Coming out on top in our countdown of the top five candidates for our Player of the Year, Mile Jedinak is sure to be a popular choice. Bradley Russell explains why…
The greatest compliment you can give Mile Jedinak this season, is that we have not missed our previous wearer of the armband. Paddy McCarthy, so often a powerful figure on the pitch and in the dressing room, hasn’t kicked a ball in anger for nearly a year but the towering Aussie has taken on the captain’s berth and excelled in every way, building on his dominating performances from last term.
Mile Jedinak is number one on this list ahead of (at the time of writing) the league’s top goalscorer and one of the greatest talents to ever come off the Palace production line. It’s easy to give accolades to the goalscorers and showboaters of this world but to be showered with the amount of praise that Jedinak has been in a defensive midfield role takes real quality.
Barring the odd exception, Mile has been head and shoulders above anyone in the centre of the park, even against Premier League opposition he didn’t look out of place and, unfortunately, that’s where it looks like he might be heading if we don’t go up ourselves this season. Mile’s game isn’t all about regaining the ball in the middle of the park; his assists and even his goals have been crucial in helping Crystal Palace maintain their brilliant start.
His passes for Glenn Murray has shown that his ability to advance the play has come on leaps and bounds and he’s even added goals to his game, typified by his rocket against Millwall. The build-up to that goal is typical Jedinak’ effortlessly winning the ball before brushing off a Millwall player to drive his team on. From the resulting corner he demonstrates a keen sense of positioning, finding 20 yards of space to drive home past David Forde.
The impact of the man is tremendous; he can ignite a passion within both a team and a crowd by completing a simple blocking tackle. His absence is keenly felt. Jedinak hasn’t been missing much this season but a laboured 2-1 win over Charlton with a midfield pairing of Alex Marrow and Stuart O’ Keefe merely proved why Mile Jedinak should be the first name on the team sheet week in, week out.
Mile is an exceptional player and hopefully he will continue to prove that for years to come in red and blue.