Danny Rohl was a brave man entering into his first job in English football with Sheffield Wednesday, the Owls sinking without a trace in the Championship even before the German manager’s arrival on the scene.
The former Bayern Munich coach has managed to pick up a solitary win from his first five games in charge, but the rest of the results have seen Wednesday depressingly come up short – the despondent Hillsborough home masses having to sit through a dire 4-0 defeat last time out versus Millwall, the second tier’s basement club played off the park by the visitors from The Den all afternoon.
There are obvious issues at Wednesday currently, one of those being their inability to find the net. The South Yorkshire giants have only scored a paltry seven goals from 16 second-tier matches to date, the downtrodden Owls firing blanks in 11 of those contests.
In stark contrast, former Owls striker Gary Hooper is showing the misfiring Wednesday strikers how it’s done in front of goal so late into his career – the tricky 5 foot 9 forward now 35 years of age.
Joining Barnet in the National League in October, the ageing attacker is enjoying life currently in his new surroundings and will want to lead his new employers to promotion up to the EFL.
Gary Hooper’s statistics with Sheffield Wednesday
Hooper would join the South Yorkshire club after an up-and-down spell in Norfolk with Norwich City, scoring 12 goals in the second tier for the Canaries during the 2014/15 season before being moved on to Wednesday.
When donning his new blue and white strip, Hooper was a feared forward for opposition defenders to keep tabs on – scoring 13 goals from 29 games in his debut full campaign, netting eight of those in a mini six game purple patch in January and February under Carlos Carvahal to help his team make the playoffs.
In total, Hooper would score 31 goals from 89 appearances playing for Wednesday before New Zealand would come calling in the form of Wellington Phoenix.
Becoming a nomadic figure playing all around the globe as a result, Hooper’s return to English football has been welcomed with open arms by Barnet considering his stature in the game.
Gary Hooper’s statistics since leaving Sheffield Wednesday
Once referred to as “world class” by Celtic manager Neil Lennon for his goalscoring exploits with the Hoops, the non-league Bees signing Hooper on a deal this season is a major coup.
Hooper has played in New Zealand, India, Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates since leaving Hillsborough behind in 2019 – his most prolific spell globetrotting from club to club coming with Wellington, scoring 13 goals during a one season stay which even saw him play a game in their reserve set-up.
At Barnet, however, Hooper is rolling back the years and showing the current crop of wasteful Sheffield Wednesday strikers how to be clinical in front of goal.
Gary Hooper’s career in numbers
Stats via Transfermarkt.
Hooper would net his debut goal for the Bees after only being on the pitch for 20 minutes against Solihull Moors, a poacher-like finish from point-blank range sealing a share of the points right at the death in a 1-1 draw.
He would get in on the goalscoring act versus Chesterfield too for his new employers one game later, netting late on again but to no avail as Dean Brennan’s Bees lost 4-2 to the Spireites sitting at the top of the National League.
His two goals even mean he’s outscoring Anthony Musaba at Wednesday, the young Dutchman with one meagre goal to show for his efforts since making the move to Yorkshire in the summer.
Sheffield Wednesday fans will hope that one of their current underperforming strikers can take inspiration from Hooper’s know-how in front of goal, Rohl’s men in dire need of a talismanic figure in attack to help stop the rot at Hillsborough.