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Chris Lakey, @EDPChrisLakey
Monday, March 3, 2014
I have often wondered what goes through a footballer’s mind at certain crucial stages of his playing career – but what the hell was Wes Hoolahan thinking of in the seconds after he scored Norwich City’s goal at Villa Park on Sunday?
Three minutes into a game that City were desperate to get something from, Hoolahan did the unthinkable, and scored to put the Canaries ahead.
City couldn’t have asked for a better start. The fans were jubilant, the extra frisson provided by the presence of former manager Paul Lambert in the hosts’ dug-out serving to make it a little bit sweeter.
The City players were equally delighted. Except one: Hoolahan.
There was hardly an acknowledgement that he had scored and if it hadn’t been for his team-mates jumping all over him, you wouldn’t have been any the wiser.
- Age: 31
- Joined Norwich from Blackpool in the summer of 2008
- Is the club’s longest-serving player with 209 total appearances, 34 of which have come as a substitute
- Has scored 37 goals for the Canaries during his five and a half years with the club
- The Irishman has started 14 matches in all competitions for City this season and been used as a substitute in a further five
- His goal at Villa Park yesterday was his first of the season and his first for Chris Hughton’s side since a 1-1 draw at Sunderland in March 2013
- Has earned seven caps for the Republic of Ireland and is included in Martin O’Neill and Roy Keane’s squad for a friendly against Serbia at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday night, as is City team-mate Anthony Pilkington
Now, I have absolutely no idea if there was something non football related going on. I hope not, given that a week ago we had the sight of chief executive David McNally wiping away a tear after City had beaten Spurs, discovering soon after that he was grieving for the recent loss of his father.
Clearly, it is dangerous to jump to conclusions.
For the moment, I will take the risk, because there are clearly other circumstances which come into play here, given that Aston Villa wanted to sign Hoolahan in January and Hoolahan wanted to go.
It was a difficult situation for all concerned, but it appeared to have been smoothed over, with Chris Hughton saying he had spoken to the player and he was committed to the cause.
Frankly, that’s not how it appeared just after half past four on Sunday.
If I were to make a snap judgment (I did) I would say Hoolahan wishes he had been allowed to go to Villa. What other explanation for the total non celebration of his first goal in nigh on a year?
At this juncture it would normally be appropriate to tot up how much any one of the travelling City fans might have splashed out to follow their team to Villa Park – match ticket, fuel, food and drink etc.
However, the greater cost may well be in terms of respect – the respect anyone who plays football should show for the fans.
Hoolahan’s failure to celebrate was hardly respectful of the travelling fans. They put an awful lot into following City, they are entitled to something in return.
It has to be said that Hoolahan didn’t appear to lack commitment during the course of the game, but acting as if you didn’t care that you had scored a goal for their team – in fact, acting as if it bothered you more than it pleased you – is hard to swallow.
The other scenario, of course, is that Hoolahan has discovered a twist on the ridiculous habit of not celebrating a goal against a former team – by not celebrating one against a future team.
What do you think?
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