Everton must target Europa League like Man United, Liverpool - Jagielka
LIVERPOOL -- Everton captain Phil Jagielka has told ESPN FC that the club can follow the path set out by Manchester United and Liverpool and target glory in the Europa League this season.
Ronald Koeman's team start their Group E campaign against Atalanta in Italy on Thursday with the aim of delivering the first European trophy to Goodison Park since Howard Kendall's legendary Everton team won the old Cup Winners' Cup in 1985.
Success in the Europa League would secure Champions League football for Everton next season, with United earning a place in UEFA's premier competition this year by virtue of beating Ajax in the 2017 Europa League final in Stockholm.
United's win came 12 months after Liverpool lost to Sevilla in the Europa League final in Basel, but with two Premier League clubs overcoming their fixture demands to progress all the way to the final, Jagielka believes Everton must set out to do the same this season.
"After seeing how United did, and Liverpool also got to the final the year before, I think it's a competition that we can target," Jagielka told ESPN FC.
"It's a competition that a lot of people look at it and aren't sure whether to take it seriously or what sort of squad to put out in it.
"But United made a conscious effort, after not having the best of starts in the league, to put out the best team that they possibly could.
"They ended up winning a trophy they had never won before and getting Champions League qualification through doing so. We can't choose to be picky about what kind of tournaments or trophies we want to try to win.
"I think the manager is desperate to win something, as are the players, and the Europa League presents as good an opportunity as the domestic cups."
Jagielka is now in his 11th season at Goodison Park after arriving from Sheffield United in 2007 and the England defender is determined to win a major trophy before calling time on his Everton career.
"I've been here for 10 years and it's the same every year," he said. "I've been to a final and a couple of semifinals, but you want to go that bit further and win some silverware.
"The Europa League would be a fantastic competition to win and by doing so, it would also take us into the Champions League."
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_