City supporters this afternoon didn’t know which way to turn good news-wise as new boss Chris Hughton unveiled three, ‘new’ players for their delectation and delight – Steven Whittaker, Jacob Butterfield and some lad called Holt.
The 31-year-old City skipper today put a summer of much speculation to bed and got the third year to his contract.
In every likelihood, Holt will now see out the remaining years of his career at Carrow Road and watch his three, young daughters grow up in Norfolk. Which was all he ever wanted.
“A lot of people would have liked to have got it sorter a lot sooner, but we’ve got there in the end – and I’m happy to do that,” said Holt, fresh from penning that new, three-year deal and ending all talk of a summer switch to the East End of London.
A first, face-to-face meeting with new boss Hughton had clearly speeded the process; a few heads were then banged together after both manager and player alike confirmed that it was a deal that needed to be done; the result was today’s announcement – one which was in danger of over-shadowing the arrival of Rangers’ utility player Whittaker and Barnsley’s boy wonder Butterfield.
But to have secured the services of City’s three-time Player of the Season for, effectively, the foreseeable future was always going to be the biggest piece of news this afternoon; the one that would make the Sky Sports headlines.
Now all that remained was to add to his extraordinary goal tally over the last three, remarkable seasons and gun for a fourth, successive Barry Butler Memorial Trophy – if the likes of a Butterfield or a Howson or a Ruddy don’t intervene.
“The intention was never to leave,” he said simply. “You don’t put a transfer request in when I’ve achieved what I’ve achieved here for no reason.
“At the time I felt that I was maybe being unrewarded for what I had done – and I explained to them. I wanted to see my career out here. I’ve had three great years, why wouldn’t I want to stay?
“It was always about securing the family. Everyone knows that I have got three young kids that I want structure for – I want them to stay. Everyone knew that I was settled and I just wanted to make sure that I had that for three years – and that everything was right.”
From an ‘intractable position’ that chairman Alan Bowkett saw on the day that Hughton signed in as boss, someone has clearly rowed back into a position that made today’s announcement possible. Hughton himself described securing Holt’s future as his ‘outstanding priority’ since his arrival.
The manager – just as much as the player – might have made such intentions plain to the board.
In fairness, their position may equally have shifted again since the financial implications of the new BSkyB/BT deal sank in. Either way, it has been done; put to bed; sorted.
“There’s been a lot of speculation; a lot of things have been said,” said Holt. “And a lot of it was nonsense. And when you’re reading it, you are getting annoyed but you don’t want to comment because you don’t want to drag club stuff through everywhere.
“But I’m just delighted to get it to bed, to be honest,” he added. “I’m just looking forward to getting back in next week and getting back to work, as they say.”
And with a firm relationship now established with Paul Lambert’s successor. In a sense, both have looked after eachother – Holt gets his three years, Hughton a huge piece of his jigsaw bedded into his thinking a week before the start of pre-season.
“It’s a good appointment,” the Canary skipper confirmed. “I spoke to him this week and he told me his plans and what he wanted to do – and he told me he wanted me to stay which is the main thing I wanted to hear.
“As I said to Chris [Hughton], well you speak to the board, get it sorted this week and I’ll do it.”
Less than 48 hours later and both men proved true to their word. Was there compromises made on both sides?
“My aim has been reached – I got my three years,” said Holt. “There were things that maybe shouldn’t have been said over the last six weeks, but we’ve resolved them. We sat down, spoke about it, dealt with that and we’ll move on.
“And at the end of the day, what we’re all here for is to keep this club where it is.”
That and to keep the Holt family firmly embedded in Norfolk living. And that’s now a big job done.
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