Whilst he hasn’t grabbed the headlines in the wake of Hearts’ 2-1 victory over Hibs, it’s undeniable how important Glenn Whelan will be to their cause this term.
The experienced Irishman was a standout performer on what was a pivotal afternoon for Hearts. His class was there for all spectators to see in Leith.
Whelan turned in a display at Easter Road that demonstrated why he has been at the top for so long.
When on form, Whelan makes Hearts tick
Defensive midfielders are so important in modern football. They protect the back four and link the engine room to attack from deep areas.
Across the city, Hibs have really struggled without their defensive anchors. After letting Marvin Bartley and Mark Milligan go, their defence has been exposed due to a lack of midfield protection.
Craig Levein has made sure that doesn’t happen at Hearts. Against Hibs especially, he showed so much composure and defensive nous that only he can bring to the Jambos centre.
This is due to his high level experience, having made over 275 Premier League appearances and 88 Ireland runouts.
He can take the game by the scruff of the neck in midfield. Whelan manages to do this smoothly, whether that be with a controlled pass or just keeping the ball at his feet for a second longer.
It’s really interesting to watch and it helps Hearts in a big way. It allows the likes of Andy Irving to slot in alongside him and learn from the talent and experience the 35-year-old has.
Whelan has taken to the SPFL like a duck to water, showing he’ll be a big player for Levein this term.