Phil Jagielka insists Everton are unconcerned by Steven Gerrard’s claim that they are a long-ball team, and says the Blues will continue to look to play on the front foot.
Gerrard’s comments in the wake of Sunday’s Merseyside derby draw had caused quite a stir among supporters of both clubs. The Liverpool captain had likened Everton’s tactics in the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park to those employed by Stoke City, a side notorious for their robust, direct style of play, and accused them of simply aiming long balls towards the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic.
Subsequent statistical analyses seemed to contradict Gerrard’s view somewhat. Everton enjoyed a greater share of possession than their rivals, attempted and completed more passes, and a lesser proportion of those passes were hit long.
Jagielka, though, refused to be drawn into a war of words with his England international colleague.
“It’s not something that particularly bothers us,” said the defender.
“I know Stevie well, he’s obviously a proud Liverpudlian, and as captain he has done fantastically well for the club for many years.
“He’s allowed his opinion. We may well play more long balls than Liverpool do, we may play more direct football. But if you look at the possession stats from Sunday, we had more possession than them at the end of the day.
“So for a team that supposedly just gets it and shells it, the stats don’t really add up.”