I have a few concerns about Grant Holt now, and they started to crystalise whilst I was sitting watching the game against Yeading this afternoon in the FA Cup first round. He seems somewhat a shadow of the bustling hardworking frontman who delighted so many of us at the start of the season. Calderwood has endured criticism for leaving him out of the starting line up lately, but frankly, what I’ve seen of him lately the decision seems less confusing.
I would start off by considering Grant Holt’s perspective – he was, as I noted, on a rich vein of form earlier in the season, and must have been thrilled to have stepped into the not inconsiderable boots of Nathan Tyson as our main goal outlet after Tys was injured on the opening day. Indeed, even the Evening Post jumped on the Grant Holt defence case with this article that has no author credited – it reads like a Garry Birtles rant to me, full of high fallutin’ simplistic rhetoric, but nonetheless, it raises an interesting point.
Grant has been our most effective striker in the primary role a striker has, and that’s to score goals – Agogo, for all his endeavour has amassed only 3, two of them came today against non-League opponents, one of them a penalty. I wouldn’t want to join the ranks of fans who seem to feel the need to make Neil Harris a whipping boy, but one goal in his entire Forest career doesn’t make pretty reading. But of course, despite what the Evening Post or Mr Birtles might think, it isn’t the be all and end all for a striker to get goals, and if they help midfielders get on the scoresheet then this is good team play – not papering over the cracks.
So Grant has a fair shout to feel slightly aggrieved – and this is a deliberate choice of word, because in his recent substitute appearances he’s look like that’s how he feels. Whilst he scored against Brentford in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, he spent much of the game not looking particularly impressive, much as he did in the league game when he came on as a sub – the most notable thing is the disinterest, very unlike his early season performances – and a particularly unconvincing dive sticks in the mind also.
That brings me on to today’s game against Yeading - the most noticeable things from him were complaining to the referee, desperately waving for the ball from his teammates and throwing his arms about theatrically when it wasn’t forthcoming – not the sign of a man who is at ease with his life. Nathan Tyson returning to full fitness gradually can’t sit comfortably with him either, if he struggles to get in the team now, imagine the mountain to conquer in doing so with Tyson back in the line up.
I still like Grant, don’t get me wrong – I’m just pontificating about observations of him lately, and comments I’ve both heard and read from other Forest fans or so-called experts. It’s certainly too simplistic to say “He’s our top scoring striker and he was great at the start of the season, therefore play him”, as we know only too well, strikers and all players are subject to form, and it can be gained or lost quite quickly, and for no apparent reason – look at David Johnson’s rollercoaster career of goodness to shitness as a player!
Calderwood publically assured his burgeoning strikeforce that he would be fair and give them all a chance, and indeed, rotate his squad accordingly. Presumably this switch to a three pronged attack is partially mindful of the number of strikers we have, but in so doing he’s conerted Commons into a pseudo striker too, making the roster of players for that position longer still. I think he’s not keeping Holt happy right now, which is obviously a concern – and certainly fuels rumours I’ve seen around various (unreliable) places that he’s out of favour in a more meaningful way with our manager.