It’s hoped that when players from Premier League clubs join Championship clubs on loan, they’ll make an instant impact. Conor Hourihane, who signed for Swansea City on loan from Aston Villa in January, has done just that.
Swansea manager Steve Cooper has had success in the past when taking players on loan from Premier League clubs. Liverpool loanee Rhian Brewster was one such success for the Swans and Hourihane now appears to be another. The 30-year-old midfielder has fit seamlessly into the team. He could become the most important signing of the Championship season.
Conor Hourihane Could Prove to be the Championship’s Most Crucial Signing
A Statement of Intent
After Kasey Palmer and Morgan Gibbs-White returned to their parent clubs earlier this season, Swansea entered the market for a midfielder. As it emerged that Conor Hourihane had become a target, it also came to light that Bournemouth had interest in the Aston Villa man.
When it was announced that the Republic of Ireland international had signed for the Welsh club, it was seen as a statement signing. Not only had Swansea beaten their promotion rivals to Hourihane’s signature, but they had gained a player with immense Championship experience.
Hourihane signed for Aston Villa in January 2017 and went on to make over 100 Championship appearances for the club. In his two full seasons for Villa in the second-tier, the club made the play-off final each year. Hourihane started both matches and eventually helped Villa win promotion in 2019.
This is why Hourihane’s signing is so significant for Steve Cooper and Swansea. Much is made out of having the ‘right kind of player’ in the Championship or at least having a player with Championship experience. Hourihane was evidently a key contributor for both Steve Bruce and Dean Smith when they were chasing promotion. He could prove to be exactly that for Swansea City.
Having someone in the dressing room who knows what it takes to win promotion is vital for any team with Premier League aspirations. Especially a young team like Swansea, who lost in the play-off semi-finals last season.
Hourihane’s New Role
Cooper has Hourihane playing in a more advanced role for Swansea. This appears to be working wonders for both player and club. He cannot stop scoring, and Swansea cannot stop winning.
Hourihane has scored three goals in as many games for his new side. He’s already become the club’s highest-scoring midfielder this season. His first was the equaliser against Brentford, which rescued a point after Kyle Naughton had been sent off. His most recent was a 25-yard effort into the bottom corner that secured a 2-0 win against Norwich City. As such, Hourihane is yet to lose a match as a Swansea player.
Hourihane scored 11 and seven goals in his last two Championship seasons respectively. He has previously shown his capabilities as an attacker, but it was never his sole role in the Aston Villa set up. Pushing Hourihane further forward has provided him more opportunities to score, or to display his abilities as a passer. As such, he’s become an integral part of the team in an incredibly short space of time.
It became clear that Hourihane’s wish to gain more playing time was behind his decision to join Swansea. Also, after saying that his “career is too short to be sitting around”, it appears that Cooper and Swansea have a player with a point to prove. This can only be a positive, particularly with the club currently third in the Championship table and only two points behind leaders Norwich.
Conor Hourihane has experience, desire and new-found form. He has everything to become the signing of the season in the Championship, especially if the season ends with Swansea City going up to the Premier League.