Iwan - Now Holt can be a record breaker
Former Norwich City favourite Iwan Roberts believes Grant Holt’s new contract can see him go on to secure his place in the club’s record books.
City announced on Wednesday captain Holt has signed a new three-year deal at Carrow Road, tying the 29-year-old – who celebrates his birthday when Norwich play at Watford on Tuesday – down until the summer of 2014.
It has been some week for Holt, whose hat-trick against Scunthorpe United on Saturday took him through the 50-goal mark in just 85 games – only Ralph Hunt has managed the feat quicker in a yellow shirt. And with the second placed Canaries taking on fourth placed Swansea in a genuinely mouth-watering Championship clash in south Wales on Saturday evening, Roberts believes the news of Holt’s deal is perfectly timed.
“It’s great news before probably the biggest game of the season – they’ve done really well to announce it now; everyone will be on a high before Swansea,” said Roberts. “But it’s thoroughly deserved. He’s been outstanding since he has been here, he is club captain, scoring goals on a regular basis and he’s a nice lad off the pitch as well, which is always nice.
“He’s had an unbelievable two years and has even admitted it himself he can’t believe how well it has gone. But it goes to show with perseverance and hand work what can be achieved really, because he’s done it the hard way, been in the lower leagues and had a taste of that, had a chance at Nottingham Forest and it never really worked out for him there.
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“But he’s taken his chance here with both hands and he has got every chance of breaking a few records if he carries on the way he is – and it will only be a matter of not seasons, but season I would have thought.”
Roberts, who scored 96 goals during his own seven season spell at Carrow Road, currently works for BBC Wales – for whom he will be working when the Canaries come to town at the weekend.
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And the 42-year-old cannot wait for kick-off, as the Swans – currently behind third placed Cardiff on goal difference – look to claw back their four point deficit to Norwich.
“It’s a massive game for both clubs – and probably bigger for Swansea because I don’t think they can afford to lose,” said Roberts. “If they do, that’s them seven points behind Norwich with six games to play and that’s a lot of points to make up when you are against a side who don’t look like dropping points, who are playing well, are massively confident, winning games and scoring goals.
“If Swansea lose on Saturday it will be a tough ask for them to finish second. But they are strong at home – have won three out of their last four and scored 10 goals.
“The last time they were at home they played really well against Forest but conceded two sloppy goals. But they pass the ball really well, have got good forward thinking players and it’s going to be a really entertaining game. In fact, the two teams are probably the best footballing sides in the division. But you wouldn’t like to call a winner.”
The primary aim for Paul Lambert’s Norwich side will be to avoid defeat in south Wales – although Roberts does not feel they should change their usual positive attitude for anything.
“Swansea play a different formation and where Norwich will have to be careful is that they rely on their full-backs to bomb forward, and that is probably the strongest positions for Swansea, where they’ve got Scott Sinclair and Nathan Dyer – that is where they can hurt teams. But I wouldn’t change anything. Why change a winning side? It’s something that has worked for you all season, so go down there and make them worry about you. Make them change for you.
“If you start the game and Swansea are on top and you can’t get a foothold in the game, then you’re going to need a plan B, which I’m sure Paul Lambert will have. They just go out to try and win games and he will expect his players to do that. It’s what he has done since he has been here and I know the importance of the game, but I can’t for the life of me think that he would change that.
“Even if Norwich lose on Saturday they are still in a really strong position – I’m not sure about Cardiff’s chances. They have got good individuals but they don’t play as a team like Norwich and Swansea do.”