Everyone loves a striker. Their goals can trigger raptures of jubilant celebration and are replayed the following Monday over and over. Should they score enough of them then their status at a club may become worthy of worship by the fans so much so that Chairmen are often prepared to pay the highest fees and the highest wages for their services.
That said then, the decision by Forest to sell their top scorer this season in the January transfer window may at first seem a little odd. Downright ludicrous in fact even if I did tell you that we have so many forwards on the books we are prepared to delay the return from injury of one of the better ones to ease the pressure upon squad rotation.
Infuriating then such a story may be, yet it is the sanctioning of the sale for the same fee as we bought him from a lower league club to a potential championship rival that really raises the hackles. It may not come as any surprise that the fans were displeased to say the least and not just with the arch evil villain himself ? Doughty ? but even with the City Ground?s ?favourite schoolteacher? Colin ?Smoulderwood?.
By rejecting the offer from Bristol City, Grant Holt showered himself with adulation from the Forest faithful who have been hard pressed to find a loyal servant to love and worship within the playing staff of recent years. The Nottingham Evening Post (NEP) painted a picture of a man victimised by the favouritism of the manager for other players over and above the hardworking and committed City Ground favourite. His promise to stay and fight for his place immediately endeared him with many who quickly turned to Calderwood for the hard answer to the question ? why are you getting rid of our darling striker?
Calderwood?s reply was less than convincing and along the lines that Grant is back in the group, working hard in training and is very much part of his immediate plans. Holt had apparently asked to be kept informed of any bids coming his way although where and when he did so is not stated. It would not surprise me at all if Holt requested this however he was probably expecting the offer to come more along the lines from a Championship or even a Premiership club.
The manager is ?delighted? at the striker?s refusal, there is after all no desperation on our part for anyone to leave. Yet the squad is overcrowded and people must leave, especially if there are any designs on bringing in new faces. With former players Friio and Johnson out scouting along with Pleat, this is undeniably the aim and whereas it would be ideal for us to get rid of the dead wood, such as Padula, Grant Holt is infinitely more sellable. After all Calderwood doesn?t go so far as to rule out his exit in January.
Accepting an offer for ?300,000 when the player is worth at least twice that indicates a desire to get rid and quickly. Whether this is due to internal differences is purely speculation yet the idea that it is to raise funds in order to bring in new players such as Dean Windass, is nothing short of ridiculous. Surely it would be in our interests to maximise any financial return we receive from any deal for Holt? Surely we would not repeat the mistakes we made in our negotiations in the sales of the two Marlons? Surely not?
If the board?s and Calderwood?s reputation is far from untarnished by this little episode, neither would I say was Holt?s. His current displacement to the bench since October to make way for a Neil Harris who continues to struggle to find the net has been somewhat puzzling and for many fans, frustrating. Yet he has done little in his cameos as a substitute to prove his worth in the starting line up. The hustle and bustle of an industrious little warrior leading the line at the beginning of the season is replaced with petulance and disgruntlement. Should his problem be with sitting on the bench perhaps a leaf from the book of Harris would be worth taking and then he will know his chance will soon come again.
Upon reading Kris Commons? statement this week that the high moral and team togetherness in the dressing room this season was one of Calderwood?s most notable achievements, the argument that Holt was to be sold following a bust up regarding his role as a substitute sounds a little extreme and somewhat out of character for a man whose ?smile is warm and invites conversation; an unimpressed glare from beneath raised eyebrows is ample admonishment.?
Perhaps then Holt?s request to be kept informed of any bids was made only recently and he was disappointed not that the club doesn?t value him enough to keep him as he is quoted in the NEP, but that the club only values him for the same as what it paid for him. Far be it for me to suggest that a newspaper would quote out of context to suit its own aims of course but Holt was probably after a pay rise that Bristol City couldn?t offer and the talk of a pregnant wife sounds much like a conveniently rolled out excuse to appease the fans. His story was after all, the one put out first.
Unhappy strikers are far from a new phenomenon at the City Ground yet this whole situation may well be a storm in a tea cup caused due to the lack of information offered as to the reasonings why the club felt the need to accept such a paltry offer from Ashton Gate and as to why Holt refused it. Of course both parties need to put a positive spin on their stories and the real truth is unlikely to emerge. From the sidelines it can only be hoped that any problems have been aired and dealt with and that player and club will leave this debacle behind them as they did the Scunthorpe: in an emphatic manner.