Opinion: Paul Lambert signing Norwich City legend Grant Holt for Aston Villa is either a marriage made in heaven – or the very last resort

Norwich City League One title winning parade throught the streets of Norwich. Paul Lambert and Grant Holt in the Castle keep.
 Photo: Simon Finlay
. Norwich City League One title winning parade throught the streets of Norwich. Paul Lambert and Grant Holt in the Castle keep. Photo: Simon Finlay .

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
11:07 AM

Here’s the scenario: Paul Lambert has a pack of cards. On the table are 19 other men, many of them sweating profusely. It’s a tough job.

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Grant Holt listens to his manager Paul Lambert during Norwich City's Npower Championship match against Nottingham Forest at The City Ground in August 2010. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesGrant Holt listens to his manager Paul Lambert during Norwich City's Npower Championship match against Nottingham Forest at The City Ground in August 2010. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

The next card Lambert lays down on the table will hold the key to his future. It’s a big call: Lambert looks at the others and finally decides to pick out the card with the face of Grant Holt on it.

The question is: will the card prove to be the Ace of Hearts, or will it be the Joker?

Lambert and Holt stood side by side at Carrow Road as Norwich City made the glorious transition from League One embarrassments to fresh-faced Premier League arrivals in the space of three amazing seasons and now a loan move has been agreed, they will be reunited again.

Holt was an iconic figure among the fans, a man of the people, “a proper man,” according to Lambert.

Grant Holt and Norwich manager Paul Lambert at the end of the Barclays Premier League match against Newcastle at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton.Grant Holt and Norwich manager Paul Lambert at the end of the Barclays Premier League match against Newcastle at Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton.

But the love affairs ended when May, 2012, became the month from hell: Holt put in a transfer request and by the end of the month Lambert had walked, heading for Villa Park.

Holt wanted to be closer to his family in the north of England, and, despite having seemingly resolved any issues with the new management, eventually, a year later, went to Wigan.

Holt has scored twice for Wigan in the Championship and is out of favour; Lambert is struggling for wins with Villa – what has now transpired is either a marriage made in heaven – or the very last resort.

There is little doubt of the influence Holt had in the Carrow Road dressing room, but will he be able to replicate that at Villa Park; at Norwich, most of the players were cut from the same seam, plying their trade at other lower league teams, some unwanted by their managers (Russell Martin), some, like Holt, resigned to being League Two’s top striker. Holt was there from the beginning of the Lambert era – not being brought in halfway through.

Norwich Manager Paul Lambert congratulates Grant Holt as he is subbed during a pre season friendly against Parma at Carrow Road Stadium, Norwich. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd.Norwich Manager Paul Lambert congratulates Grant Holt as he is subbed during a pre season friendly against Parma at Carrow Road Stadium, Norwich. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd.

And what of his fitness? Will it stand up to the Premier League?

Holt has written his own stories over the years: he went to Singapore and Australia trying to kick-start his career. He struggled at Sheffield Wednesday and had a few issues at Forest, but when he dropped to Shrewsbury he scored the goals which attracted City’s interest. Such was his success that two years ago he was being touted for a place in England’s European Championship squad.

The call never came and while there was never any doubting his desire when he was at Carrow Road, as he ground his way through the final season, there were murmurings of discontent. There were suggestions that he didn’t like the way Chris Hughton played – the tactics perhaps an excuse for some lethargic performances – then his family moved back up north, then came the hints that he wanted to be closer to them. Then the departure.

Wigan has not been the right move so, personal feelings notwithstanding, you’d expect Holt jumped at the chance to team up with Lambert again.

And while the news brought ridicule in some quarters, I’ll wager there are a few who looked at the fixture list, saw a trip to Villa on March 1 and thought, “Holt’s bound to score against us”.

He writes his own stories – what will he be writing at the end of this season?

Related links

Aston Villa complete surprise loan signing of Norwich City legend Grant Holt from Wigan

25 comments

  • Best of luck there Holty. You will always be considered one of us, and Lambo will no doubt get the best from you, something our present incumbent couldn't do if he lived to be a hundred

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    oldtimer

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • This could be another kick in the proverbials for hughton and another WHEN he scores . And i hope he doesn't celebrate to wildly or im afraid i will quickly go off him. Mind you....You have to wonder why though ??? Lambo's got benteke who everyone wants ( wanted ) and he signs a possible has been ! If Holty dont get off to a flyer Lambo could get his p45 !!! Funny ol world isnt it !!!

    Report this comment

    marcohendy

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Lambert's last 13 prem games for NC: W3 D3 L7 CH last 13 prem games for NC: W3 D4 L6 Just saying, that's all.

    Report this comment

    Stopper

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • I go to Villa park every season because me & my lot have a blooming good night out after but I long for the season we go to Villa Park and beat Lambert! It shouldn't matter and I spend alot of time telling people to forget Lambert and dont bring him up but on that day every season I long for us to give them a good kicking. Not going to happen under Hughton though sadly so just a good night out to look forward to. Going to be sickening watching Holt score past us, really is!

    Report this comment

    Mattias333

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Lambchops 'other' striker Kozak is out for the rest of the season with a broken leg, therefore he's looking for someone to do a temporary job for the remainder of the season. I doubt Lambchops is considering Holt as straight competition to Benteke - just someone to bring on with 30 minutes to go when Villa need something to happen possibly?.....A Wigan based friend of mine says most Latics supporters will be glad to see the back of Holt - a somewhat different view to that which us City fans once had. Mind you his time at Wigan hasn't been particularly successful; lack of goals, struggling with an injury, and looking at recent pictures he does look like he's back in 'League 1 condition' physically! Yes, Holt was a big player for us, immense in fact - both on the pitch and in the changing room. However, this came about as a result of the fantastic journey he, Lambchops, the club, and the fans had experienced together over 3 seasons. In other words similar to a rare event that culminates when the right people are united in the right circumstances. It's not something that can be easily replicated, whatever Lambchops may be thinking!

    Report this comment

    Mellow_Yellow

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Get a grip folks - The guy was lazy and wouldnt work hard in training or on the pitch as soon as he got his 3 year deal with Norwich. He got another 3 year deal at Wigan I think and it would seem was the same up there. Paul Lambert may get the best out of him and that is all well and good for Villa if that happens again but we got £2million for a lazy 30 something average at best footballer, of Championship at best standard footballer. He will suit how Villa play coz thats all they did against lump the ball forward to Benteke all last night against Arsenal. That style of play works on occasions, so whilst I respect the goals he scored for us, I am not losing any sleep over him going to Villa, as opposed to lining up for us

    Report this comment

    GPL

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • I have always maintained that Holt and Hoolahan were good on their own but,together,were better.They formed the bedrock of city's success under Lambert,in a similar way to Fox and Sutton under Walker.Lambert needs them both for maximum effect and it would not surprise me Wes Hoolahan felt this way too.Smart move from PL.

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    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Exactly Mad. The minute Calderwood rocked up I knew Holts time was coming to an end. Added to the fact the continued whispers about his personal life and house location. Is there a pattern between Holt free scoring under Lambert and the fact Hooper & RVW free scored at there previous clubs? Of course there is. For Holt, my opinion was always it didn't matter if he missed a chance, under the gung-ho tactics of PL he would get another 2-3 chances. He by no means was a natural target man. He would run himself into the ground but he wasnt the kind of natural, strong target man Hughton has used at Newcastle & Brum and as a result we saw a season like last from him. Yes he would naturally decline as a player due to his age but not that dramatically! He, like RVW & Hooper now are, suffered because try as hard as they can they are not the natural target men required to fit Hughtons tactics. If we played the football many other clubs played in our league (im not just talking about the Swansea's & co etc) im 100% sure RVW & Hooper + Holt last season would've scored more than they have. Just victims are being stuck in a defensive side that doesn't create many clear cut chances. People can make excuses and claim he was washed up last night but sometimes players and managers just dont fit each other and Holts form was totally down to not fitting, not liking (pick which ever you wish) Hughtons tactics and style (like many other players have stated). WIll Holt be a hit at Villa? Doubt he will set the world alight but they'll appreciate his work rate and should Benteke get injured im sure he will step up and Lambert will get the best out of him & of course he will mysteriously start against NCFC at Villa park and likely score, thats just destiny lol!

    Report this comment

    Mattias333

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Holt to villa, phone call to Hoolahoop , fancy setting up a few for your mate ? Clever sod that lambert

    Report this comment

    wivenhoebudgie

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • The only positive I took from Holt leaving was that he wouldn't be lining up against us with another premier league team. If he joins Villa then, despite the fact Lambert is there, it proves we got rid far too quickly and that yes, it was Hughton who drove him out of the club which made him OTBC

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    Powers1902

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Lakey's right-this is the move of a gambler and Lambert is a good one. However I think the great man (Holty) is just about past it. I can see Wes gpong too unfortunately.

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    el dingo

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Holt is just one of the past and current players who've spoken out regarding Hughtons style of football. Holt had a big falling out with Calderwood during his awful spell in management. Was always going to end in tears as soon as Hughton arrived. While I think maybe the time was right for Holt to go in terms of at least getting some money for him I doubt any other Premier League side would be after him. Just the old story of an ex manager going after a player he knows and trusts. To be fair Lambert is better suited to getting the best out of players like Holt etc....than big name overseas signings. Holts another decent player in there squad too. Better to be prepared than under prepared for injuries and they've already lost 1 striker for rest of this season.

    Report this comment

    Mattias333

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Going back to those you know is perhaps a sign of desperation - CH is doing it. Glenn Roeder tried it. Harry Redknapp is always doing it! Reality is, though, that Wes and Holty playing together under Lambert's system have a goal-scoring track record, but it's now 2 years on so they may well score goals..., or they may not...

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    Surrey Canary

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • If Lambchops is such a good manager everyone why haven't Villa supporters bought into his methods? Discuss.

    Report this comment

    Mellow_Yellow

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Has anyone listened to the Villa fans and their view of Lambert? Not unlike many City fans' views of CH.Times change. He was brilliant at pulling us around from disaster, tailed off and left. Get over him.

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    Stopper

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • A cynical conspiracy theorist might see that Wigan were acting as a half-way house, as no way were Norwich going to let Holty go to Lambo`s Villa..... It seems to be a common pattern that a manager seeks out players he`s worked with before. I thought Holt would be a perfect fit at Wigan, and it`s certainly closer to his Cumbrian family home than Birmingham. But transport links are still much better than from Naaaridge. Whatever happens, like oldtimer, I wish him well. As long as he doesn`t punish us! Well reasoned piece there from Chris Lakey. Of course, it could all be `paper talk`.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • If Lambchops is such a good manager everyone why haven't Villa supporters bought into his methods? Discuss.

    Report this comment

    Mellow_Yellow

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Not sure how this is news on a Norwich forum, do you always report on all players that move on? Anyway, back to the topic. I can see why PL has got him in. We're missing a back up to Benteke, someone mentioned Kozak is our "other" striker (we actually have 5, now 6). I dont forsee him playing too much of a role unless injuries occur. He's probably good for 20 minutes, but more importantly he's someone who Benteke can learn from, he will be a voice in the changing room. I think im right in thinking the oldest first teamer is 27 so again he will be the one knocking some heads. Its a shrewd move, one im not overly keen on, but i can see why. The WH conspiracy is also a good one, i think he will be at Villa come February, again not who i would want but given his age he needs games and he will get that at VP. Oh and Mad, offence is taken not given, but i do actually think your mad ;)

    Report this comment

    MonkeyNuts

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Good Move Villa, hope Holty bag a few..

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    OLDYELLA

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Gunn signed Holt though. He brought in R Martin but not Holt.

    Report this comment

    Colin

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Has anyone listened to the Villa fans and their view of Lambert? Not unlike many City fans' views of CH.Times change. He was brilliant at pulling us around from disaster, tailed off and left. Get over him.

    Report this comment

    Stopper

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • I suspect (because I talk to my boss and his mates who are villa fans - We stay there when NCFC play away at Villa) its because alot of the Villa fans still have an attitude or stigma that relates to there past glory. They didnt have 2 consecutive promotions for which to idol him. They just have a scot who is hard to understand that has an obsession with signing youngsters. Took us alot of time to buy into that. Thing is Lambopper is gone, history. We need to move on to. Decent manager but no god. He has his faults to.

    Report this comment

    Mattias333

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

  • Sad truth is that Norwich's leadership off the pitch went with Lambert and our on the pitch leadership with Holt. Holt is a legend at Carrow Road and rightly so. He encapsulated the club's spirit, never-say-die attitude and commitment. Problem is, nobody has the character to have stepped into his boots. Good luck, Holty. If only we had that kind of charismatic player here now. And if only we had a manager with Lambert's drive and passion.

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    malaga flier

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • When Lambo joined Norwich, Holty was the size of a barrage balloon and Wessi (Lambo`s own words) was "egg-shaped". Chris Martin was out of favour. Within weeks, those three became "The Holy Trinity" that scored 50-odd league goals between them. Granted, it was `only` L1. The `Roll` model provided by the previous manager may have made the weight issue less apparent. Holty & Wes continued to thrive in the Champ, while Martin faded - partly due to injury, partly Jackson`s arrival. In the Prem, Holty still proved he could cut it, as did Wes. Then, concealed beneath Hoots`s Invisibility Cloak, along came Bewilderwood, Holty`s favourite football person. Holty fades and gets out ASAP (still top goalscorer, though). Wes marginalised. Now Lambo sniffing around again - for both of them? Martin and Vaughan not doing too badly in the Champ. I wouldn`t bet against Lambo squeezing another bit of performance out of Grant. Pity; Norwich is a much better club than Villa, really. No offence to MonkeyNuts intended there!

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    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

  • Good grief. I think CH might just have lost the plot (we'll see, but it would be good if our players did their job for us) but the contributing fans here are pushing him very close. Lambert's last half season was a shocker. Holt can't now cut it at Wigan - not good enough? Can't be bothered? Don't know but it's not Norwich or CH's fault. He's been paid shedloads. And, just in case anyone thinks I'm a CH apologist, I don't get why Wes doesn't play either.

    Report this comment

    Stopper

    Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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