'They've got a good respect for each other and that's important' - Legend impressed by City players
Kevin Wiatrowski/Visit Tampa Bay
Canaries legend Grant Holt is confident Norwich City are moving in the right direction, after spending last week with the squad in Florida.
Holt and fellow former City captain Adam Drury accompanied the Tampa touring party in their role as ambassadors for the club, making sure the fans and sponsors on the trip were enjoying their time in the US.
That included leading a question and answer session with head coach Daniel Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber, as well as going on tours of the different Tampa Bay sporting franchises, as the players got stuck into some warm weather training sessions.
“The squad’s good, you can tell they get on really well from being around them, and I’m fortunate that I get to see them in training sessions when I go into the club once a week,” said Holt, who began his part-time coaching role at Colney earlier this season.
“They’re a really good bunch and I think you could see (in Thursday’s open training session) that they’re competitive, they’ve got a good respect for each other and that’s important, because that’s how you go on to be successful.
“At the moment they’re doing well, they look like they can score goals, they look like defensively they’re quite strong and they look like they can turn a game around.
“The Millwall game (winning 4-3 before the break) told you everything you need to know about the squad, they’ve got desire to go and win games and once you’ve got that it’s always a good place to be.”
Now aged 37, the centre-forward who led the charge from League One to the Premier League for City under Paul Lambert has maintained his close ties with the club.
“When I heard about what they were doing I thought it was a great idea,” Holt said. “To actually get out here and let the lads train and people come out with them, and I’ve absolutely loved it, it’s been fantastic.
“We went to see the Lightning (ice hockey team) the other day and seeing those stadiums and stuff, it’s been a really good trip and I’m fortunate that I’m able to come out here and mingle as an ambassador of the football club.
“I think everyone who’s been here, playing staff, staff, business people, ourselves, I think everyone’s had a really good time. It’s been a really good trip and it’s the sort of thing we can do more of because Visit Tampa Bay have really appreciated us being here.”
The timing of the trip during the international break worked out rather well, with Farke’s team sitting top of the Championship table after 17 matches, as they represented the club in the States.
“It’s great that they’re top of the league but I don’t think it would have made much of a difference if they weren’t, if it’s right, it’s right, it doesn’t matter if you’re top or second or whatever,” Holt added.
“It’s not about being out here in the warm weather, which helps, it’s getting away from Colney because the lads are there a lot of the time and sometimes it’s good to get away to see something different.
“It’s been really good, the club’s in a good place at the moment, off the pitch and on the pitch, which is great.”
Holt sits sixth in City’s all-time top scorers list, having scored 78 goals in 182 games between 2009 and 2012 but now just plays occasionally for local sides when he has time, for Wroxham at step five of non-league or Horsford Veterans.
Spells with clubs including Wigan, Huddersfield and Hibs followed his Canaries exit, before playing in his home county of Cumbria last season, as player-coach for Barrow.
“I’d retired so I didn’t really think about playing and I told Adam (Drury, Wroxham assistant) from the start and Jordan (Southgate, manager) when they rang me, if you’re short then I’ll come and play, so I joined in a couple of weeks and enjoyed it,” he explained.
“It’s not the number one thing I do any more but I still enjoy running around. A guy said to me the other day ‘why are you bothering to play at this level, must be a bit of a comedown?’ and I said not really, I’ve been kicking a ball since I was four years old!
“You’re not going to stop playing when you still enjoy kicking a ball around, I absolutely love still being able to get out there and at the moment it’s great for me because I can treat it more as a hobby.”
The focus now for Holt is coaching, having already achieved his Uefa A Licence.
He added: “I absolutely love it, all my badges are done, I go in (to Colney) on a Tuesday and get to work with anywhere from the 15s to the under-23s, so I get to work with everyone and do different bits.”