Milijas or Jones – a tough choice for McCarthy. Who is really the best?

The Wolves team seem to have settled at last during the last five or six matches. Not many changes are done in the formation or the players. But one of the positions still in some contest is that of the offensive inner midfielder.

David Jones has occupied the position for the last matches -replacing Nenad Milijas in the role. But is Jones really better than Milijas – a celebrated member of and starter in the national team of Serbia that with ease managed to grab a spot in the World Cup – or is simply Mick McCarthy wrong in putting Jones in this important midfield role instead of Milijas?

To answer that question I will – as many times before – go to the statistics. I will use the same comparison method as in the head-to-head stats I used to do between teams (and may do again, maybe). Let’s start:

Season 2009-10 Milijas Jones
Fouls won and / conceded / % won 9 /16 / 36% 10 /9 /53%
Tackles won and / lost / % won 10/8 /56% 9/1 /90%
Accurate passes % / Attacks created 61% / 19 76% / 4
Goals / Assists / Shots on goal 2/ 3 / 6 1 / 0 /3

You have to bare in mind that Milijas has played 19 matches against Jones 9.

But what we can say as a starter is that Jones is much better at the close-up play. His stats of winning fouls and especially at tackles are better than Milijas. Accurate passes is also a thing that Jones is better than Milijas at.

But when we come to the lower part of  the tables it talks in favour of Milijas. He creates much more attacks than Jones and he has three assists. But it seems that Jones is an equal to Milijas in shots at goal. And he is more accurate. Seven shots to make three at goal while Milijas needed 18 to create six on target.

Another way to get some answers is to compare the players playing the same team. Milijas was on against Bolton at home and Jones played when we met them away latest.

Milijas made four scoring attempts in the match against Bolton, while Jones made only one. Two of Milijas attempts was at goal. One of them actually resulted in a goal. Jones attempt at Bolton was not at goal.

Milijas did not have the ball as much as Jones. He made only 20 passes and just 65% of them were accurate. Jones passed the ball 37 times and had an accuracy of 86,5%. That is a big, big difference! Jones is more involved in play.

When looking where they passed the ball in the excellent Telegraph stats, we can conclude that Milijas cooperated with Jarvis a lot, but not with Doyle. Only one pass got through to him. Jones cooperates with Jarvis as well, but also with Foley and Doyle. He is sort of the spider in the web between our three – or four – offensive players. A Henry for the upper part of the pitch. While Milijas seem to offer something else.

But we got to take into account that Wolves did not play like we do now when Wolves- and Milijas – met Bolton at home. But I still believe that the stats are very revealing of the difference between Jones and Milijas in this single game as well as for the season so far.

To conclude: Everything but the assists and the amount of attacks created points at Jones as the better player of the two. But making assists and creating attacks are two of the most important shores of an attacking midfielder. Goals is another and there they are equal. The other data shows – in my opinion – if they are a good all-round midfielders. And Jones clearly is while Milijas skills are in doubt for that role.

Mick McCarthy is a sucker for hard-working midfielders – box-to-box players that are good at passing, tackles well and ‘puts in a shift’. He gets all that with David Jones. He does not with Nenad Milijas. But Milijas has something else. His stats looks more like the stats of a second striker than a midfielder. He is second best in the Wolves squad when it comes to creating attacks and he is sharing the first place with Jarvis at assists.

The stability and the defensive qualities of the team in midfield becomes better with Jones in the team, but if we want the sharp edge of the attack and to create more attacks we should chose Milijas. Maybe we should play Milijas against the teams in our own league and Jones against the better teams – like Manchester United?!  But this is of course in the hands of Mick McCarthy and I believe he will pick Jones nine times out of ten, because of the qualities as an all-round midfielder he shows in the stats above. Who would you pick? Discuss below!



~ by paddytheflea on March 5, 2010.

5 Responses to “Milijas or Jones – a tough choice for McCarthy. Who is really the best?”

  1. I think Milijas at least should be used as a substitute – maybe in 60-70 minute. His workrate has increased but is not as high as Jones. Where have Mccarthy’s rotation system gone? Our style of play demands a lot of our players.

    • I agree. Or play Milijas in the second half if Jones is not creating chances for the team. Stability is not everything. A friend of mine thought that Milijas should have played against Bolton away as he was so successful plying them at home. I think he was right. It may weaken the team a bit defensively, but with Guedioura in midfield now and Henry playing as a holding midfielder, I believe that it would work pretty well anyway.

      But I believe that Jones must show more going forward. He must find those deep passes between the defenders of the opposing team to Doyle and Jarvis that opens up play and creates chances. If not, then Milijas is a better option.

  2. A very interesting well researched piece. Well done and thanks.
    This gives some credence to my own subjective view of these two.
    In September, I thought Jones was excellent against Man.Utd. in the Cup game I watched on a wet afternoon in Majorca. The Premier is a physical league and Jones is better suited to it than Milijas.
    I like them both but feel that Milijas looks rather slight in “tussling” situations, and is often bettered. Technically. perhaps Milijas has the edge but I think this league was something of a shock to him, whereas Jones had the experience of a season with Derby in the Premier.There is no doubt that they are both assets to the club and it seems a pity that they can’t both play.
    As an aside, I would understand if Doyle felt pretty hacked off with the job he is asked to do , both home and away. I can’t imagine him staying next season, whatever the outcome.

    • Thank you, Clive!
      It takes some time to compile these kind of articles and very few actually read them, so I’m not doing them that often anymore. But I was corious about this myself and wanted to know what the stats could reveal about the dfferences. And much of it was a confirmation of my pre-thoughts as well. I hope and do believe we can make more use of Milijas. He hs showed he can score and create attacks and assist. The jury is still out on Jones regarding this. That one goal could have been a fluke. I want to see more of him going forward. And I hope he has the permission and confidence to do that.

  3. I think Milijas has more class, but Jones is more used to the Premiership.
    They could probably play well together though, since in my opinion Henry is no more than only mistakes.

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