Over the last few months, footie pundits and experts have pointed out that there have been three players who have dominated many of Villa’s victories. The combo of Tammy Abraham, Jack Grealish and John McGinn included in any line up have either meant victory or just…not losing.
These three players, alongside Anwar El-Ghazi, Jed Steer and Tyrone Mings have made up an increasingly strong core to the Villa team. Which has been boosted by the teams’ head coach Dean Smith and deputies including John Terry. The all-round improvements, starting with a higher standard of coaching have meant that all the players have benefited and it’s now showing on the pitch. But what about Glenn Whelan?
Glenn Whelan…Unsung Hero?
It could be argued that one of the unsung heroes of the team, and the person who has more than likely had the biggest ‘quiet improvement’ for Villa is Whelan. On paper, any placing bets perhaps wouldn’t have put odds on him. After all, he’s considered a veteran now. But take a closer look and you’ll see that during matches he commands the midfield and make it his own.
Sometimes, quiet confidence is what can see a player through. The former Stoke midfielder has a strong belief in Smith’s long term game plan. He is a composed footballer, and this stolid workmanship means that he plays a huge part in forming an unbreakable backbone in the team. His patience and determination mean that he’ll bide his time waiting for the right attacking opportunity, rather than steaming in and missing a chance.
It’s more than likely he’ll make the right pass, and stats show that on average, his tactics are right ninety per cent of the time. During any counter-attack, take note, Whelan will be there, biding his time and waiting patiently after hunting down an attack. As part of a solid midfield team, he’s indispensable.
Let’s not run away with ourselves and get carried away. As a veteran, he’s often knocked by the press, particularly those writing in opposition. He struggles to change a pass in order to benefit a team-mate. He can sometimes be overly aggressive, which can often not be in Villa’s favour.
Often there are opportunities for him to shoot and score, and he fails to capitalise on these. But, it’s impossible to find a single footballer who hasn’t done this at some stage. Whelan, has, in some Villa circles been unfairly castigated and criticised by fans who couldn’t understand why he was always included in the team when he didn’t seem to bring much to the field.
An Underrated Player
What can we say about Whelan? He’s good enough. It’s strong praise for a man who is now often one of the first names on the team sheet. Now his name is bandied around Villa Park in earnest, and not as an afterthought. How many footballers can say they’ve fought back against the ire of fans who have already formed a hard line and distinct opinions against you? Whelan has always dug in and fought back.
However, has he done enough to stay at Villa Park for another year? Many are saying this will more than likely be his last season in a Villa shirt. Just think again before relegating him to the back of the mind. A few short months ago it seemed he was on his way out, but the coaching improvements and pulling together of the team has meant that the quiet man’s stock has risen. If the team want to continue to use him, they’d do well to remember he probably has more than a few decent footballing seasons left in him, so he shouldn’t be ruled out.