How Phil Jagielka could fit in at Sheffield United

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

12 years to the day since Phil Jagielka left Sheffield United he returned to Bramall Lane, becoming the Blades’ second signing of the summer.

While this signing may seem like a sentimental one, the former England international still has a lot to offer on the pitch.

While the 36-year-old played in just seven games last term, the Toffees kept clean sheets in five of them including against top four contenders Chelsea and Arsenal.

He even scored against Arsenal and was one of the best players on the pitch that day as the Gunners were limited to just two shots on target.

The former Everton man may be of value to Sheffield United, but how would he fit in at the club?

In Wilder’s current system

With Chris Wilder playing in such a unique way with his centre-backs, there’s really only one player Jagielka could replace in that backline.

Indeed, the 51-year-old encourages his outside centre-halves to attack, and the veteran legs of Jagielka probably don’t have the energy to do that anymore seeing as he only played the full 90 minutes three times last term.

Therefore, he would have to step into John Egan’s role as the sitting defender, and he could accomplish that competently as he has the defensive acumen to stop the best of attacks in the Premier League, as he showed by keeping Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at bay last season.

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A new system

With the Blades’ promotion to the Premier League, they may have to experiment with new tactics, and Jagielka could fit into one of those.

Nothing captures the unpredictability of the Championship better than the video below…

Rather than playing a 5-2-1-2 with overlapping centre-halves, Wilder could adjust that into a 4-3-1-2 late in a game by subbing Jagielka on for Jack O’Connell and moving Chris Basham into the midfield where he has played before, namely against Leeds last season.

This would allow the Blades to have two much more rigid centre-backs in Egan and Jagielka with a strong defensive midfielder in front of them in Basham, and if they need to defend a lead late on this could be the way to do it.

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