Holt vs Agbonlahor
These rumours just don’t seem to go away, and they’re already getting boring. We’ve seen numerous links with Holt, we’ve seen numerous stories linking Agbonlahor with a move away so the Daily Mail being the good sports that they are have released a story mixing the two together.
Here are a few snippets from the piece, which seems to suggest that Lambert is on a sell to buy agenda. I’m not sure that’s the case, as with the wages now more manageable I hope we have more money to spend and the figures quoted are correct:
‘Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill is hoping to be reunited with Gabby Agbonlahor this summer, should Grant Holt complete his move to Aston Villa. New Villa boss Paul Lambert is hoping to bring Holt – his captain at Norwich – to Villa Park. If he does so then fellow striker Agbonlahor will be told he is free to leave the club.
With Villa owner Randy Lerner looking to cut costs, he would have to move players on to compensate for Holt’s arrival, and Agbonlahor is at the front of the queue. The 25-year-old will welcome a reunion with O’Neill, having enjoyed his best form at Villa under the Ulsterman.’
Lambert might have some idea of what he wants to do with regards to the squad, but you still have to imagine/hope that he won’t sell anyone of note without seeing them on the training ground first. I would certainly have other players ahead of Gabby I’d get rid of, and even a few days after these stories came out, I still see a number of Villa fans split on the matter.
I’d keep him for the next season at least, because I think he deserves that opportunity should he want to stay at the club. I’d move him back up front and keep him there, maybe try and get his extreme speed back and use him in addition to Holt, Bent, Weimann and whoever else. He may not like the idea but Gabby could cause chaos as an impact sub after Holt and Bent have tired out the opposition. Of course we’re looking way ahead here, but ultimately I’d like to see the player stay for this season, and potentially much longer if he rediscovers his form.
I’ve had a quick glance at the league stats for Holt and Gabby the last few seasons, and even though Holt has played in the lower leagues the last few years, his impact this season hopefully suggests he can cut it in the Premiership:
2011/12: 35 games, 15 goals.
2010/11: 45 games, 21 goals.
2009/10: 39 games, 24 goals.
2011/12: 33 games, 5 goals.
2010/11: 25 games, 3 goals.
2009/10: 36 games, 13 goals.
Interesting reading, and even though as I mentioned Holt’s last two seasons prior to the one just gone were in lower leagues, in his debut season in the Premiership he’s already bettered Gabby’s best ever total of 13 (He had 11 twice the seasons before that). There is the very real danger of Holt being a one season wonder at this level (I mentioned Micheal Ricketts previously) but his goal record over the years seems to suggest otherwise. It’s also just occurred to me (thanks to a helpful comment below!) that the age is an important factor. So while Holt at 31 might be good for the here and now and maybe the next three seasons, Gabby is still only 25 so has years ahead of him. As the comment suggests if Gabby gets 7-10 goals at a minimum per season for that time, is it worth keeping him? Or should you expect more from a striker?
Ultimately I’m still undecided on the whole thing, but if it came down to swapping Holt for Agbonlahor I wouldn’t be keen. You could certainly see Gabby thriving elsewhere and that is a worry, I don’t want to be asking ‘what if’ with the player, hence why I think he should stay around for just a while yet.
These rumours don’t seem to go away, and hopefully we’ll find out more soon so we can start speculating about other transfer links!