City boss Paul Lambert today once more proved as good as his word. Time and again he has told his players that if they do well for him, he’ll do well by them.
Simon Lappin, Adam Drury and Wes Hoolahan are among those who have already seen the manager put words into deeds with the offer of new contracts.
Today and City skipper Grant Holt joined that happy band as he signed a new, three-year deal with the Canaries to tie the 29-year-old to the Norfolk club to 2014.
It sets everyone up so nicely for that trip to Swansea City this weekend; a feel-good factor runs right through both dressing room and terraces right now.
“Grant deserves this new contract for the way that he has played for us since he came here,” Lambert told the club’s official website today.
Saturday’s second hat-trick of the season took Holt’s tally to 51 goals from his 85 appearances since that switch from Shrewsbury Town in the summer of 2009.
He now has the platform and the security he needs to go on and smash yet more Canary scoring records after that 30-goal haul last season and the 21 thus far this.
He is also in the box seat to pick up the ‘Player of the Season’ award this summer; the fact that he has likewise risen magnificently to the additional challenges of captaincy ensures a lasting place in the City Hall of Fame.
“His performance levels have been really high and his goal-scoring record speaks for itself,” added Lambert.
“He’s been great for us and made a great contribution to what we’re trying to do. He has built a good relationship with the fans here and now he’s got the security of knowing that he’s here for another three years and hopefully keep on doing it for them.”
The player himself confirmed that today’s contract news completed a ‘fantastic’ week.
“It’s come at a great time,” he said. “I’m here to score goals and get this club back to where it should be. We’re on the brink of that now – if we can keep doing what we have been doing over the last couple of games.”
What’s interesting about today’s richly-deserved new deal for the City striker and principal centre-forward is the fact that the Canaries could this time return to the Premiership with a major piece in their strike and dressing room jig-saw in place.
Without re-visiting too many old arguments, when Norwich last graced the top-flight on the back of that 2004 Championship title triumph under Nigel Worthington, it was not until the belated arrival of Dean Ashton that City had an out-and-out, big target man ‘up top’ – Iwan Roberts having been denied that opportunity.
At 29-years-old, Holt could be coming into his prime as a centre-forward.
Not just that, it has long been evident that he possesses the on-field leadership qualities that Lambert admires and the Premiership demands.
Hence the importance of today’s new deal. And the likelihood that Michael Foulger’s £2 million share purchase last January has taken something of a hit to secure this particular deal.
In the meantime, Holt was taking absolutely nothing for granted going into this weekend’s ‘game of the day’ clash at The Liberty Stadium, Swansea.
It is not quite a ‘Winner takes all!’ contest – not with six games and 18 points still up for grabs between now and the end of the season.
But the Swans know all-too well that after last weekend’s 2-1 away defeat at struggling Preston North End they can ill-afford to see another three points slip through their fingers and watch Lambert’s flying Canaries give themselves a seven-point advantage.
Particularly if another defeat allows Cardiff City to cement their place at the head of that chasing pack. The fact that the Norfolk side head into Saturday evening’s live contest on the back of their biggest league win for 40-odd years also, says Holt, means nowt.
It who turns up on the day; who puts the biggest shift in; who wants it the more.
“It was always going to be a big one next week,” said Holt, speaking immediately after bagging his second hat-trick of the season against The Iron last weekend.
The Swans were, of course, losing 2-1 at struggling Preston North End; they have been a-wobbling for a while now.
“We can never worry about what goes on at other places,” he said.
“As the manager says every week, worry about your own job and see where it takes you.
“And it’s set up nice for next week. We’re not stupid – we’ve got to go down there and it’s going to be a tough game.
“They’re a team that’ll be hurting from getting beat at Preston and it should be fantastic for everyone to watch.”
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