Was It Time To Let The Jedi Go?

The loss of someone with the stature and as highly regard as Mile Jedinak has been at Selhurst Park will always spark raw emotion but most of all, it is the good times that fans will be recall fondly.

Our former captain has moved to pastures new with our best all of our best wishes but the sale of a club legend has caused plenty of consternation among the TEB ranks let alone the fan base.

With differing opinions, Sam and Lucy took each other on in a ‘write-off’ to make their case. We will find out what you, the fans, think by running a Twitter poll and open up to comments below this article and on our Facebook page.

So who is right? Read what both have to say about our departed Jedi.


IN THE BLUE CORNER – SAM SMITH

Mile Jedinak. A club legend. A leader. A warrior and, at one point, a match winner.

Easily forgotten is Jedinak’s start to life at Selhurst. A skinny, often clumsy character ridiculed for his inability to pass, whether it was five yards or thirty. He was excused based on the argument that foreign players tend to take a while to settle when they arrive in England.

Our patience was soon rewarded. An injury to club captain Paddy McCarthy in the summer of 2012 meant then manager Dougie Freedman had the rather difficult job of re-distributing the armband. The squad, small in numbers, lacked leaders. Obvious candidates Darren Ambrose and Nathaniel Clyne had moved on to pastures new in the months prior, whilst Julian Speroni and Kagisho Dikgacoi remained the fans preferred choice.

Jedinak had been in and out of the team the previous season. So when he led the team out in the 2012/13 season opener against Watford, most of Selhurst was fairly shocked.

It was soon clear why Freedman had opted for the Australian international. His summer had obviously been spent at the Beckenham training ground gym and looked far from the scrawny, curly-haired midfielder that we had witnessed the year before. He seemed to have an outstanding attitude, eager to improve and able to battle against adversity in order to do so. This ultimately epitomised everything Jedinak displayed in a Palace shirt.

Palace’s horrendous form in the opening stages of that season had just one highlight. Jedinak. He was blossoming into one of the best ball-winning midfielders in the Championship and was soon a key part of the side as the mini capitulation was turned around. Palace were on a mission to be promoted and Jedinak was at the centre of it.

Wilfried Zaha, Glenn Murray and Yannick Bolasie will always be the three players who people point to when asked who the key players were of the promotion season. But for those who watched every game, Jedinak was just as important. On paper, a central defensive partnership of Peter Ramage and Damien Delaney should be conceding goals left, right and centre, but they did not and that was largely down to the work of Jedinak in front of them. He was the cement in a well organised defensive unit although his work often went unnoticed.

For the next eighteen months under Ian Holloway and then Tony Pulis, Jedinak remained one of Palace’s best players. Winning promotion under Holloway and surviving top flight relegation under Pulis was the pinnacle of Jedinak’s Palace career.

However, things felt like they going downhill for the midfielder when Neil Warnock was appointed in 2014 following Pulis’ infamous departure. Jedinak still had his flaws and they were starting to be exposed under Warnock. Palace played higher up the pitch and he seemed uncomfortable, especially when passing the ball at a faster tempo than what was seen under Pulis. He was often caught in possession and gave the ball away cheaply, which resulted in him having to take a yellow card to prevent an attack, which has always been one of the most frustrating things about him.jedinak

A game that sticks in the memory will always be Sunderland at home under Warnock. A 3-1 defeat was made even worse by Jedinak being sent off for what were two of the most needless yellow cards anyone will ever see. There seemed to be a change of attitude from the captain. He acted the victim after the game and appeared to have been brainwashed by his manager, blaming the referee for his own faults.

Warnock was soon moved out and Alan Pardew’s appointment was the worst thing that ever happened for Jedinak. The Australian’s flaws outweighed his strengths in the former Newcastle United manager’s system and he even found himself used as a substitute more often than not.

Pardew preferred a quicker style of play and Jedinak just did not fit the mould. James McArthur ended up doing the ball-winning job and was also useful in other areas of the pitch, effectively doing the job of both central midfielders.

The arrival of Yohan Cabaye ended any hope Jedinak had of earning a regular starting role and it even got to the stage where he was not in the squad at all. He could easily have left last summer or in January, but now is definitely the time for him to depart.

The only worry is that, should Palace carry on their poor form and Pardew leaves, a new manager might prefer Jedinak’s style. Buying a more ‘able’ replacement is imperative but the money being offered by Aston Villa for his services is just too good to turn down. It is a very similar situation to Glenn Murray’s departure last year.

It certainly feels like the end of an era but times when Jedinak was a key part of our success are long gone. Cashing in is the best thing to do.


IN THE RED CORNER – LUCY WHITE

It is fair to say that nobody expected us to have quite the season we had last campaign.

A fantastic start had many predicting a Europa League place finish. Then Christmas came and we all must have been on Santa’s naughty list as what followed, really wasn’t the end we had hoped for. All we got were the proverbial bags of coal, in the form of just two league wins in 2016.

Despite the depressing league form that if any other manager had been at the helm would have seen him sacked, and as some have pointed out when written down it is likened to a town in Wales, Alan Pardew managed to guide the team to its first FA Cup Final in twenty-six years. However, the run and the final papered over cracks that are once again beginning to surface.

Throughout our dire league form, our fantastic journey to Wembley and for five very memorable years, the team has been lead by a man who has well and truly become embedded in our clubs history. Michael John Jedinak. Captain. Leader. Legend.

Since Mile joined the club back in 2011, he has become something of a hero among many of our fans. Being made captain by Dougie Freedman in Paddy McCarthy’s absence saw him take charge of the squad right up until recently, where his captaincy was passed over to Scott Dann. One of many shake ups we have seen under Alan Pardew more recently.

Our 2012/13 Player of the Year, Jedinak was part of the squad that saw us promoted to the Premier League, the image of him lifting the Play Off Final trophy high above his head will forever be a happy memory. Another image Palace fans will not forget is the savage and brutal facial injury Mile sustained from former Eagle, Alan Lee during Palace’s fixture against Huddersfield Town. And then, of course, there was that shirt pulling goal celebration of the 2014/15 season.

I am sure that we all have a memory of Jedinak, possibly one I have already mentioned but for me, the memory is a little more personal.

“Thanks for coming over guys”.

Five words, spoken softly in a thick Australian tongue are five words I will never forget.

I know that they don’t seem like much, but last year Mile Jedinak spoke this sentence to me, my brother and four of my friends. Having just witnessed a rather uninspiring pre-season friendly against FC Union Berlin, after a long walk from the away end, by the time we reached the front of the stadium, we noticed the team coach. There were around four other fans stood at the gate, staring intently. As the team poured out the side door of the ground, we saw Jordon Mutch, Wayne Hennessey and Damien Delaney acknowledge us before hopping on the bus.

jedinakTwo players approached that gate – Julian Speroni and Mile Jedinak. It was at this point Jedi uttered those five words. Like I said, they might not seem like much, but you could genuinely tell that he was grateful to each and every one of the fans that had made the trip over to Germany. He and Jules spent a few minutes posing for pictures and signing autographs. Nothing was too much for them.

This pre-season match was to be one leading up to a tumultuous season, ending in the hurt of that fateful day at the end of May.

With a 75% tackle success rate, (according to the official Premier League website) Mile will always be remembered for his dominance in midfield. He gave the appearance of an angry, mean Australian, a force to be reckoned with. Of course, in reality he was neither angry nor mean.

Many fans spent a lot of time berating him, often calling for him to be dropped or subbed and admittedly, there was a period where he was not exactly at his best. However, his passion and leadership never faded. He always wanted to succeed even when form was lacking. His love for Palace was no more apparent in those haunting images from the FA Cup Final of a blurry eyed, red faced skipper.

Seeing him crying at Wembley set me off and the images just bring back the feelings we all had on that day.

Last week, Mile and his magnificent beard (I couldn’t not mention it right?), departed SE25 for Villa Park just days after Yannick Bolasie left for Everton. Whether or not Mile actually wanted to leave or what his feelings were of being stripped of the captaincy and his thoughts on what is currently happening at Selhurst Park, we will never truly know. However, his heartfelt post on Instagram showed exactly what the club and fans meant to him and it’s fair to say, our fan base were gutted to say goodbye to our very own Socceroo.

He was one of, if not the best skipper I have seen at Palace in my thirty years of supporting the club. It pained me to see him holding a Villa shirt but as times are changing, I wish him nothing but success.

Thanks for everything Skip, it’s been emotional.


Which corner are you in – blue or red? Vote in our Twitter poll, leave your comments below this article or on our Facebook page.

 

 

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