Phil Jagielka: 500 on the clock for the Jag

Everton defender reaches a personal milestone in today's Merseyside derby but wants to see Moyes' boys take that extra step

The trouble with always punching above your weight is that eventually your fists tire. Logically, Everton should go into today's Merseyside derby with a feeling of quiet satisfaction. If clubs performed in line with the money they spend on wages, Everton would be 10th, but for the second successive season David Moyes's side are likely to finish above Liverpool, a club with double their turnover. From the moment they opened the campaign with a 1-0 win over Manchester United, the season has been almost perfectly judged.

Almost. As Phil Jagielka talks of his first Merseyside derby as captain of Everton, and his 500th Premier League match in all, there is a tinge of regret. This time last season, Everton faced Liverpool in an FA Cup semi-final that many at Goodison predicted would mark a shifting of the balance of power in the city. Everton, in far better form, took the lead but lost.

This season it was the quarter-final against Wigan that they will carry into the summer. Wigan had won once at Goodison in nine attempts. They were enmeshed in a struggle against relegation and had just been destroyed 4-0 by Liverpool. They won, effortlessly.

"There is not much we can say, the results speak for themselves," Jagielka reflected. "Unfortunately, when it comes to the biggest of big occasions – the semi-final at Wembley, the Wigan game, the derby matches at Anfield – the results have not stood up.

"I don't think you can say that mentally we are weak or we become nervous. Maybe we try too hard when it comes to those games. We have not been blessed with an out-and-out goalscorer for many seasons. I think Yak [Yakubu Aiyegbeni] was the last guy to get 20 goals here.

"AJ [Andrew Johnson] was close, but scoring goals has always been our weak point. This year we have been a lot better, but in these big games you do sometimes go behind and you need the confidence to come back. Even in the Wigan game you felt that if we could have got a goal straight after half-time, we would potentially be able to turn it around. But it faded out. Money would make it easier. If not, we would have to get lucky with a couple of signings. "Others can sign five players and be lucky with two. We make two, and if one doesn't work out we have our backs to the wall. That said, if we could get two players to make a difference, we'd be fine."

Jagielka is now at the peak of his career, perhaps the best English centre-half in the Premier League. His manager at Sheffield United, Neil Warnock, thought that if he had gone to Arsenal in 2007, as seemed likely, Arsène Wenger might have regained the title by now.

Warnock commented that the biggest change in his play has been his ability on the ball. "The game has changed," Jagielka said. "Every so often you flick on the telly and see games that look ages old but which are in fact only seven or eight years ago. A lot of games now are won purely on tactics, whereas before a lot of it was about having a go and seeing who came out the best team. Baggier shorts, baggier shirts, different tactics, different athletes.

"From Neil Warnock to David Moyes, the team talks have changed a lot, believe me. It is a bigger job now for managers to know their players. If you shout at some people, they will go into their shell. Others will try to prove you wrong. Which am I? I don't go into my shell but I don't like being shouted at, I can tell you that."

He left Bramall Lane after conceding a penalty to Wigan in the final game of the season that David Unsworth converted to relegate the Yorkshire club. Warnock resigned. Two years later, Jagielka scored the penalty that overcame Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final. He missed the final through injury. There are worse ways to end a season than finishing sixth.

This Merseyside derby will be the last to feature Jamie Carragher in the heart of the Liverpool defence and perhaps, given that he has yet to sign a new contract, it will be Moyes's last too. For all his achievements, the man who can claim to be Everton's finest manager since Howard Kendall has never won at Anfield. Now would be a good time to start.

"Goodison and Anfield are two old-fashioned grounds, where you cannot get a better atmosphere. We would love to move and be financially better off, but you would lose those special nights the old grounds seem to produce," said Jagielka. "I'd played at Anfield before I moved to Everton, in the League Cup semi-final with Sheffield United. It meant I'd heard 'You'll Never Walk Alone' – that was my first 'wow' at Anfield – but as far as the derby went, it was a tough night. I think I had to chase around after Steven Gerrard for 90 minutes."

The dressing room at Goodison, the modern Everton, is Moyes's creation, and it seems hard to believe there may be no more of him. "If we win at Anfield, I don't think that's the manager staying, if we lose I don't think that's him leaving," said Jagielka. "If you want to know what he brings to the table as a manager, just look at his team. It is easy to overachieve for one or two years but, normally, you see those teams struggling in their third and fourth years. It has been mentally hard for us being so close for so long to a Champions' League spot and it looks like we will fall short unless we have a few miracles.

"But I would rather have that exhaustion than the exhaustion I've had with Sheffield United – looking for draws and last-gasp winners, trying to climb to safety. I would rather have that disappointment than the relief of staying out of the trap door."

Jagielka in numbers

45 minutes, the length of his first England appearance, against Spain in Seville in 2009. Jagielka gave the ball away for the first goal and was substituted at half-time

34 minutes he kept Robin van Persie at bay as an emergency keeper for Sheffield United v Arsenal in 2006; United won 1-0

5 semi-finals he has played in. There has only been the one final, the 2003 Championship play-off which Sheffield United lost 3-0 to Wolves

3 countries he could have played for – England, Scotland and Poland (his granddad's country)

15 age released by Everton, an error that would cost £4m to rectify

6 bosses Sheffield United got through in the first 18 months after he joined as a youth-team player. In 14 subsequent years, Jagielka has been managed by two men, Neil Warnock and David Moyes

Liverpool v Everton is on Sky Sports 1 today, kick-off 1.30pm

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003