A 13th place finish saw Aston Villa consolidate in the Championship after their relegation from the Premier League the year prior.
Heading towards the 2017/18 season, Steve Bruce was aiming to shape the squad he inherited from Roberto Di Matteo and add more players in his second transfer window with the club.
After a summer of upheaval the year before, only four permanent signings were confirmed with the loan arrivals of five other players for the season.
The Aston Villa finances were more restricted having not won promotion the previous year; it was a season that felt like it was make-or-break for the Championship club.
Two signings arrived on free transfers with two coming in for fees.
The most expensive summer arrival to the club was confirmed on July 20, 2017.
Glenn Whelan signed for £1million from Stoke City.
✍️ We are delighted to announce the signing of Glenn Whelan from @StokeCity…
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) July 20, 2017
The midfield general signed a two-year deal with the club, and despite his age, many of the club’s supporters were in agreement that it was a great piece of business from Bruce.
— AVFC Wakefield (@Dalkeef1981) July 20, 2017
Potentially key signing. Welcome Glenn ????
— Sherlock H (@MatelotSherlock) July 20, 2017
— Chris Dolan (@chris_dolan) July 20, 2017
Shrewd signing in my opinion. Get rid of dead wood now (including a forward) and replace with another decent forward and I'm happy #avfc
— The Two Rons (@tonyglloyd) July 20, 2017
Great signing always gave his all for Stoke so hope he does the same for Villa ????
— CarterTony (@MrAnthonyCarter) July 20, 2017
— Aido (@HandofEmery) July 20, 2017
Aston Villa had a soft centre the year before, and by Bruce bringing in the combative middle man, they looked to have a squad that had added tenacity and industry in abundance.
And for a 33-year-old, his involvement was impressive.
Whelan made 38 appearances in all competitions for Villa during his debut season and scored his only goal in a 4-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday on February 24, 2018.
A mainstay in Bruce’s side, he was integral to the club making strides on their previous position the year before and finishing fourth after a much improved and consistent season
Whelan had played a part all season and twice in the post-season play-offs to get Villa to Wembley in the play-off final.
But he was dropped on that occasion, remaining an unused substitute in a match Villa would lose.
They would have to make do with a place in the second tier for a third consecutive season.
Having been such a stalwart for the club, the 2018/19 campaign continued to see Whelan play somewhat regularly for Villa.
Under Bruce, and now new manager Dean Smith, the 34-year-old is still an active member of the squad having played nine times this term and has recently found himself back in the side after a month out of it in September.
The arrival of Whelan sparked positive reactions form plenty of the Villa supporters, and that looked to be a consensus shared by many if not all.
It was a clever bit of business for the money spent, and despite his age, he has the necessary experience that can only help Villa for the rest of the season after being influential in their run to Wembley last year.