Lazy. That’s what some describe Conor Hourihane as. Lazy. Would we describe the ‘Man with No Name’ as lazy though? When he strolls into a dusty town, slowly slinging one boot before another as the flute of Ennio Morricone serenades the sizzle of his gaze? You’d go for cool, right? Cool. That’s a better word for Conor Hourihane, and boy, this guy can shoot.
Villa’s own gunslinger strolls about the pitch with a careful balance of fury and ice-cool nerve. Ready to start fires and silence doubters with a shrug of his shoulder. A piercing gaze awaits those who stand before him when the Irishman lines up a free-kick. It stands to reason that any free-kick he’s standing over will soon be a goal.
Cool as you like. Every single time.
Being tacked with the label of ‘defensive midfielder’ is arguably the worst thing to have happened to Conor Hourihane in a Villa shirt. It has created a whole new set of expectations that don’t use Hourihane’s skills at all. Simply because he sits deeper, doesn’t mean he’s at all defensive. We expect him to fulfil a role that he’s simply not going to fulfil. What’s more, others have sowed doubt because of armchair analysis of Conor’s supposed ‘role’. That old trick.
During his academy days in Ireland, Hourihane was begged to show a bit more effort by a coach. The well-to-do bosses were in the stands and weren’t impressed with his performances at half-time. Hourihane slammed in five goals after the break. After being cast away by a few youth teams, Conor got promoted from League Two. After being told he might not cut it in League One, he led Barnsley to promotion. Your mates then said he’ll not make the grade in the Championship - but oh my did he make that grade. Then he moved to Villa and took them to the Premier League. Don’t say he didn’t do that, either - because you know it was only he that could find that sacred slice of turf in Villa Park - just enough space to wallop home a cool shot. Now you’re telling me that this man isn’t cut out for Premier League football? Give me a break.
Oh, and it’s pronounced ‘How-Ri-Han’