What no Mile Jedinak?
Following Aston Villa’s 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest, a lot has been said about Roberto Di Matteo’s in-game management after Villa went 2-1 up.
The leading question on social media from supporters over the days that followed the match was – why didn’t the Villa boss bring on Mile Jedinak to protect the lead?
To be honest, such questioning is hindsight talking due to the final result. If Villa had won, it wouldn’t have even been mentioned and fans would have considered Jedinak nicely rested for the Brentford game, after his international excursions the week before.
Di Matteo had brought on Rudy Gestede when Villa were 1-0 down and within 10 minutes he had turned the tide and had given the home team the lead. Villa were very much in the ascendancy and were looking more likely to increase their lead then Forest were of replying with an equaliser. Also, Villa had initially conceded the first goal when they actually had more midfielders on the pitch.
Just because you take a lead, doesn’t suddenly mean you bring on subs to be more defensive and protect it, when the opposition hadn’t actually been putting you under much pressure. Fair enough, if the opposition were ripping you apart time after time, but this wasn’t the case on Sunday.
Jedinak had actually stripped off to come on but Forest scored their equaliser at the same time, thus Di Matteo decided against it at 2-2.
It’s unlikely the Australian would have even been on the bench in the first place, if Villa hadn’t been struck down by midfield injuries, most notably to Albert Adomah and Aaron Tshibola.
If Jedinak was fully fit, he would have started, but after the knock he took on international duty in Perth during Australia’s 2-0 win against Iraq, he was always being lined up for a Wednesday return for Villa.
Having personally lived in Australia for a couple of years and made the trip a few times, the thought of doing it there and back within a week with a stop off in UAE, isn’t exactly ideal even when you’re not a professional sportsperson.
Villa judging by the amount of chances they created should have been Forest without Jedinak. While Di Matteo will come under scrutiny in the following days if he hasn’t added any more wins to Villa’s slow start to the season, in this case it’s sensible to have rested Jedinak and have him 100% and ready to go for Brentford, rather than have a jaded version of him and risk further injury (also he didn’t exactly stop Bristol City from winning in the previous game he played).
Villa will face the same problem again Jedinak in October, when Australia play Saudia Arabia away on Thursday October 6th followed by a home tie in Australia against Japan on the following Tuesday October 11th, giving him little time to recover before the Wolves game at the following weekend.
On an aside, the fact Jedinak was on the bench against Forest signals two things. One he is close to being ready and should start against Brentford. The second is Villa’s midfield is still thin in resources, considering he pretty much had to be an option on the bench with injuries to Tshibola and Abomah and the fact Westwood and Gardner was the best Villa could do in terms of starters.
With key Villa players being African and Australian internationals, the travel and recovery factor is not ideal in the context of a promotion push (when it hopefully finally gets going) and something Di Matteo may have to address in January, if it continues to become a costly strain.
MOMS Podcast Episode 4 – an in-depth look at all of Villa’s signings: