Handle With Care: Junior Hoilett
It’s fair to say that the English leagues have not been graced by an abundance of Canadian footballing talent in recent years. Sure we’ve had Tomasz Radzinski (who is actually still playing at the tender age of 38 for Belgian second division outfit Waasland-Beveren), we’ve had Mr Karren Brady aka Paul Peschisolido, and there was also former Tottenham Hotspur wingback Paul Stalteri. Radzinski, Peschisolido and Stalteri may be remembered fondly by their former clubs but they won’t be remembered as World beaters.
Radzinski’s 11 goals in 103 appearances for Fulham cannot be compared with Alan Shearer’s 112 goals in just 138 appearances for Blackburn Rovers for example. Putting it bluntly, the Canadian’s still have yet to show the World their footballing prowess.
Well… until now perhaps. Enter Junior Hoilett.
Junior Hoilett was born in Brampton, Ontario and represented his country at the Danone Cup as an 11 year old; this has so far been his only competition whereby he has represented his birth nation after rejecting a call-up in 2011. Hoilett’s father is Jamaican and through residency rules he may one day qualify to play for England as well, the ball therefore is very much in Junior’s court as to which country he will represent at senior level.
Hoilett is still only 22 years old and will in a matter of days or weeks make one of the biggest decisions of his career. He’s has been at Blackburn Rovers since the age of 13, the club has been his home for the past nine years even sending him out on loan to Germany for two seasons (to Paderborn 07 in 2007-08 and St. Pauli in 2008-09) after being refused a work permit. When he arrived back in the UK, Sam Allardyce, in need of a winger, tried again to get a work permit for Hoilett but once more failed however luckily for Rovers this was overturned on appeal.
Junior was given his chance to shine in the Premier League and has been consistently one of his clubs most vibrant and energetic performers for the previous three years. He made a combined 81 league appearances and scored 12 goals in his time at Rovers. For a young winger this tally of goals is an impressive feat: it far outweighs the contribution of elder statesmen Morten Gamst Pedersen who acts as Rovers other winger.
Hoilett’s time at Blackburn will be remembered by the majority of fans for the continuing contract saga that is still overshadowing his departure from the club. In all honesty it hasn’t been Hoilett’s fault that his manager has told the press time and time again that the young Canadian will be signing new terms at Ewood, but it has left a bitter taste in the mouth. As a fan of the club myself, I remember the gut wrenching feeling of losing Damian Duff in 2003, the sadness of David Bentley’s departure in 2008 and the heartache of Roque Santa Cruz following Mark Hughes down the road to Man City in 2009. These feelings emanated in me because they were the best players at the club and my Rovers were continually being weakened by the bigger Premier League clubs. In Hoilett’s case though I don’t feel sadness, I’ll actually feel relief. If I were a player I wouldn’t stick around at Ewood with the current turmoil around me, Hoilett is such a fantastic talent that he deserves to be playing on the big stage, for a person that the fans can call their manager.
So I’ve come to terms with the fact that young Junior will now fly the Rovers nest; who he turns out for next is in his own hands.
Whoever does eventually sign the young Canadian will have quite a prospect on their hands. So here is my guide to what Hoilett’s new club can expect from him:
Hoilett is nowhere near the finished article that he may think he is. If only the young man knew how to play a pass; he quite simply reminds me of a young Cristiano Ronaldo, I say a young Ronaldo as we all remember the wasteful Cristiano before he found his feet at Old Trafford.
Hoilett can be one of the most frustrating players to watch as he’ll never play the simple pass and will sometimes over dribble or run into an opponent rather then going round them.
With the ball at his feet and a yard of space to run into he can be one of the best players on the pitch. Hoilett’s explosive pace will help any team who stick him out on the wing. It’s been one attribute that has been clear to see over his tenure at Rovers, and one that managers are keen to exploit. Junior should be put on the wing or played in as a second striker to get the best out of him.
Hoilett can sometimes think of himself as a one-man team, which is great when he actually decides to shoot into the top corner from distance.
Or sometimes you may see him go on a mazy run and take it passed a few players and dink it into the net.
Or sometimes he’ll hit a shot pathetically wide…
Which leads to me thinking that Hoilett may well be one of the most frustrating to have ever worn the Blackburn Rovers shirt. Everyone knows that this player has an abundance of talent, he just needs to right coaches and the right man-management to get that talent out every game.
Hoilett needs another year at a club like Blackburn but he won’t be playing at Ewood next year. I suggest that the young man signs a 2 year deal at QPR so he still gets crucial game time in his development period, when the time is up he’ll be 25 and more then capable of holding his own in a stronger squad.
He has plenty of clubs sniffing around though, and I fully expect Hoilett to sign for the biggest club willing to pay him £50k + a week. It would be a sad day for English football to lose such a precocious talent such as Hoilett, but if he does decide that his next move is to Germany (his brother currently plays there) then it may prove to be the making of the young man. Canadian or not, young Junior Hoilett is still only 23 and does have time left in his career to set the World alight, who he does that for though is down to him. Let’s just hope once he has retired he can look back on a career more prosperous then his countrymen Tomasz Radzinski, Paul Peschisolido and Paul Stalteri.