Gary Mackay: Why Glenn Whelan is already an instrumental part of Hearts’ team
Holding midfield is such an important part of any team and it seems Hearts have signed realy quality in that department with Glenn Whelan.
He has taken a few weeks to get up to speed after arriving but his display against Hibs was one of the standouts of a massive afternoon.
He is 35 now but you can see the talent and competitive instinct are both still there in abundance. At Easter Road on Sunday, he delivered a performance befitting of an experienced internationalist who has played at the top level.
Even though he is getting older and he might well feel it in his legs, you could tell he has been about the leagues and knows exactly what he is doing.
I thought he brought so much composure in the middle of the park and he was excellent for Hearts. The midfield has been without that kind of experience in recent years so it’s great to see someone of Whelan’s stature taking command on the big occasion.
He has the ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck and have an impact on others who are younger than him. Steven Naismith does that too, albeit in a slightly different way. Whelan does it in a kind of calm and knowledgeable fashion and it’s really enjoyable to watch. I was very impressed with him.
There has to be balance in any squad and, because of the huge amount of experience Hearts have throughout the team right now, you can put one or two younger lads in. They can the feed off that experience and learn from it to develop their own game.
The win against Hibs was critical and Whelan was hugely influential in it, although nobody should be getting carried away.
Sunday was a small step, although it did come in an Edinburgh derby. That makes it better for the supporters but now the players and coaches need to understand it’s about keeping these supporters as happy as possible for as many weeks as possible.
It’s been the opposite way recently so hopefully this is the beginning of a positive upturn.