There was very little to get excited about in the recent derby match unless you’re a fan of Australian men with big beards.
Mile Jedinak finally returned from his injury layoff in the second half and stopped the endless Birmingham pressure and allowed Villa to actually get forward meaningfully.
Steve Bruce now has to decide how Jedinak fits into his team. Last season, Villa didn’t win a game in which Jedinak didn’t play but we’ve been doing just fine without him this year, mainly due to the efforts of Glenn Whelan.
Whelan has provided the steel Villa lacked last season when Jedinak was missing.
Now anybody with eyes can see that despite both being defensive midfielders, Jedinak and Whelan are vastly different players. Jedinak is a true anchor, he sits in front of the centre backs, wins the ball back and gives it to someone else to take forward.
Whelan prefers to charge around the midfield, make tackles and take the ball forward himself.
Bruce may well decide to play them both but, in my opinion, he should not. Jedinak is so good at what he does that the team will not benefit greatly from another defensive player being alongside him. Villa will be better with two in front of Jedinak and Whelan is far behind other midfielders for those positions.
It might seem harsh to drop Whelan now, especially after a Man of the Match performance in the derby but, in truth, his performance levels have fluctuated badly and against the better sides, his lack of positional awareness has been exploited.
Jedinak needs to be in the Villa team as he offers a balance and solidity that Whelan does not.
Maybe for some away games there is justification for playing the duo together but in my opinion, Bruce should be selecting the Australian whenever possible and as such, the Irishman should find himself on the bench more often than not.