Talismanic left winger Darren Huckerby was so loved at Carrow Road, that most male Norwich fans would have happily dry-humped the bloke. So, when Glenn Roeder decided to offload Hucks at the end of 2008, the incoming replacement was always going to have his work cut out. At five feet six inches (yet weighing in at a surprising 11st.3lb), Wes Hoolahan signed for City from Blackpool in 2008 for £250,000. The little fella didn’t have Hucks’ stocky physique or reputation, and the team he was slotted into was quite frankly miserable.
When the ejector seat finally popped Roeder into orbit, shortly before relegation to League One, Hoolahan had shown promise but had ultimately disappointed with just two 2 goals in 27 league appearances. So, when Paul Lambert took over after the short-lived reign of Bryan Gunn, days after the humiliating 7-1 defeat inflicted on the Canaries by Paul Lambert’s Colchester, Wes ended up being the greatest beneficiary. Usually slotted in behind the front two of a midfield diamond – rather than on the left – Wes shone. A tricky, mazy runner, with a good shot and touch, Hoolahan was causing all kinds of damage with 14 goals in all competitions.
Whether Wes will be picked against more combative midfields remains to be seen
The good form of the Republic of Ireland international, and the team, continued after City went up as Champions of League One. The 29-year-old’s stand-out performance last season (in which he bagged 10 from 36 league appearances, five as a sub) was arguably the home tie against Leicester with two goals – including a cracking 30-yard half-volley – and an assist.
Whether Wes will be picked against more combative midfields remains to be seen, but he has the speed and deftness of touch to turn a game. If he can evade injury, Hoolahan could be a potent substitute in potential stalemates. Up until this point Lambert has never really played for a point – and that could change – but if he sticks to attacking displays, he could be eyeing Wes as the final Matador to take down a stubborn bull.
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