The signing of Grant Holt might well be a landmark for Wigan Athletic. The centre-forward’s rise through the divisions mirrors that of the club he has joined – early years in non-league football followed by a period of consolidation in each of the three Football League divisions before enjoying Premier League success. Like Wigan Athletic, he has come up the hard way and he should be very proud of his achievements.
Holt is not the type of player that Roberto Martinez would have been looking at bringing to Wigan. He is often euphemistically called an archetypal, bustling centre forward. There used to be an abundance of those in English football before the advent of the Premier League and subsequent influx of foreign players. They got most of their goals from crosses coming in from the wings after physical battles with centre halves and goalkeepers.
Grant Holt became an icon at Norwich. His goals helped bring them up two divisions, into the Premier League. Coincidentally, he made his top flight debut at the DW Stadium in the first match of the 2011-12 season. He was to end up second leading scorer in the Premier League, in addition to winning his club’s ‘Player of the Season’ award for the third successive year.
It is reported that the 32-year-old has signed a three-year contract at Wigan — a lot for someone his age. Though snapped up at a bargain price, the length of contract was probably necessary bait to secure his services. Owen Coyle has done well to beat off the opposition to this signing.
The new manager has now made seven new signings at the time of writing in a space of just over two weeks. Moreover there is not a single one that looks questionable. He is going for players with the kind of background and experience to get Latics out of the Championship division. The football is not going to be as silky as that we saw in the FA Cup Final, but the parameters have changed and up to this point Coyle’s recruitment looks impressive.
To view Holt as a physical player without much skill would be a mistake. His close control in scoring a superb goal against Everton is one to be savoured. A brilliantly taken goal against Manchester United also shows his capabilities.
Holt’s goals might well send Latics back to the Premier League. The prospect of him getting on the end of those sublime crosses from Jean Beausejour and the cut backs from the speedy Callum McManaman is mouth watering.
Despite Roberto Martinez continuing to raid Wigan Athetic of players and coaching staff – Arouna Kone, Antolin Alcaraz and Dennis Lawrence being the latest – Owen Coyle has got the club headed in the right direction.
In contrast with previous years new players have been brought in early, allowing them time to settle into the club and its culture. The Coyle dynasty is taking shape quickly, and the signs are encouraging.