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.

Aussie Issues

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.

After the win against Iraq, Jedinak had been touch and go for the Socceroo’s next qualifier against UAE a few days later. He made the trip to Abu Dhabi, but in the end didn’t play in a game that was played in 35 degree heat.
When Jedinak returned to Villa, he only trained on the day before the Forest game. Injured or not, the travel involved while being on international duty for Australia in the international break was some of the most extensive an international player could experience.
The Australian players had spent a recovery day in Perth before flying to the Emirates, and while they reportedly slept on the plane to reduce the time difference strain, the dramatic travel schedule takes it toll, especially if you’re playing 90 minutes of a competitive game in the same week.

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.

Bees Return

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:

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  1. Its fairly obvious really. Once we had gone 2-1 up a CM of just Westy was not enough, as evidenced by Periera (?) skipping through said non-existent CM and being straight in at the CBs at pace. Whilst Ayew and Grealish are great attackers and Grealish’s defensive side is getting better, they are not ideal for the wide positions in a diamond. Not rocket science. He sacrificed a CM’er to get the attacking impetus to get in front and should have then restored the side to a more sensible balanced structure for the final minutes of the game once we were ahead. This is not hindsight BUT rather common sense.

  2. Didn’t need to be jedinak, just change the shape. A whole article about flying and Australia misses the point. We had too many attackers on when in the last five minutes when he had midfielders or defenders that sat watching from the side.
    A bit of tactical nous would have won that game, jedinak injury / flight / weather is irrelevant!

    • True, good point in terms of changing things at the end to see it out. Regarding Jedinak, he was going to join the game at a late stage but obviously their equaliser put pay to that. I think Di Matteo got caught up with the turnaround in the game and we were looking better with more attackers on.

  3. Of course fans want more , but a little realism is also required ! A team is only allowed to use 3 subs and against Forest Villa used 2 ! Th first being enforced due to the injury to Gollini , and the 2nd led to us taking the lead
    As for what is reasonable to expect I think some of those making such statements should lend the manager their crystal balls as clearly their’s are better @ predicting how a match will progress

  4. That’s nonsense, Mile was stripped off and ready to come on when they scored, so clearly RDM was thinking what we were all thinking, we were too weak in the CM department. Its fine to gamble but when leading, it was an obvious substitution, that was made by many at the time, not after the fact.

    • The issue is more about the timing of him coming on. While it’s only a matter of minutes, RDM would have probably have brought Jedinak on straight away, if Gestede had scored the second goal in the final five minutes or so. But when Gestede did actually score, he probably fancied Villa for another with 16+ mins left. Fine margins,but the main issue is too many Villa midfielders missing, hopefully we’ll be full-strength tonight.

  5. Look how many times Villa have been punished in the last 5 minutes. I’m looking for more from Roberto regarding tactics and tactical changes and the composition of who he has on the bench. Opponents are very aware of our vulnerability in the closing stage of a game but still we continue to ignore and repeat our mistakes. A fair point could be not making a substitution when we take the lead, just to protect the lead but seeing out a match is what most managers are paid to do and we can reasonably expect

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