Mile Jedinak’s aerial prowess is genuinely awe-striking, shown by stats in the Aston Villa game against Rotherham.
Words by Regan Foy (@FindFoy)
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Many would refer to Mile Jedinak as a Crystal Palace hero.
He’s not quite had the chance to become that at Aston Villa, but has certainly operated some heroic moments for the club in his time here.
Let’s throw it back to the play-off semi-finals of last year. Mile Jedinak scores the only goal across two legs with a stellar header. The second leg, Aston Villa laboured to a goalless draw. People are currently raving about Tyrone Mings, and have every reason to be – but in that play-off semi-final, Mile was Mings. Every ball that came into the Aston Villa half, Jedinak headed away like it was a nest of bees trying to sting his favourite son, Jack Grealish.
Of course, it amounted to nothing, but Jedinak was a fan favourite at that point. Almost the Glenn Whelan of last season.
This season, things have been a little different. The season started poorly and Steve Bruce thought it was a smart idea to leave us short at the back and start a number of our opening games with Mile Jedinak as a centre-back. The move, in retrospect, made sense. The former Australian captain is not getting younger, and therefore is slowing. Moving to centre-back was a smart move.
However, Jedinak struggled at times and fans singled him out for it. He made an awful mistake against Wigan and left Orjan Nyland leaving a shaky impression in his first competitive game. Nevertheless, if you look back at our earlier results, he was often one of the higher rated players on the pitch just for his aerial prowess.
He’s pretty hard not to admire. According to Dean Smith, he’s one of the hardest trainers day-in, day-out. He’s had his chances limited this season through injuries and the form of other players, but not once has he complained. There would be no need to. He’s 34-years-old and knows how useful he is to the side when called upon.
Against Rotherham, bar Jack Grealish, Mile Jedinak was the highest rated player for Aston Villa – despite playing 39 minutes less than many of his team-mates. Whilst Tuanzebe had a strong game at centre-back, Mile Jedinak has proved his use tonight.
He’s not a ball-playing defender, and doesn’t quite fit into the system that Dean Smith wants to play – which is shown by the 56% pass success rate that Mile boasts. To put that into perspective, Tuanzebe had a pass success rate of 91%. But, his strengths, as aforementioned, are his aerial play.
Jedinak won nine aerial duals, four more than the next highest player on the pitch, which was Tammy Abraham with five. He also made two key tackles.
For games that are a bit rough around the edges, Mile Jedinak is the perfect man. And he knows it. We know it.
If you don’t love that man and his glorious beard, then you can eat Kangaroo testicles.