Holt and Martin shape up as a classic double act
Paddy Davitt Paul Lambert would never publicly admit it but Norwich's fortunes this season hinge on the scoring prowess of Grant Holt and Chris Martin. The duo plundered 47 goals when paired alongside each other during the majority of last year's League One title success.
Paul Lambert would never publicly admit it but Norwich's fortunes this season hinge on the scoring prowess of Grant Holt and Chris Martin.
The duo plundered 47 goals when paired alongside each other during the majority of last year's League One title success. Five more already in three this campaign.
Or two and a bit given Holt's late introduction against Watford in the televised opening night Championship defeat.
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Lambert and his coaching team had the good fortune to inherit the pair. The Scot deserves credit for a system that clearly gets the best out of both. An innovation midfield diamond with an Irish jewel in Wes Hoolahan proved a cut above English football's third tier.
Time will tell if that formula can succeed in the Championship. The best strikers are born with an imperceptible sixth sense to get across a defender at the near post or create that sliver of space inside a congested penalty box for a cut back. But can you fashion a partnership? Manufacture a duo? A union arguably greater than the sum of its parts?
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Neither is blessed with the greatest pace. Martin can shift for a ball into the channel as he proved with his seasonal opener against Gillingham in the Carling Cup, but that goal owed everything to Holt's vision and deft one touch pass.
A Teddy Sheringham-inspired speed of thought moment. An understanding that only comes with games and forensic work on the training pitches of Colney.
Kenny Daglish and Ian Rush, Chris Sutton and Alan Shearer and City's own Ted MacDougall and Phil Boyer all developed a footballing version of telepathy coupled with the killer instinct needed to thrive within the team ethic. But it was forged through sweat and toil.
Holt is one of the best headers of a ball in the Football League. If anyone still needed convincing look at the stunning stoppage time effort which sunk Scunthorpe. Movement. Intuition. Technique. All combined in one dextrous flex of Holt's neck muscles. But Holt would know better than anyone the debt he owed Simon Lappin. The Scot's cross from the left with seconds remaining at Glanford Park deserved a finish to match. City look well stocked with creative flair. Andrew Surman already appears a class act in Canary yellow.
David Fox has the peripheral vision you would expect of someone who graduated from Manchester United's finishing school. Hoolahan and Anthony McNamee deserve a mention in dispatches.
City's supply line should handle an elevation to the Championship. But the Canaries will almost certainly have to buck the attacking trend on recent evidence to progress further.
Newcastle romped to the title with Andy Carroll ploughing a lone furrow. Kevin Nolan offered solid support from midfield with the odd cameo from the likes of Shola Ameobi. West Brom followed in the Geordies' slipstream despite a relatively paltry return of goals led by midfielders Chris Brunt and Graham Dorrans. Blackpool rode their luck through the play-off route with Scottish talisman Charlie Adam scoring just 13 in the regular season.
Adam is deadly from set pieces as he underlined in a memorable play-off final against Cardiff - but you would hardly pigeon hole him as a leader of the line.
The onus rests on Holt. City's skipper should be at his peak after plenty of footballing knock backs. The senior partner. Martin is still only 21. A point Lambert rightly raised last week when dead batting away suggestions he could just have the best strike pair in the division.
Manchester United were once rumoured to be tracking the raw teenager when he burst on the scene in a flurry of goals at this level under Peter Grant.
Kenilworth Road, Luton, provided a more homely destination during a season long spell where Martin learned about the realities of football life outside the comfortable surroundings of Colney and Carrow Road.
Martin's Carling Cup performance last week hinted at an impressive maturity. Yet the bright academy product needs Holt alongside him to blossom. Lambert's conundrum is to harness that potential again this season in the less forgiving surroundings of the Championship.