Glenn Whelan admits he felt like he was ‘thrown under a bus’ by Hearts manager Daniel Stendel and has branded the club ‘amateurish’ following his departure.
The vastly experienced 91-times capped Republic of Ireland international officially left Hearts by mutual agreement on Tuesday following 17 appearances in a four-month spell.
The midfielder is the second high profile casualty of Stendel’s reign, with club captain Christophe Berra having been told he is free to find a new club, a decision that left the defender ‘hurt and angry’.
The writing was on the wall for Whelan at the Tynecastle side when Stendel publicly criticised the 35-year-old on December 27, saying: “It’s not Glenn’s fault – but a real leader in the centre of the pitch? Sorry. Maybe I missed it.”
However, former Aston Villa, Stoke City and Sheffield Wednesday player Whelan has launched a staunch defence of his time in Gorgie and insists the German had it in for him the minute he walked through the door.
Whelan, whose last appearance for the Premiership basement side was the December 21 loss at Hamilton, said: “I do feel let down, the way my name is out there and it feels like I have been thrown under a bus.
“Things were being said about me, that I didn’t fancy it, I was laying down the tools. No way was that the case on my part.
“I can’t accept him questioning my leadership skills or saying I didn’t do the job. I did the job I was asked.
“I don’t think he was watching the games if the manager felt like that.
“Although results weren’t great, I though I was playing well, my form was good, but the manager came in and wanted to show his power, show the other players that he’s the boss, he’s the main man.
“When the new manager came in, the first person he spoke to was me.
“He was already having a bit of a go.
“In training, I think he did things to show the other players, especially the younger players, that he was the boss, he was nit-picking with things I was doing in training.
“If you ask any Hearts fan I’d like to think they’d say I was willing and I was trying. I played eight home game and got five man of the match awards. I was doing all I could but overall confidence was low.
“I wasn’t going around the place grumpy or banging down his door. I kept my head down and trained hard, I did all that was asked of me, I was professional.”
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Whelan, who had signed a one-year deal under former manager Craig Levein, added: “We played Celtic at home (on December 18), we were 2-0 down at half-time when he brought me on.
“After the game he had a pop at me. We were 2-0 down when I came on and we lost 2-0, how can that be my fault?”
Whelan insists he was completely frozen out by Stendel in the build up to the Boxing Day 2-0 loss to rivals Hibernian.
He added: “At 9.10pm on Christmas night there was a message in the players’ group chat, that they only wanted 18 players in the squad for the next day. And I wasn’t in it – that was the first I knew of it.
“So they played Hibs on St Stephen’s Day and I wasn’t involved.
“I had the kids up there with me, I was more than happy to go and be part of the game.”
Whelan was then omitted from the two training groups the day after the game.
He explained: “I wasn’t in either group. My name wasn’t even on the sheet.
“I went to the manager to try and have a word but he was watching videos of the Hibs game and said he didn’t have time to speak to me.
“I went to the gym, did a bit of work on my own, got showered and went back home. That was the last of it for me at Hearts.”
Whelan was also critical of the club over the way his departure was handled.
He added: “They call themselves a professional football club but I never heard anything from anyone at Hearts.
“On Monday night, I got an email from someone at the club with the contract details, asking me to sign so we could go our separate ways. I didn’t ask for any money, I was happy to just go. But it was all very amateurish from their side.
“New managers can come in with new ideas. That’s football. But to be let down the way I was and be treated the way I was, with no one at Hearts having the decency to speak to me or give me a call – that’s disappointing.”