Aston Villa stalwart Conor Hourihane is set to join Swansea City on loan this winter.
Words: Andy Bates | @k2_villa
Aston Villa midfielder Conor Hourihane is set to join Swansea on a loan deal until the end of the current season, it has been announced today.
Whilst this may not come as any great surprise to Villa fans, it represents a sad day as another promotion / survival hero departs, after somewhat falling out of favour during Dean Smith’s Villa revolution.
Indeed the Irish international has often divided opinion and sparked Twitter debates, over his ability and general usefulness within Smith’s system. However one certain aspect remains beyond doubt, in particular his exemplary goals and assists return. Hourihane is one of the highest scoring Villa midfielders since David Platt 30 years ago, with an impressive 23 and has often been the ‘go to guy’ for Dean Smith and Steve Bruce before him, to provide an attacking spark.
Despite this, fans have often questioned what else he offers the team in midfield and it seems that it was only a matter of time before Conor was shifted aside, in favour of a silkier or more talented operator. Indeed, Hourihane has made a positive start to the season, scoring and assisting in Villa’s 3-0 win against Fulham, only to be replaced by on-loan Ross Barkley for the subsequent matches. The hope will now be that the Villa recruitment department can secure the services of a midfielder who can provide a similar output, whilst helping to improve the team’s quality overall.
Hourihane meanwhile, will arrive on the South Wales coast in the midst of a promotion battle. Swansea currently sit 2nd, 10 points ahead of 7th place Middlesbrough, so one way or another, Conor’s experience of consecutive Play-Off campaigns with Villa, should prove invaluable.
Beyond that wealth of experience and nose for a goal, Hourihane will offer the Swans total commitment on the field. He will also be flexible in where he operates in midfield having played, not only in attacking positions, but also filling in as a defensive midfielder for large parts of his Villa career. A fact which makes his goal return even more remarkable.
Despite the odd dissenting voice, Hourihane will largely be missed by the fan base and we all wish him well for the season. He has provided a wealth of great moments in claret and blue, not least his thunderbolt strike against West Bromwich Albion, to set up the famous 2 legged Play-Off Semi-Final victory. He followed that up with a ‘Man of the Match’ display at Wembley, as Villa secured their return to the top flight.
Hopefully he will return to Bodymoor Heath in the summer with another Championship promotion under his belt, when further decisions will be made about his future.
Go n-eiri an t-adh leat, Conor.