager has different views.”
As a centre-back who spent plenty of his early football career in midfield, Jagielka is comfortable with a ball at his feet.
And he says he won’t be alone in enjoying a change of approach.
“I think the whole team will enjoy it, not just the back four,” he said.
“It’s a case of what options have the back-four got – or the back five or the back three if the manager decides to change it – when they’ve got the ball.
“There’s more emphasis not just on the first phase of getting the ball, but what happens when he gets it and then what happens when the next person gets it.
“It’s going to be very educational and probably hard to grasp overnight, but we’ve got quite a few weeks before the start of the season.
“The manager seems very happy with the way we’ve taken to things at the moment and hopefully when it comes to Norwich on August 17 we’ll be firing on all cylinders, playing some nice football but at the same time putting teams under some pressure and hopefully scoring some goals.”
The Blues will aim to put their new philosophy into practice at League Two Accrington tonight.
And Jagielka’s defensive team-mate, Leighton Baines, is also relishing the chance to work on the new approach.
“There’s a change in style of play and the way that we’re going to play this year,” he said. “We’ve got to start to adapt now to the way the manager wants us to play.
“Wednesday is another opportunity for us to work on our shape and our style of play. They’re never easy games these pre-season games.
“Hopefully we can start to improve game-by-game and there are some tough games out in the States which everyone is excited about as well. The more game time we get the better we’ll get.”