City skipper Grant Holt hailed this weekend’s 6-0 demolition of a poor Scunthorpe side as all-but ‘the complete performance’ as the Canaries tightened their grip on that second automatic promotion spot.
It was a game that will long live in the memory – City’s biggest league win in 40 years featuring two hat-tricks in the shape of Holt’s 19th, 20th and 21st goals of the season followed by a 20-minute hat-trick from second-half substitute Simeon Jackson.
In between which there was a wonderful debut from young, on-loan Spaniard Dani Pacheco coupled with the usual midfield mastery of Wes Hoolahan. At the back Elliott Ward and Zak Whitbread barely broke sweat.
With leaders QPR still to play, Swansea’s defeat at Preston North End leaves Paul Lambert’s side four points clear in second – and with a four-goal advantage goal difference-wise on third-placed Cardiff City.
“It’s been coming,” said Holt, whose remarkable goal haul now stands at 51 from 85 City appearances following that switch from Shrewsbury Town.
“We’ve been talking about it for the last few weeks – we’ve been playing well and moving it and I’m not saying we lacked an edge, but we’ve been unlucky. Things have just been dropping the other side of the post.
“But I think if we got the second, then someone was going to get hurt. And it’s just unfortunate that today it was my pal Nels [Michael Nelson] who got hurt.”
The former Canary centre-half could do little to hold back the Canary tide – particularly after his partner Paul Reid disappeared for a desperate lunge on Holt for the second.
Faced with Hoolahan, Pacheco and Andrew Surman pinging little balls this way and that, it will take far better teams than The Iron to stop a rampant Norwich from securing back-to-back promotions.
“People will look and think it’s an easy game, but it’s never an easy game,” insisted Holt. “You’re playing Scunthorpe who are fighting for their lives and they kept going to the end – so it’s a credit to them.
“But I thought some of the play today was absolutely fantastic. The way we moved it; the way that David Fox got it and switched it from right to left was a joy to watch.
“When you’re playing in a team like that with Wes [Hoolahan] and Dani [Pacheco] who’s coming off and turning you… I thought they were fantastic.”
Pacheco, it appears, spoke the universal language of football; he and his new strike partner didn’t need to fumble around for a Spanish-English dictionary.
“When you’ve got his feet and his brain, you don’t really need to speak,” laughed Holt, with the 20-year-old claiming big assists for both his near-post opener and that 31st minute penalty.
“I thought the way he played in the first-half and the second was fantastic – some of the areas that he took up were great and he just didn’t get that goal today.”
The goals that did come came for Jackson, who continued to make hay once Holt, Hoolahan and Pacheco had left the field, their jobs well and truly done.
“I’m more pleased for Simeon than I am for myself,” said Holt, with the Canadian reported to have kept the match-ball.
“It’s been coming – he was unlucky not to get a goal at Hull and so to get the three was fantastic. Some of those finishes were not the sign of someone who hasn’t been scoring goals.”
Holt, of course, has. Yesterday’s treble made it nine goals in his last ten appearances for the 29-year-old.
“No – not really,” said the Canary hero, quizzed as to whether he had set himself a 20-goal target at the start of the season.
It is, traditionally, the mark of a genuine promotion hopeful if you have a 20-goal striker up top.
The fact that Holt helped himself to 30 in last year’s League One title campaign made a huge difference to the Canaries hopes of a swift return to the second tier of English football.
The other point to bear in mind is the fact that the City skipper plays games – week after week after week. In fact, he has probably missed more games through suspension than injury in his 18-odd months at Carrow Road.
“Last season I never set figures and as long as the team wins, I don’t really care – that’s always more important,” said Holt.
“I think someone has just said that that’s 51 goals and what’s happened here is just fantastic. I never dreamed that when I first signed it would go so well.
“And I’m lucky,” he added. “I’ve come to a club where we’ve got a manager that wants to win and score goals – and he’s built a team behind me that can put the chances on for you. So it’s been phenomenal what’s happened for me in the last 18 months.”
The only thing missing to make his day complete would be to win first prize in the half-time draw…
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