Many West Ham fans were disappointed that Scott Hogan didn’t join the club during the January transfer window. I thought it was short-sighted not to sign a proper centre forward, because it seemed inevitable that Andy Carroll was destined for injury.
With the club’s striker deficiency once again made painfully clear, let’s have a look at how Hogan has done in his first three games for Aston Villa. Is he the one who got away? Or have the Hammers dodged a bullet?
Scott Hogan, 24 has garnered comparisons to Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, due to his gradual rise through many levels of the English football league pyramid. Almost six years ago the then-teenager had a career crisis when he was released by Rochdale after failing to be offered a professional contract.
In summer 2010, Hogan dropped into non-league football to join Woodley Sports of Northern Premier League Division One North. He wowed by scoring 21 league goals in just 27 games, while working part-time in a warehouse. Interestingly, Hogan was snapped up by Halifax, where Jamie Vardy, kept the Salford-born striker out of the team.
Summer 2014 saw Hogan join Brentford for £750,000, who were newly promoted to the Championship. Unfortunately, Hogan suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury during his league debut, which kept him out of the team for over 18 months. When Hogan recovered he went on to find the net 21 times in 33 games for Brentford, before attracting the attention of several clubs during last month’s transfer window.
West Ham seemed certain to secure Hogan, but after three failed bids and a fourth accepted, the Hammers pulled out of the transfer. Leaving Aston Villa free to sign the player for £15 million, as they eyed a late playoff push.
Hogan’s manager at Rochdale, Keith Hill suggested that the Irons may rue letting the striker slip away:
“Steve Bruce will be surprised by his level of skill I think Villa is a great choice for him – to be honest I still can’t believe that West Ham didn’t take him. I think they’ve missed out big time because Scott has the talent to follow in the footsteps of someone like Vardy. I’m sure Villa will be promoted to the Premier League and Scott will play a big part in that.”
Aston Villa have struggled in their first season in the Championship and are yet to record a win in 2017, they currently sit 7 points away from relegation. There were hopes that Steve Bruce could turn the club’s fortunes around after he arrived in October 2016; but promotion back to the Premier League now looks unattainable.
Hogan has featured up front in the last three Villa games, all losses in which the striker has been unable to shine. Fans of the club seem to appreciate their new striker’s work rate:
2/2 games we have not been able to find Scott Hogan. Also bad from Amavi and to much playing around the back four. pic.twitter.com/9YNS5ojjUB— Mads Kleiv (@MadsKleiv) February 14, 2017
Scott Hogan looked class as well. A willing runner and he'll score loads if Kodjia can win more flick ons like last night for his chance— Andrew Stone (@andrewstone85) February 5, 2017
Complaints about the lack of service to Hogan appear warranted, in last night’s 3-1 loss to Barnsley, the striker had the lowest share of possession of anyone on the pitch. WhoScored data shows the share of possession each player had in the game. Hogan only had 1.4%, just under half of what each Barnsley striker enjoyed:
Surprisingly, this is the highest share of possession that Hogan has seen during his time with Aston Villa. It is still early days and the English striker is likely still adjusting to his new club, he did manage to score a goal, but it was disallowed by the referee.
Our sister blog 7500 to the Holte said of last night’s game:
“Villa are completely empty of confidence and fluidity currently. Steve Bruce’s bizarre substitutions continue to mystify even the most ardent and optimistic supporter. Next up is Newcastle at St. James’ Park. With the way Villa are playing now, that will likely shape up to be a long and painful afternoon.”
For West Ham it still feels like a case of what could have been, Hogan’s energy and pace would have been well-suited to the team. He has 14 Championship goals this season, which makes him the 5th highest scorer in the league, despite not hitting the net since 2nd January.
With West Ham struggling to find anyone to fill the void left by Andy Carroll, there would have been a great opportunity for a new striker to immediately get playing time. Hammers fans love a striker who can make a lot of runs and put a real shift in up front. It’s why we loved Carlton Cole, despite his lack of goals:
I feel sorry for Scott Hogan as well, constantly running in behind, causing problems for defenders, never gets the ball played in to him— Dan Smith (@smithyy02) February 14, 2017
Felt for @ScottHogan_9 last night Constantly moving to receive the ball, which hardly ever came & when it did no one around him to pass to!— Julie Bayley (@Julie_Bayley_) February 15, 2017
In conclusion, it looks like West Ham have missed out on striker that could have added depth to the club’s attacking options. It would seem that Jonathan Calleri, Ashley Fletcher and Andre Ayew were most likely to feature against West Brom, but, Michail Antonio was preferred. Which shows the lack of faith Bilic has in his other options.
As usual West Ham’s striking options are in disarray, Scott Hogan could have brought some much needed stability