Given the deserved furore and hype around his miraculous recovery from a season-ending injury and a potentially career-ending one at worst, I thought it would be fitting to write a short tribute to the machine and symbol of our ‘terrier identity’, Jonathan Hogg.
After going down in a collision with Captain Mark Hudson in the first half of the 4-0 defeat to Bristol City, many fans feared not just that he would not play again this season, but there were serious concerns he might not play for town again. A fractured neck can leave individuals wheelchair bound or with life-changing injuries which they cannot recover from. Thankfully the revised prognosis allowed him to be on a football pitch in less than a month.
Head Coach David Wagner declared his recovery “the best message we have had all season” and if there was any doubt about whether this was a special season already, Jonathan Hogg’s return to Huddersfield’s starting line-up epitomised the character and personality of the squad. The work and ability of Jonathan Hogg within this Town team should be praised in more detail.
Since the meteoric rise of Leicester City midfielder N’Golo Kante, who was bought from French side Caen in Ligue 1 for £5.6m in 2015 and who was arguably the biggest factor in Leicester’s historic Premier League title success, top teams have all tried to upgrade their scouting systems to help unearth the next graduate from the N’Golo Kante academy.
The key player traits centre on a high-energy, high-work rate Duracell bunny of a player who is able to simultaneously break up opposition attacks and help launch attacks for his own team. A player, who makes the transition from defence to attack a seamless motion, can give simple passes to avoid losing possession and the stamina to, in essence, carry out the work of two players. Reading that you begin to wonder how Chelsea signed him for only £30m.
In today’s hyper-inflated transfer market, that’s about the going rate for a punt on a player from Serie A or La Liga. You also wonder why Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger declared that Arsenal could have signed him. If he loves Granit Xhaka, it’s a funny way of showing it.
The point to this is that N’Golo Kante shares the same player traits that Jonathan Hogg does although in a much superior way. Both players are integral to their side. The work and role of Jonathan Hogg is vital in implementing their team’s style of play.
After a prolonged absence, some may have felt that Hogg could’ve struggled to get up to speed when he started against Norwich, instead, he put in a man of the match performance. Hogg’s tireless performance was reflected in a stat which read ‘64 passes, 89% accuracy, 73 touches, 5 tackles’ and most importantly, ‘Gained possession 14 times’.
Head Coach David Wagner enthuses about his terrier-in-chief whenever he gets the chance and on this evidence, you can see why. Time and time again, when the opposition looks dangerous on the counter-attack or when Town begin to go up the gears in their offensive play, there is Jonathan Hogg.
A central midfielder who hustles and harries, works and fights to win possession back, most of the time successfully. This not only stops the opposition attacks in their tracks but also allows Town to launch counter-attacks of their own. Without Jonathan Hogg, there is a missing piece in the jigsaw. A clear gaping hole in the midfield which only Hogg can successfully fill.
Without Jonathan Hogg’s performances, we would not be third in the championship table and without Jonathan Hogg; this season would not be what it is. If Premier League teams are looking for the next N’Golo Kante to fit into their team, they could do a lot worse than look in the midfield department of a Championship team in West Yorkshire that plays in blue and white stripes.