Can no-one just judge Wes Hoolahan for themselves?
Wes Hoolahan is not Zidane.
He's not a world beater.
He is 35. He has played in just 17 of Norwich's 27 league games this season. He's even misplaced passes before.
Why's any of that really relevant? Can no-one just watch a game and judge him as a footballer and judge him on the impact he has on every match he plays?
Wes is gonna Wes https://t.co/eRNMiVkT5t
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) January 18, 2018
For some reason, praise of Wes Hoolahan attracts immediate vitriol. People don't even need to listen to your points before they fire out the same three lines:
- He's 35
- He's not Zidane, for fuck's sake
- He doesn't even play for Norwich
They're counterpoints which actually have nothing to do with the praise or with the ability of Hoolahan.
Ryan Giggs played for United until he was 40 but it's not even necessary to come back with an example like that because whatever number of years Hoolahan's been on this planet really doesn't trump what we can all see when we're just watching the game. Anybody who watches Wes Hoolahan play wouldn't need to have an argument about his age and they wouldn't need to talk about other golden oldies. They would just rationalise that he's just been, again, the most exciting player on the pitch and they would soon realise that he was, again, more effective than any 27-year-old in the same position.
No-one ever once said Wes Hoolahan is as good as one of the best players the world has ever seen. But he is, by a depressing distance, the most creative Irish footballer in the country right now and he is the most comfortable player on the ball in Ireland. No, he's not Zidane, okay. But is he better than Hendrick? Is he better than McGeady? Is he better than Glenn f**king Whelan? Do Ireland need to play the way they play? Do they need as many defence-minded players? Does Wes Hoolahan improve them when he's on the pitch? Then what else is there to talk about?
And, no, he doesn't start for Norwich every game. He probably does need more rest than others but not to the unacceptable extent that saw his game time for the World Cup qualifying campaign plummet. And, again, why did Alex Neil's opinion matter more to you than what you could actually see with your own eyes? Alex Neil was afraid to play Hoolahan too much because he was afraid to play too much ball. Norwich, for many different other reasons although that definitely didn't help, continued to slide and Neil got the sack. Now Daniel Farke's fear of deploying a creative ball-player is the credence people need to dismiss Hoolahan. A manager most have never heard of obviously not keen on a footballer who takes 'risks', his reluctance to try and win games as his first philosophy is held in higher regard than what the public can see for themselves.
Stop talking about how much he plays for Norwich. Just tell me what you see yourself when you watch him.
Whenever Hoolahan does get his chance - even if it's just from the 80th minute against Chelsea - he changes the game and he gives everyone something worth talking about.
If he never hit the heights the literature says he could have, then questions need to be asked about the British and Irish culture, not of his ability. When he's in the Premier League, he stars. When he takes on any level of opposition, like the league champions on Tuesday night, he isn't daunted. We shouldn't be using as an argument the fact that bigger clubs - outside of Villa - didn't try to poach him or that Trapattoni ignored him, we should be embarrassed by that as football nations. We should be embarrassed that someone obviously better at football than most people he plays with isn't propelled to the same heights in football because of how we view footballers.
The anger should be directed at the system, not at those raving about Hoolahan. If you actually just watched him play and judged him as a footballer, you might just accept that, no, he's not as good as Zidane was but maybe, just maybe, he was and is good enough to be used more by Ireland.
And maybe I shouldn't just use Daniel Farke's instincts as gospel.