Friday, September 21, 2012
I was lucky enough, before Saturday’s game against West Ham, to be treated to a very pleasant brunch – enough food to make the match day viewing rather more of a squeeze than it should be.
I lasted the full 90 minutes, but the subject of full bellies and tight clothing dominated the day, thanks to fans’ deliberations on the great Grant Holt debate. Holt, it seems, has a similar problem in that he is carrying a bit of surplus timber.
Personally, I don’t see it.
Holt is the man who has done no wrong on the field of play for three seasons. Now he goes four matches without a goal and the wrath of god is upon him.
His ‘weight problem’ appears to top the list of reasons for his lack of goals. That’s codswallop. Complete and utter tripe. If Grant Holt is overweight then criticism needs to be aimed at his manager Chris Hughton – but don’t bother; there is no way that he would send Holt out on to the pitch if he were unfit. It’s not just more than his job is worth, it also has an element of health risk, I’d suggest.
I’ve heard it suggested that Holt needs a few games to reach match sharpness – indeed, it has become something of a standing excuse. But while there may be an element of truth in that, the stats don’t quite back it up.
In his first season at City, Holt’s first goal came in his second game; he scored five goals in his first five games; then he had four blanks in a row. In 2010/11 it took two games to get off the mark, he scored three in his first five – but after that he had three blanks.
Last season it took him there games to get going, he scored one in the first five and then had two blanks.
If he scores at Newcastle on Sunday his muscle-flexing opening to the Premier League season will be the same as last year – when we all applauded him loud and long and touted him for an England call-up on the back of 17 league and cup goals.
What must not be forgotten is that all but three of Holt’s goals for Norwich City came under a previous manager who sometimes employed, shall we say, gung-ho tactics in order to get goals. Hughton is more cautious than his predecessor; his tactics are different, and I suspect that over the season, chances won’t fall to Holt quite as regularly as they once did.
City are currently without their two genuine wingers, Anthony Pilkington and Elliott Bennett, which doesn’t help his cause. In Andrew Surman and Robert Snodgrass, you have two players who are midfielders rather than wingers. Surman plays one-two triangles to move inside; he doesn’t possess the necessary speed to take the ball to the byline and cross it.
Against West Ham, Snodgrass – a left-footed player – was plying his trade on the right. His right foot is about as good as mine, if his reluctance to use it last weekend is anything to go by, so he cuts in. It’s a different game to the one that would benefit Holt most.
And then you have two full-backs who don’t attack as much as we saw last season.
The fact is that Holt isn’t overweight and while not exactly starved of service, it is a slightly different ball game. However, he will come good. It’s what he does.