Swansea City made some smart transfer business in the January window, but none more-so than managing to bring Conor Hourihane to the Liberty Stadium for the rest of the season.
The Swans also tapped into the MLS market with the loan signings of Jordan Morris and Paul Arriola, but you can’t beat Championship experience and that’s exactly what Hourihane has.
The 29-year-old found himself out of favour at Aston Villa following mass strengthening of the engine room, with Douglas Luiz and John McGinn becoming the preferred pairing of Dean Smith.
The Ireland international found himself with a decision to make, and making the move to Steve Cooper’s side for the rest of the season could be his best yet.
In his last Championship season with Villa, Hourihane netted eight times and bagged a further 11 assists, solidifying himself as one of the most creative second tier midfielders of his generation.
And his life as a Swan couldn’t have started any better – Hourihane has three goals in as many games and his penchant for striking the ball from outside the goal has made him a massive scoring threat once again – he has been given an attacking role in-front of Matt Grimes and Jay Fulton and it seems to suit him to a tee.
The Football League anchor for Sky Sports Caroline Barker has been similarly impressed with Hourihane and believes he could be the difference between staying in the Championship for another season and winning promotion back to the top flight.
“We were on with Keith Andrews on Friday night and he was just talking about how much of a pro he is,” Barker said on the Sky Sports EFL Podcast.
“It’s what he gives you in training but you can see now that it’s not just the class on the ball that he’s giving you but it’s the time he gives you. He makes the ball do the work.
“He’s making this side tick but he’s pulling everyone along as well – a bit like Matt Grimes who has been one of their unsung heroes too.
“But Hourihane for Swansea fans – they’re loving him. As a neutral watching on he’s the key.
“He could be that turning point – that promotion-winning signing that sends them up.”
It’s hard to disagree with Caroline – Hourihane is that good that he can be the sole difference to Swansea’s promotion chances.
They were in good form before his arrival, but Hourihane has been a catalyst for even more scoring, and as talented as previous Swans loanee Morgan Gibbs-White is for his age, Conor is the more effective player right now.
No-one expects him to carry on his scoring rate of a goal every game, but he would arguably go down as one of, if not the best midfielder in the Championship if that were to happen, and who’s to say he can’t do it?