MOMS had the pleasure of meeting new Aston Villa owner Tony Xia before the Huddersfield Town game at the Fan Consultancy Group meeting. During the meeting MOMS asked him what he had told the Villa first team at his recent meeting with the players at Bodymoor Heath. He told a story of there being four types of people, to cut a long story short, the fourth category of people were ‘leaders’. He said, these were the type of players that Villa had focused on bringing to the club in this transfer window and the former Crystal Palace captain Mile Jedinak is the perfect example.
Here, Richard Wakefield breaks down the attributes of Villa’s latest signing…
Jedinak Puts Pen to Paper
Mile Jedinak has just signed a three-year Aston Villa contract and will very much make Villa legitimate promotion candidates. The Australian born midfielder’s fee has been left as undisclosed, but with being 32-years-old and his contract ending at the end of the current season, the fee is expected to be no more than £4million.
Predominately playing as an industrious holding midfielder, Jedinak looks to add steel to the currently lightweight midfield that Roberto Di Matteo possesses with Ashley Westwood and Gary Gardner being touted as the ones to be shuffled down the pecking order for a place in the starting XI.
Last season’s capitulation in the Premier League has been pinpointed by many as a lack of leadership. Following the arrivals of Tommy Elphick to sure up the rear-guard and Ross McCormack to bolster the attack, Jedinak completes the Aston Villa backbone, as he will begin to take the role of enforcer in the middle of the park.
The midfielder has proven he has this leadership quality by captaining Crystal Palace since 2012. Being the captain of Crystal Palace’s play-off winning team and maintaining the captaincy for a further three years leading Crystal Palace to consistent mid-table finishes in the Premier League shows Jedinak can create sustainability in squads that lack serious talent in most positions.
However, Jedinak’s strong leadership skills transcend club football as he captained the Australian national team at the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 AFC Asian Cup. Lifting the trophy on home soil as Australia won the AFC Asian Cup under Jedinak’s captaincy cemented him as a true leader of a team and has given him international pedigree.
While Elphick will no doubt keep the captain’s armband, Villa will have another captain in spirit in their ranks.
You would be hard pressed to find a Crystal Palace fan who is firmly in favour of selling Jedinak. It’s more than simply losing his magnificent beard from their ranks. Whether the reason be that the Palace squad is too thin, or that Jedinak has the quality to be a leader in the starting XI, Jedinak’s sale has been mostly met with negative assessments of Pardew and his future plans.
It isn’t hard to see why Jedinak is a mostly beloved figure at Selhurst Park, as he fired them back into the Premier League in the 2012/13 campaign through the play-offs and was consistently named by fans and pundits as one of the best players in the Crystal Palace squad. With many viewing Jedinak as the dressing room leader, he is seen as the man who keeps everything ticking over in the Crystal Palace squad.
Last Piece of the Puzzle
Ashley Westwood has been a mainstay in the Aston Villa team since arriving under Paul Lambert. His tenure on the midfield role hasn’t been a smooth ride as he remains as one of the most polarising players still in the squad. Many of the people who doubt Westwood’s ability will certainly be pleased, as Jedinak is seen as the man to finally take the position from Westwood’s hands as he’s linked with a move of his own away from Villa Park.
With Gary Gardner not impressing in his two starts this season, Jedinak seems like a perfect replacement to partner Aaron Tshibola in the middle of the park. Adding a genuine tough and imposing midfield general in the heart of the Villa team would create all sorts of problems for the oppositions attack and midfield, hopefully cutting out the danger before it even begins.
Not only does the Aussie have decent technical ability – with decent ability on freekicks and penalties) – he also offers the same mentality that many of Di Matteo’s signings have in their lockers.
Alongside Chester, Elphick and McCormack, Jedinak possesses that leadership mentality. The attitude filled with passion, determination and motivation can become infectious for the young players surrounding him like Grealish, Green and Tshibola.
Jedinak in Stats
Continuing the Jedinak comparison to Westwood, Jedinak is a clear winner in the defensive department. In terms of tackles per game, since the 2013/14 season, Ashley Westwood averages 1.5 tackles per game whilst Jedinak averages an impressive 2.9.
However this is heavily brought down by his limited game time last season, as excluding the last campaign boosts Jedinaks tackles per game stat up to an unrivalled 3.4.
The stats don’t bode well for Westwood in the interceptions per game stat either as he averages 1.5 interceptions per game, whilst Jedinak showcases a 3.1 interceptions per game stat. Once again excluding last season’s statistic boosts, Jedinaks stats up to an impressive 3.6 interceptions per game.
These stats only confirm that Jedinak is willing to get stuck in to the opposition and win the ball back as quick as possible for his teammates. Reducing the workload of everybody around him could allow for more opportunities to attack and commit men forward adding much needed versatility to Roberto Di Matteo’s arsenal.
Too Good to Be True
Unfortunately, Jedinak does come with his faults. Without delving into too many statistics, Jedinak isn’t known for his wide range of passing or shooting ability as he prefers to play it simple and allow his more creative teammates do the attacking. Being limited on the ball is why he relies on his strength and defensive skills to warrant being named on the team sheet.
Also, a worry about this transfer is Mile’s age. Joining Villa at 32-years-old, there are question marks about him still having the legs, certainly later on in his three-year deal. Accompanying Jedinak as he ages is the alarming rate at which he is picking up injuries.
Whilst not enough to give him the dreaded ‘injury prone’ label, Jedinak has suffered two separate hamstring injuries within the last eight months with the most recent being in March 2016.
Mile Jedinak is clearly a short term signing with the aim being to fire Aston Villa back into the Premier League on the first time of asking. In that respect he is a key signing, as the here and now is what Villa need to concern themselves with the most.
Whilst being an improvement in terms of Aston Villa’s defensive midfielders, Jedinak is available to offer more in terms of being a positive example for younger talent in the dressing room and also will add that resilience when the team needs to dig their heels in to see out a win – i.e. the Huddersfield game – in what will surely be a very hectic season.
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