When Grant Holt put in a shock transfer request last week the initial assumption was that the 31 year old was capitalising on a solitary decent season in the top flight to secure a big-money move away from Carrow Road. Cue widespread condemnation.
The Cutter understands however that avarice and ambition are not the determining factors in his desire to leave East Anglia but rather a working relationship with manager Paul Lambert that has reportedly soured beyond repair.
While the board have done all they can by offering the striker – who is already the club’s highest earner – a bumper pay rise within an improved three-year deal it may not be enough to keep Holt from the clutches of a chasing pack of clubs, headed by Sunderland.
The proffered £20,000 a week would be easily topped at the Stadium of Light with Martin O’Neill desperate to add a prolific targetman as his first order of business in the summer window. After missing out on Fulham’s Pavel Pogrebnyak and the capture of Ivory Coast star Arouna Kone now looking extremely unlikely Holt has been identified as the perfect candidate – for the perfect price – to lead the Wearsider’s front line next term.
Holt himself however has confessed to being settled in the Norwich area and enjoys the adoration of his cult status amongst the fans. Although missing out of a Euro squad place was understandably a massive disappointment – with the feeling that should his 17 goals have been scored for a supposedly bigger club such heartbreak would have been avoided – the Canaries’ fantastic mid-table finish have matched his ambitions to succeed at the highest level and there is the real possibility of progressing further next season.
However, all of that has been rendered redundant due to the rumoured breakdown in communication with the man who can make that progression happen.
Paul Lambert has garnered a lot of praise for his sterling work at Carrow Road, taking them to back-to-back promotions to the promised land of the Premier League. He does though have a cold, detached manner that has alienated some key personnel at the club notably Holt who is alleged to feel under-valued and disrespected by his gaffer.
The gruff Scot, who is no fan of the media, poured scorn on the rumours of a long-standing dispute between himself and Holt on Tuesday saying, “I’ve never had a fall out with Grant in one iota”. However, talk persists that this is indeed the real reason for the player’s recent actions in seeking a move elsewhere.
Of course, he may not have to. Lambert is himself heavily linked with a fresh challenge at Villa Park with the bookmakers installing him as clear favourite to take over from Alex McLeish. Though he has distanced himself from the rumours Canaries fans are becoming increasingly exasperated at Lambert’s refusal to issue a straightforward denial and the popular opinion is that should Villa make a formal approach Lambert – a man known in the game for his singular ambition – would be keen.
Whatever the outcomes what is becoming more so evident is that unless an unlikely accordant is reached Norwich City are almost certain to be minus a manager or star striker in the weeks ahead.