Whilst Mile Jedinak hasn’t had the most comfortable time at centre-back this season, it’s a natural progression for the Australian at Aston Villa.
Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)
As Aston Villa fans wish upon stars and celestial spirits for more positive performances, one name keeps getting a lot of heat among supporters circles on social media.
Mile Jedinak seems be a project of sorts in the mind of one Steve Bruce. While the Villa manager has been under fire from die-hard Claret & Blue supporters about how he is using Jedinak in recent times, most of the comments are overly negative.
But there hasn’t been much discussion about why exactly Jedinak is doing a stint as a centre-back. It is very evident that Jedinak has lost a fair bit of pace over the years, which is very natural for a footballer of his age. Gone are the days of even playing as a patrolling central defensive midfielder for the Australian international. Long ago, when Jedinak played for Crystal Palace, he could be seen being a real menace to opposition danger men.
Back then, Jedinak possessed the skills and physical ability to not only defend in a tactical sense, but also defend pretty well using his legs to get back into his own third of the pitch to break up attacks. Not shying away from the offensive side of the ball, Jedinak has shown time and time again that he is able to dominate in the air and especially in the opposition 18-yard box. To some Crystal Palace supporters, Jedinak is revered with such words as “legend”, “leader”, and “hero”. The leadership qualities that Jedinak exemplified while at Palace echo exactly what members of Aston Villa have said about him to this day. A fierce competitor on and off the pitch, Villa have gained the personification of professionalism and leadership.
Now that Jedinak seems to be one of Steve Bruce’s first choice centre-backs at Aston Villa, the supporters of his latest club are found scratching their heads and going on fire-laden tirades on social media.
Is the change of position for Jedinak a bit of a shock? Yes. Has he found himself struggling here and there at his new position? Yes. Should the Aston Villa supporters give him time to adjust to a new position? Also, yes.
It is natural to address Mile Jedinak as a central defender in a curious way if you’re an Aston Villa supporter. Yet a little bit of common sense added with a dash of patience makes a world of difference in this instance and in life. There are a few examples out there of midfielders being moved to a more defensive position due to their age. Not to compare talent levels at all, but James Milner, Ashley Young and Fabian Delph have all moved to new positions a few times in their career as they have gotten older. The fact is that once those aforementioned players were given time at their respective new positions, they generally flourished.
We could very well see the same thing happen with Mile Jedinak at Aston Villa.
There is no secret that Aston Villa supporters lack patience when it comes to matters that mean most to them. Every single AVFC supporter wants the club to gain promotion back to where they feel the club belongs: in the Premier League. Actually getting there is an entirely different story. It goes without saying, but Villa’s die-hards are a tough bunch to keep on your side. There is also a smattering of opinion that Mile should be rotated into the squad in positions where Glenn Whelan and Birkir Bjarnason have been playing this far into a young season. The signing of midfielder John McGinn from Hibernian made the depth chart in the center of the Aston Villa midfield longer than a laundry list. Jedinak is one of the higher paid players for Aston Villa, so he needs to play and he needs somewhere to play as well. It would be hard pressed to pick Jedinak in the starting eleven when Conor Hourihane is having problems getting a game under the current depth at midfield.
The sooner than the Aston Villa supporters wrap their minds around these facts, the easier the transition will be for the ones who want Jedinak out of the team all together. He still maintains great strength on and off the ball as well as height advantage to most of the top Championship strikers. It may take a while longer than the Villa supporters are willing to give, but through time and patience Jedinak could end up being exactly what Aston Villa need at the heart of defence.