February 8th, 2019 was a Friday until it swiftly morphed into Glenn Whelan Day around 9:20 p.m.
To say things were a bit tense at the time, within the confines of Villa Park, is a tad downplaying it. The long-suffering Aston Villa faithful had just watched Billy Sharp complete his hat-trick for visitors Sheffield United, with Dean Smith's will-they-won't-they outfit most definitely mired on one their 'they won't' nights.
Emotions were understandably high. Of course, they were. And we're sure Dean Smith is a good guy, but in the 66th minute and at 3-0 down, he consciously or sub-consciously threw Glenn Whelan to the lions.
Stern frustration quickly escalated to downright wrath at the sight of the Irish holding midfielder taking to the field, in a like-for-like swap with Mile Jedinak.
Cue Twitter barrage.
About sums up the state of my club right down.
3-0 down at home and take off one complete and utter pile of shite in Mile Jedinak and replace him with an even bigger pile of shite in Glenn Whelan.
Who is the mug that actually pays to watch this!!!!!!??
— 🅻🅷.24 (@LH___24) February 8, 2019
— Tom Higgs (@TomHiggsWWFC) February 8, 2019
— Sporting Life Football (@SportingLifeFC) February 8, 2019
“He doesn’t look like a footballer, he looks like a fan”. Isobel on Glenn Whelan
— JM (@_jackmcmanus) February 8, 2019
And our personal favourite...
But look, at least Ross was happy.
Mike Jedinak is making me want Glenn Whelan to play. That's how bad it's got #avfc
— rosshawkes (@rosshawkes) February 8, 2019
Half an hour later, and the Irish Iniesta had instigated a revival of gladiatorial proportions.
Once Whelan had given the beleaguered Brummies a foothold in midfield, things quickly began to turn. Tyrone Mings headed home Conor Houihane's 82nd-minute cross, before Blades 'keeper Dean Henderson gifted Tammy Abraham a tap-in four minutes from time. Suddenly, redemption was in grasp for the Dubliner. If only Villa could find an equalizer.
Step forward Andre Green, and whilst the club Youtube channel commentator wasn't too excited, check out those fans around 9 and a half minutes in.
When the dust had settled, there was only one name being carried on the Birmingham night air.
There is only one...Glenn Whelan!
— HolteEndHero1982 (@HolteEndHero82) February 8, 2019
Glenn Whelan you absolute hero. #avfc
— Villa Views (@VillaViews_) February 8, 2019
The draw was enough to keep Villa in the top ten in the Championship, six points of the playoffs as the Claret and Blues look for a return to the Premier League they trap-doored from at the end of the 2016/17 season.