‘We’re in a far better place’ – Holt hopeful that City can become established in the Premier League
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City are much better placed to become established in the Premier League now than they were in 2011 under Paul Lambert, according to club legend Grant Holt.
The former striker was an integral part of the Canaries team which rose from financial trouble in League One to claim superb back-to-back promotions to the Premier League.
Holt then scored 15 goals as Lambert led City to a 12th-place finish in the top flight in 2012, yet the three-time Player of the Season winner believes the work of sporting director Stuart Webber and head coach Daniel Farke in unexpectedly winning the Championship title has totally changed the prospects of the club he served so memorably.
"If you'd have asked me whether we'd get 47 points when we went up, and would finish 12th, I probably would have said no - and that's me being in the dressing room," he admitted.
"It's difficult, there's no way to get round it. It's tough and it's a tough division. The thing about the group here is they've got a great unit, of what they want to be.
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"The one thing I would say about the club is that we're in a lot better position now than when I went up, in terms of everything behind the scenes, the commercial side, the football side, the in-depth recruitment, the new training ground, everything like that.
"We're in a far better place, we're two years earlier than the plan suggested to get into the Premier League, which is fantastic, and if we stay up then even better.
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"The recruitment will be great, I don't think you'll see the mistakes that were made in paying big wages to big players on three-year contracts, I can't see that happening.
"I think we'll be clever, we'll try and do it the right way, we'll try and build, and try to bring the young lads through again. Hopefully we've got a few lads who can break into Daniel's team, and we'll keep building.
"That's what Norwich have got to do, we've got to be realistic. We're a football club that, yes we should be in the Premier League, but we've got to be realistic about being in there.
"This club can't ever go back to the realms of when I was here in League One and they were close to going into administration. This club needs to be solid, which it is at the moment, keep building, keep bringing the young kids through, keep using the money like we are and try to stay in the Premier League a lot longer than one or two years."
Holt has just had his autobiography published and has retired from professional action, turning out occasionally for Wroxham in the Eastern Counties League, when he can, and for Horsford Veterans.
As well as his wrestling exploits - performing at Carrow Road in Fightmare last Sunday - the 38-year-old coaches on a part-time basis for the Canaries and is a club ambassador, as well as coaching at Langley School.
"I retired thinking that's what you do, you retire, it's nice and quiet - but I've retired and I've been the busiest I've ever been!" Holt joked.
"I'm pretty good at the moment, I've got the TV (punditry) work in the background, I've got the ambassador stuff with the club which I've enjoyed this year. It's taken me to see a lot of different stuff, which is great because that's what I enjoy doing.
"I enjoy going out into communities and the stuff we did with Gasway with the little kids and stuff like that, I love that.
"I've got my coaching, which I'm hopefully going to build it up a bit more this year, still doing my badges and stuff. I've still got the private school and the TV, and obviously Norwich getting promoted gives me a lot more opportunity to work on that.
"But I'm going to focus mainly this year on trying to get my coaching up to spec and move on with that a little bit more."
His book, entitled A Real Football Life, is available from the club's shops already and will be in book shops nationwide from Friday.
The former Canaries captain is confident that supporters will learn plenty they don't already know about a player who scored 78 goals in 168 games between 2009 and 2013.
"I think you see a different side when you read through it, of me outside of football, the person I am and the character," he added.
"I think you get a good sense of what the group was like as well, you get an inside look at how tight we were, how close-knit and how much we wanted to win for each other.
"Me, as a captain, at times I think everyone thought it was me who was driving it and it wasn't. The book will let people know that there were a lot of people behind the scenes who got the club where it needed to go."