Mile Jedinak has always divided public opinion. For every bone-crunching tackle, there’s a misplaced pass. For every dominant header, some questionable positioning.
While the 32-year-old has a wealth of experience, plenty will argue he’s largely overrated. So what do the odds tell us?
Since his debut as captain against Ecuador in March 2013, Australia have played 35 matches, including international friendlies.
We decided to run the numbers by betting a hypothetical dollar on Australia for every one of those Socceroos games played under the Jedinak captaincy, using the best odds on offer shortly before each match kicked off.
Unfortunately, the results aren’t great for the Aston Villa midfielder. On an absolute basis, punters lose roughly 40% of their stake meaning they’re left with a mere $21, having started with $35.
That’s a lot less than the approximate 7% expected to be lost due to the bookies edge and hardly inspiring for Socceroos fans who enjoy the occasional flutter.
What about the matches Jedinak missed due to injury or was rested? Comparing the 25 matches the Australian captain played against the 10 matches he skipped, it still doesn’t look pretty.
Relatively speaking, punters would have lost a ridiculous 57% when betting on Australia solely when the 32-year-old made an appearance versus a modest 1% gain betting only when he sat out.
Although our sample size isn’t massive, it’s a damning statistic for Jedinak whose inclusion in the team should be a lift for Australia.
However, wouldn’t the defensive midfielder play more of the tougher competitive matches, including the Socceroos’ three losses in the 2014 World Cup, and avoid glorified friendlies against the likes of Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan and so on?
That may be true, but the differences in quality between sides are typically accounted for in their head-to-head odds. As an example, while Australia would be unlikely to beat Brazil, longer odds would ensure a better return if an upset does occur.
So it appears the bookies have consistently overestimated Jedinak’s contribution to the national side. When you have Mark Milligan as a more than capable replacement, it’s easy to see why.
Another explanation is that punters give the Socceroos captain way more credit than he deserves, moving the market by betting more heavily on Australia when he’s in the starting eleven and less so when he’s not playing.
Either way, it’s clear the odds aren’t in Jedinak’s favour. As un-Australian as it sounds, you may find more value betting on the Aussies’ opponents when he takes his place in the national line-up.