After spending the last four years in Norfolk, Grant Holt has decided to plunge down to the Championship as he prepares to play for Wigan Athletic during the 2013/14 season.
If it was the decision by those higher up in the hierarchy to get rid, you would say it is an understandable move.
But after scoring 15 goals in the 2011/12 season, many were tipping Grant Holt to become a surprise inclusion in England’s EURO 2012 squad. So, it’s quite ironic how thing’s can change in just 12 months.
Perhaps the hype eventually got to the 6ft 1 target man. After signing for the Canaries in August 2009 , the club were dwindling in League One and in truth times were looking bleak by the time Holt made his debut – with Paul Lambert’s Colchester United thrashing his new club 7-1 in their own backyard.
Of course, Lambert replaced Bryan Gunn at the Canaries’ helm and the rest they say, is history. Two successive promotions saw Lambert given a chance to prove himself at Aston Villa following an equally successful season in Norwich’s Premier League debut – and Grant Holt was eager to follow suit.
Holt was voted as the Canaries’ player of the season for the third year in a row, and his induction into the club’s hall of fame quickly followed. But it appeared Holt was desperate to leave – handing in a surprise transfer request on May 18, 2012. He decided to reiterate his desire to leave via Twitter after Norwich rejected the request – before making a U-turn and signing a new three year deal.
It was clear that the transfer request was genuine and the stats show that perhaps had he kept his head down – he could have easily been an England international.
In his Premier League season, Holt was mainly used as a substitute, making 12 appearances from the bench before starting 24 Premier League games. With this in mind, his tally of 15 goals is a great return in his first season. Contrast this to last season – after starting 28 games and making six substitute appearances, Holt only managed to grab eight goals – a very poor return considering he was considered to be the main man for the Canaries.
As a target man, Holt was picked by Paul Lambert and Chris Hughton for his ability as a goalscorer and in comparison to the 11/12 Premier League season, you can’t blame for Hughton for cutting his losses and selling Holt to Wigan.
With a goals per minute ratio of 150 minutes, this stat more than doubled to one goal every 321 minutes last season, which shines a light on what kind of year Holt enjoyed.
He also managed to register 18 more shots in the 2011/12 season – with a shooting accuracy of 55%, compared to that of 41% last season. It is sad proof of the decline Holt made as a striker for Norwich and perhaps a second chance to prove himself at Wigan could do him a lot of favours.
Holt will argue that despite his diminishing stats in front of goal, he contributed more to Norwich’s play last season than in his debut Premier League campaign. In the final third, Holt made a total number of 227 accurate passes, compared to 184 in 2011/12.
The Carlisle born forward also managed to muster up nine successful dribbles last season – a significant rise upon four made the year before. But as much as these stats gloss over his performances – there are still other glaring facts that stand out for me.
After only managing to muster up the same assists as the previous year, he managed to make eight more clear cut chances in 2011/12 than 2012/13 after producing just two chances last year – and is that really enough?
There is no denying that Holt is a quality target man and will be a great addition to Owen Coyle’s new look Wigan side. Perhaps a drop down to a lower level will do him good and keep his feet firmly glued to the ground as I truly believe this was his main reason for the decline in performances last season.
But as a 32 year old, will this be the last we will see from Grant Holt as a Premier League footballer? Time is not on his side, but you never know. One thing he must be commended for is his determination to play in the Premier League despite not being as naturally talented as some of his rivals.
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