As winter transfer windows go, it’s been eventful in Norwich.
Lewis Grabban out of the door, four new faces in, the Matt Jarvis deal and now Gary Hooper has packed his bags (and expensive trainer collection) to join the revolution taking place up in the blue half of Sheffield.
The fates of our other ‘errant’ strikers Kyle Lafferty and Ricky van Wolfswinkel remain in the balance at time of writing.
But back to Hooper. What’s to be made of his time with the Canaries? Was he a super-Hooper or the Canaries’ Hooper-man?
These are the goal stats for our ex-£5 million man from Celtic.
2 – Watford (A) – League Cup
1 – West Ham (H) pen
1 – C. Palace (H)
1 – West Brom (A)
1 – Swansea (H)
1 – Fulham (H)
1 – Liverpool (H)
Total: 8 (6 Prem, 2 League Cup)
1 – Brighton (H)
1 – Reading (H)
2 – Millwall (H)
1 – Bournemouth (A)
1 – Cardiff (H)
3 – Blackpool (H) 1 pen
1 – Millwall (A) pen
1 – Bolton (A)
1 – Rotherham (A)
Total: 12 (All Championship)
65 league games – 26 (or 40 per cent) as substitute.
20 goals (3 pens) in 70 games in total. Or, to put it another way, £250,000 per goal.
Value for money? Sadly not.
There were some highlights for sure – that crucial last gasp winner at Bolton and the equaliser in that great win at table-topping Bournemouth on Alex Neil’s first day in the office most notably.
However, Hooper’s time was plagued by injury and with being out of favour with successive bosses when he was fit. Often, when given the chance, he cut a slow and not quite with it character in his first season at the top level.
The level below saw him still playing second and third fiddle to Cameron Jerome and Grabban. And he was an unused substitute at Wembley to boot.
The nettle was there for him to grasp at times but he wasn’t quick enough or, maybe, even determined enough.
Overall, a disappointing stay with us for a man who came with a big reputation in the summer of 2013, and who at the time was keen to force his way into the England squad for Brazil. It’s hard to believe now.
Two and a half years on and that international stage is long gone as Hooper tries to rediscover his fading mojo back in the Championship.
No question, he is a very good poacher from within the five to ten yard range and has the occasional belter from further out in his locker (goals vs Bolton and Swansea for example). His two recent goals for Wednesday against Leeds were ‘classic’ Hooper. Others did the work and he pounced on the scraps from short range.
In a front two with a willing and athletic striking partner, Hooper is an ideal man. In the predominantly lone striking role favoured by us and most others now in the Premier League, he was never going to be top dog.
I wish him well at his new club, who look a good bet for a play-off place as things stand although there are plenty of twists and turns yet to happen as we experienced last season.
And what does Hooper leave behind? Well, a developing squad that Alex Neil is gradually moulding in his own image.
The leftovers of previous managers are slowly disappearing from view, some of whom played crucial parts in our promotion back to the big time, and others who were more peripheral.
There are new faces on the training pitch and – the Liverpool craziness aside – renewed optimism in the minds of the faithful.
And after the fallout from Saturday, it’s time to move on, look forward and to knuckle down and give it our all, the last of which Gary Hooper never quite managed to achieve in the yellow and green.