At one point it looked Glenn Whelan was about to become Villa’s scapegoat. Our Ashley Westwood or Leandro Bacuna. Now it seems most Villans have come round to the idea of having the Irishman in our midfield. However, if you haven’t, here’s five reasons why you should rate Glenn Whelan.
1. For his passing ability
Statistically, Whelan is Villa’s best passing midfielder this term, with 81% of his passes finding their target. Also, 85% of his passes are short, which is much better compared to Mile Jedinak, arguably his direct rival in the starting line up, with 68% this season. Want a ball playing CDM? Whelan’s your man.
2. For his discipline
Whelan may have picked up a lot of yellow cards, but in 336 games for Stoke City, the Irishman was only sent off once. Whelan, like Gareth Barry, is a master of the tactical foul, but knows when to draw the line.
3. For his experience
It might seem really cliche to say that a 33 year-old should be rated because of his experience and influence in the dressing room, but many who played with Whelan at Stoke say just that.
The former Potters midfielder isn’t afraid to criticise too. After an FA Cup defeat away to Blackburn in 2015, Whelan laid into his team in the press, and presumably in the dressing room afterwards too. It makes you question if anyone in a Villa shirt was doing that when we were on a bad run at the start of last season.
4. For his consistency
Was it a coincidence that when Villa went on an eight game undefeated streak, Whelan was pretty much a staple in the team? The short answer is no. The Irishman knew his role in midfield, when to press and when not to press and where to be at what time.
5. For his tenacity
Now I’m not saying Whelan is Aston Villa’s answer to N’golo Kante, because he clearly isn’t, but a lot of the Irishman’s running off the ball does go unnoticed a lot of the time. Whether it be chasing down a striker or covering Hutton at full-back, Whelan is rarely a passenger.