March 31 2015 Latest news:
Saturday, March 1, 2014
Norwich City’s former triple player-of-the-year Grant Holt has nothing to prove to his old club, insists Paul Lambert.
The ex-City chief opted for a surprise reunion with the 32-year-old frontman last month after Holt had severed his ties at Carrow Road during the previous summer to move to Championship club Wigan.
Holt has made four appearances for the Villans since agreeing a New Year loan move until the end of the current season and Lambert will have no qualms unleashing the veteran on his former employers.
“Holty will be involved with the squad anyway, that’s the thing,” Lambert said. “I think he’ll be looking forward to it, it’s his first time facing them so it’s maybe new for him. He was a major catalyst for that club with what he did. When I was there he was player of the year for three years in a row and he was great for me. He was probably the worst trainer I’ve ever seen but you put him in on a Saturday and he performed. He was brilliant, he was absolutely fantastic. I know exactly what you get from him, I know exactly what he’s like. I’ve always had a laugh and a joke with him about his training but he’s 30-odd years of age now. You put him on a pitch on a Saturday and he performs. That’s the main thing.
“I don’t think he’s going to run about like an 18-year-old now he’s getting on a bit,” said the Villa boss. “He tries to work hard in training but when you put him on the pitch on a Saturday, he performs. He was fantastic for us (at Norwich), goal after goal. He became a big, big player and probably never really got the credit he deserved from people for what he did.”
Lambert knows the prospect of facing his old club will be a special occasion for Holt.
“It will be nice for him. He’s looking forward to it. It’s his first time. It will be new for him,” he said. “But he has been around the block though so there won’t be any sentimental things in his makeup. He knows he’s here to play for Villa to try and help us beat Norwich. But I am sure the Norwich crowd will give him a good reception for what he did for them. I don’t think Grant has anything to prove to Norwich. He carried that club on his shoulders for three years. He deserves a lot of credit, along with the other lads there. He was a major catalyst for Norwich. He was great for me. He was player of the year there for three seasons in succession.”
Holt admits he still has plenty of affection for the Canaries.
“I wish them all the success in the world,” he told Skysports. “I hope they sustain Premier League survival for a long, long time and hopefully try and grow, obviously not at the expense of Aston Villa at the moment. But I always want to see that club do well. No one can ever take away what I done there and what that club did for me, and I always look for their results and hope they do well. At the moment it’s a little bit like I don’t want them to do too well, but obviously at the end of the day I want them to stay up.”
Lambert is unbeaten in four games against his old club and the Villa boss believes enough water has flowed under the bridge to avoid over-hyping this latest meeting, despite the concerted pursuit of Wes Hoolahan during the recent transfer window and an offer labelled ‘derisory’ by the City board, following on from an earlier resolution to the compensation battle surrounding Jed Steer’s close season exit.
“I just view it as another game,” said Lambert. “I think if you go down that route of prioritising one game as more important than another I think you end up flat on your face. For me it’s another game. I’ve been involved in too many of them now. The first one, maybe going back to Carrow Road because you don’t know what people are thinking. But I’ve had a few now and it’s a game that we’ll go and try and win.”