Could experience be crucial in helping Villa get promotion?
If last season wasn’t depressing enough for supporters of Aston Villa, then starting this season in The Championship could be even worse, couldn’t it? But Manager Steve Bruce wants promotion straight back up but he obviously believes he needs experience, and after signing John Terry from Chelsea & Ahmed Elmohamady from Hull, he now looks set to sign Irish International Glenn Whelan from Stoke. But what does Glenn Whelan give you?
Well, he’s a 33yr old footballer who has been with Premier League Club Stoke City since January 2008. Signed by then Manager Tony Pulis for a mere 500k from Sheffield Wednesday, the Irish midfielder first helped Stoke clinch promotion in his 1st season there, before going onto make 277 appearances in the top flight for the Potters over the last 9 seasons, playing at least 26 games each season and has been an inspiration to many. Often handed the captaincy, this guy works his socks off, gets stuck in and is just the sort of defensive midfielder Manager Steve Bruce needs to help Villa get straight back into the Premiership at the 1st attempt.
These days you often hear about footballers moaning if they don’t play, but Glenn Whelan isn’t one of them. He’s seen many midfielders come and go in his time with The Potters but he’s always relished the competition, got his head down and more often than not, overcome it, despite players costing a lot more than he did!
Rumours has it that Glenn Whelan has had his medical and is set to complete a deal which could be worth up to £1.5m. He had 12 months left on a contract extension he signed last year and was prepared to buckle down and fight for a starting shirt with the Potters. However, after returning to training with Stoke last week on a pre-season trip to Switzerland, he saw Irish and Stoke colleague Jon Walters leave after 7 seasons playing alongside him & perhaps feels that now is a good time to leave Stoke, especially after they’ve signed Darren Fletcher from WBA & are trying to sign Fabian Delph from Man City.
At the end of last season, Glenn told local paper The Sentinel “"In the nine years I've been here I don't think there's been a transfer window gone by without a new midfielder coming in.
"Whatever I have I will always give. We have ups and downs, I have ups and downs and I'm still here fighting. I will go into next season as I go into this season, working hard and see where it gets me”
It’s this sort of attitude which has perhaps convinced Villa Manager Steve Bruce that Whelan is just the guy to help him and the club. He saw Newcastle clinch promotion straight back into the Prem at the 1st attempt, and will hope they can do the same.
There’s lots of big clubs like Villa who perhaps expected to come straight up after relegation, but it doesn’t always work like that does it? You only have to ask the fans of clubs such as Leeds, Sheff Wed, Derby etc. It’s not always as expected, is it?
Clubs like Villa will be seen as a big scalp for some of the smaller clubs in the league. Teams raise their game against the big-boys and Villa must be aware of that come this season. A passionate home crowd can make a difference, but the passion needs to come from the players and Glenn Whelan & John Terry are perfect examples of players that can provide that passion and build a strong link between players and fans. However, they can dress it up how they like, but the Championship is no match for the top-flight, and both players would love a final stab at playing in the Prem for Villa. If so, they need to build on the clubs’ mistakes last season, and you would expect their ability, enthusiasm and passion to help this become a reality. If so they could be back in the Premiership within 12 months!