Old school strikers like Norwich City’s Grant Holt are all the rage
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
To label Grant Holt an old-fashioned English centre forward is a compliment not a critique of the Norwich City captain's perceived limitations.
The Canaries' striker is part of a new wave currently in vogue in our Premier League. Swansea's Michu has been the best value import of this or any other top flight campaign. The Spaniard's goals helped secure Michael Laudrup's club a first-ever domestic trophy in their centenary year and a passage to Europe.
Look at the high-end, big spending clubs in the Premier League and you see powerful frontmen cast in the same uncompromising mould as Michu and Holt or Norwich's January window signing Luciano Becchio for that matter.
Edin Dzeko arrived in Manchester with a prohibitive price tag and a reputation as one of the Bundesliga's best. The Bosnian underlined his prowess at Carrow Road over the festive period with two early predatory strikes and a third in the second period that was rather churlishly credited to Mark Bunn after his initial strike cannoned back off a post.
Chelsea recruited Newcastle's Demba Ba as a short term remedy to Fernando Torres' enduring struggles to replicate the devastation he routinely unleashed in the red of Liverpool when he first moved to England.
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Chelsea have another prodigious exponent of the art in the youthful form of Romelu Lukaku who terrorised the Canaries' backline for West Brom in late December. The Belgian's aerial prowess was key to a home victory at the Hawthorns when he rose imperiously above Javier Garrido to crash an unstoppable header beyond Bunn.
Sunderland's Steven Fletcher was the stand out goal scorer in the league's opening months. Aston Villa's Christian Benteke has enjoyed a storming personal campaign in a struggling side. You could go on.
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Holt is likely to renew acquaintances with his one-time Rochdale strike partner Rickie Lambert this weekend when Southampton visit Carrow Road. Two bustling frontmen who have harnessed their natural physical gifts to propel themselves into the big time. Holt has struck 20 Premier League goals since firing Norwich to succesive promotions. Lambert has 12 so far on his maiden journey at this rarefied level.
Both have also had to adapt their games to survive and flourish. Operating in lone front-running roles requires technical proficiency and an awareness of how to link play outside the penalty box that indicates they do not fit the unflattering one-dimensional stereotype.
Perhaps Andy Carroll fulfils that token role in Roy Hodgson's England plans, but the Premier League is one of the most cosmopolitan in world football. It is plainly erroneous to suggest Holt and Lambert can not thrive in similarly cultured circles.
Chris Hughton summed it up best prior to the trip to Manchester United when he acknowledged Holt will forever be tarnished with such a label. Nemanja Vidic proved his class against City's skipper at Old Trafford, but Holt has mixed it on equal terms with the likes of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry during City's Premier League era.
Players like Dzeko or Lukaku or Ba by the very nature of the clubs they play for will always be painted in softer tones than Holt or Lambert. Yet they are cut from the same cloth; they just possess different pedigrees.
The two men who in all probability will lead the lines at Carrow Road this weekend have emerged from unfashionable breeding grounds. They had to fight to climb every step on the ladder and that aggressive intent remains one of the keys to their successful transition,
But make no mistake they are part of a rich seam of 'old fashioned' centre forwards operating at the very top. The only discernible difference is in their backgrounds.