We all know how the song for him went.
Gary Holt: he can be here; and there; and pretty much everywhere in-between. An affectionate reflection of the important role that the Scot played during his time anchoring our midfield.
Nowadays the man often referred to as “three lungs” can only be found, in literal terms, in one place; patrolling the technical area slightly behind manager Neil Adams.
However, in a wider more abstract sense, Holt’s presence is very much in evidence here, there and everywhere in this current Norwich side.
This season, much of the credit for our renewed sense of attacking intent has been given over to Neil Adams. Rightly so, the manager has been lauded for returning a verve and ambition to our forward play; characteristics that were sorely lacking during Chris Hughton’s reign.
However, one must not underestimate the positive impact that Holt has on this side and the way in which his style and personality has complemented that of Adams.
During his playing days, Holt was the epitome of the ball-winning, box-to-box midfielder. A combative steeliness, augmented by a desire to push play forward and support the attacking players in the side. Spreading play or seeking to up the tempo with a burst of forward momentum – chest puffed out; shock of ginger hair flashing up the field – he embodied an indefatigable spirit that spurred us on to many a victory.
Since arriving at Norwich, elements of these characteristics have begun to become visible within the current side too.
One area in which his influence can be seen to manifest itself is, somewhat predictably, central midfield. Alex Tettey is a player very much in the Gary Holt mould and his surging forward movement has enabled several counter-attacking moves already. I feared during the summer that Tettey would depart in order to ply his trade at a higher level, but so far this season he has presented as a player freed from the shackles of the deep-lying defensive role; instead encouraged to marshall the centre of the field with a perfect combination of bite and finesse.
It is a combination that would make the Scot proud.
The overall spirit of the side also has all the hallmarks of a well-drilled Gary Holt outfit. Adams himself was no shrinking violet on the pitch, but the resolve on show so far as we’ve gained an impressive 10 points from losing positions must also have a root in Holt’s unflinching, determined qualities, as much as it does in Adams’ adeptness at utilising the half-time team talk.
Of course, Adams should be recognised for bringing Holt in to the first team set up in the first place.
Much was made of Adams’ lack of managerial experience when the club confirmed his full time appointment. Many of the reservations went along the lines of,
“Good coach, but is he a leader of men? A shrewd operator?”
Obviously we are only at the beginning of October and Adams himself has admitted to a degree of naivety with respect to areas such as the way in which he discusses transfer activity, but I feel the fact that he recognised this and sought to bring someone with recent, discernible experience of management on board speaks volumes about his reflective nature and sense of judgement.
It should not be forgotten that Holt had a very commendable spell in charge of Falkirk before moving back to the Fine City; finishing last season with a win percentage of 48 percent – the highest in the club’s history.
In this sense, Holt’s role at Norwich is clearly more that just a tactical one. His knowledge of the current football landscape; its dealings and etiquettes, will prove just as crucial to the successful reign of the current management set up as any training ground drill. He is evidently a key cog in the first team wheel and Adams should be praised for the acquisition of his services.
It is a partnership that is not only beneficial to the first team, but also to the two men themselves.
It is also a partnership that is shaping up to be a tremendously successful and enjoyable one to be a part of.