Grant Holt: Aston Villa’s Proper Man?
I remember as a kid fulfilling my role as a mascot at Rochdale, looking up to Grant Holt when he was a 22-year-old making his way in the game at Spotland. Before signing, he had spells at Workington Town, Halifax and Barrow, as well as travelling to Western Australia and Singapore to ply his trade. At Rochdale, he formed a prolific partnership with Rickie Lambert (of Southampton) and honed qualities which helped him score 68 goals for Norwich on their rise from League One to the Premier League.
MOMS has already obtained perspective from Norwich and Wigan fans in terms of Grant Holt’s achievements and pitfalls as a footballer at their respective clubs, but now he’s at Villa, it’s time to assess how he can benefit the club in the short time he has.
Clearly, Holt has had problems with his physique at Wigan. A footballer with fitness problems is always a concern as his professionalism immediately comes under question. Since his Rochdale days, Holt has sacrificed that burst of pace he often showed to become bigger and play to his more obvious strengths: holding up the ball, being strong in the air and scoring goals. He has an old school presence about him that defenders fear. He also has an unselfish streak, that means he can bring others into play.
At Villa, the pace of Weimann and Agbonlahor either side of Benteke has been a constant threat in the past. With the big Belgian mis-firing in terms of performance this year though and now injured, Lambert has had to look elsewhere. There is a severe lack of trust in 6’8 Nicklas Helenius, who appeared an ideal replacement on paper. However the £7m signing of Libor Kozák effectively put the Dane’s Villa career on ice before it began. The Czech’s performances led to mixed reviews from the Villa faithful, but his unfortunate leg break has once again left Lambert short of options when the inconsistent yet brilliant Benteke is not around.
Step up Grant Holt. He has Premier League experience with Norwich and in turn has a good relationship with the Villa manager. However the fact that he was effectively on the scrapheap at struggling Championship club Wigan made him a strange signing for Villa, even if it was just for cover.
Has his pace deteriorated that significantly? Possibly, but at Villa there is enough youthfulness and energy to cover his inability to get in behind.
Has he lost his goalscoring touch? Many will argue Holt was never a deadly finisher. Most of his 179 career goals were scored outside of the Premier League. However 15 goals in his debut Premier League season kept Norwich away from the relegation zone and his career ratio stands at 1 every 2.6 games in all competitions, which is not a bad record at all.
Is he a problem in the dressing room? According to Paul Lambert, he is the complete opposite. Holt’s transfer request at Norwich was due to his wish to move back closer to his family in the North. A ‘proper man’ who fans can relate to, surely the Holte End will take to their new aptly named frontman quickly if this is the case.
Many have stated Lambert’s signing was a ‘last resort’ or an ‘easy way out’ but there are still a few that continue to label it a ‘match made in heaven.’ In my opinion it is neither. Grant Holt is a likeable character with a lot of experience. He is coming into a young dressing room with two seasons in the Premier League and a heck of a lot more life experience under his belt than the boys he is playing with. He was effectively cover for Christian Benteke and now Lambert has to decide if he’s going to use him.
With all this in mind, the loan signing of Grant Holt was relatively harmless, even if it is a little uninspiring. There is nothing to suggest that he is part of Lambert’s long term plans and there’s nothing to suggest he’ll do anything but benefit Villa in his short-lived spell at the club.
Time for fans to get behind this ‘proper man’ as his only motive will be to prove himself again at the top level by doing everything he can to help Paul Lambert and Aston Villa. You can’t ask much more than that.
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