Many fans were shocked and saddened by the news that Grant Holt had put in a transfer request. I was sad, but I wasn’t shocked.
Holt’s rise as a professional has coincided with the club doing so well in recent times. It’s fair to say that it really has been a fairytale and I think many fans were caught up in this notion and had become detached from what really goes on in the world, especially in football. The response on twitter from many fans was like that of a wounded animal, snapping, biting back and saying things that they would later come to regret.
As it stands we don’t know the reasons for the request, but fans and certainly the press will always speculate. In the absence of any information rumours will circulate. He wants more money. His family are unhappy. He wants to move to a bigger club. He wants a long term deal. These are all possibilities and I wouldn’t blame him if any of them turned out to be the reason.
There is a misguided sense in football that loyalty is lacking from players. Often I think it’s the other way round. If a player is not performing or suffering from injures the club will not hesitate to release them, but if a player moves on because the club is struggling then it is the player who is labelled disloyal. Part of what makes Holt’s story such a compelling tale is the journey he has taken to get to where he was at the end of this season, the 2nd highest English goal-scorer in the Premier League and an outside contender for a place in the England squad.
A 3 year contract now at the age of 31 would probably take him to the end of his career. If he were to secure a deal worth around 40k per week (which is entirely plausible given his performances this season) that would set him up comfortably for life. This is a man who cares about his family. This is a man who cares about his football. In 2001 he went to play for Sengkang Marine in Singapore in an attempt to further his career. When you’ve been through what he has, when you’ve worked as hard as he has, it’s easy to understand what a deal like that to play football might mean to him.
To then try to criticise a man for something he may not even have done pains me. To label him as a money grabber, as disloyal is stupid. He’s Grant Holt, he’s a hero. He’s our captain, our leader on the pitch and our goal-scorer. Our Roy of the Rovers, super-star supreme. None of that changes. When he joined the club from Shrewsbury Town if I’d have told you that his goals would fire us back into the Premier League and lead us to a 12th place finish you’d probably have called the men in white coats, such was the fantasy of such a fanciful prediction.
Don’t lose a sense a perspective. Remember everything he’s done for the club. Remember the goals that started it all against Yeovil. Remember his goal at Elland Road in League One. Remember his hat-trick against Ipswich. Remember the moustache. Remember the celebration in the snow at Coventry. Remember his goal at Stamford Bridge or at Anfield or at home against Manchester United and don’t you dare even consider for a moment booing him at Adam Drury’s testimonial.
Holt might end up leaving, he might not. The reasons for his departure might come out, they might not. When all is said and done sometimes you don’t know everything that is going on behind the scenes. But as fans it’s important that we remember what players do on the pitch for us and for the club. Grant Holt has been a phenomenal servant to Norwich City. So remember this, a transfer request doesn’t change any of that. I still love Grant Holt.