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Make Your Case: Should Sunderland Be Trying To Sign Grant Holt?

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While some features on the site have come to a crashing halt over the summer, we're also starting some new ones like this one entitled "Make Your Case".

As those of you who listen to the Podcast will know, or who follow on Twitter will know, we've occasionally had our disagreements among the writers here at Roker Report, and now you can have your say on them too. Every now and then, when there's something we've been at each others throats over, we're going to bring it here, air our thoughts, and let you decide who makes the most compelling argument.

So for the first of these we're looking at Grant Holt. Should we be making a move for the Norwich City striker in the wake of his recent transfer request? Simon Walsh makes the case for Holt, while Michael Graham makes the case against him...

Simon Walsh: Grant Holt Would Be An Excellent Signing

I'd be delighted to see Grant Holt at Sunderland. Prior to the recent reports of a transfer request being handed in, I felt he was exactly the type of striker we could do with, but it was highly unlikely given the good season and plaudits earned at Norwich City this season. The transfer request, in the wake of rumours he's wanting to move closer to his native Carlisle, is a huge game-changer.

Holt brings power, a dominating aerial presence, and is a brilliant finisher as we saw with some wonderful goals against Everton and Wolves this season. Much more of an all-round striker than a target man. He's Nicklas Bendtner with five times more desire, or Darren Bent but much more unselfish... aka the striker we've always wanted.

There's arguments to be made against Holt, which I'm sure Michael will outline below, but lets be honest, they're all very wishy-washy in my eyes.

He's getting on now he's aged 31, and wouldn't have a great deal of resale value if any, but does that really matter? Sometimes it's not about signing a player to flog on later for twice the price if he gives you three to four solid years of service. If Holt can do that for Sunderland, it will be money well spent.

The other argument that he might be a "one season wonder"... so could anyone? So could Papiss Cisse, so could have been Kevin Phillips, and while they're younger than Holt, the resale argument falls down as who's going to give us our money back or more for a player who has failed at the highest level?

Those who do use the one season wonder argument clearly haven't been paying enough attention anyway. He's scored over 15 goals in each of his last four seasons, giving him a total of 80 league goals in 162 league games. It's been a while since we had a one-in-two striker.

Holt also won Norwich's Player Of The Season award in each of his three seasons at the club, those who know him best and watch him on a regular basis will tell you, the stats are backed up with some exceptional play.

Some argue that he's not a big enough name, with us having gone from Darren Bent to Asamoah Gyan to Nicklas Bendtner and potentially to Grant Holt. Is that a decline? Names wise, you'd have to say so, on the other hand, we will have had, or did have all three of the previous incumbents, plus Holt, in their prime.

If people don't think that the highest English scorer behind Wayne Rooney this season isn't good enough for us, the club who came 13th last year and didn't have a scorer in double figures, then you're deluding yourself. At the same time I challenge you to find a more suitable alternative. An alternative that is both affordable, and fits the bill as a powerhouse forward O'Neill loves, and isn't too far from these shores given O'Neill's transfer history.

With James McClean on one wing getting crosses in, Sebastian Larsson or whoever on the right doing the same, with Holt getting his head on things and Sessegnon picking up the pieces. It's a mouthwatering possibility, and a very real one.

Michael Graham: Grant Holt Is Not The Striker We're Looking For

Clearly Grant Holt has enjoyed a superb season with Norwich. You have to credit him for that. It is possible to respect an achievement in isolation whilst still questioning whether or not he has it in him to repeat it, though.

Lets be perfectly frank about this - if not for last season, Grant Holt would be a 31-year-old journeyman lower-league forward who has bounced around from club to club his entire career. Is there anything in that which screams 'must-have'?

I can accept that players can sometimes be late-bloomers, especially forwards of Holt's ilk who require time to learn how to use their body to protect the ball. The clichéd 'target man' role is one that is made for maturity. But to invest in a player the wrong side of 30 with such a dearth of proven top level experience must be considered to be a huge risk.

Some will say that he has proven he can do it at Premier League level, and you have to accept that he has. He hasn't proven he can do it consistently, however. The fact he regularly found himself relegated to the substitute bench at Carrow Road suggests he often struggled with the demands of a single Premier League season, never mind a sustained career at this level. When that starts happening to players at Holt's age, it's only ever going to get worse, not better.

There is another question worth considering, too; has Holt's performances been enhanced by his status as a talismanic figure at Norwich? You can look at Ricardo Fuller at Stoke, Kevin Davies at Bolton, or Duncan Ferguson at Everton to see that it certainly wouldn't be the first time. Some players just find themselves perfectly in tune with a specific club, and without that energy there to tap into, they can not replicate that magic elsewhere.

Having had the pleasure to bask in the incandescent splendor of Kevin Phillips' glory years, Sunderland fans know better than most that one great season can lead to a great career. So it would be disingenuous to dismiss Holt away as a one-season-wonder. Question is, do you really want Sunderland to be the club to take the risk that he isn't? Right now he hasn't achieved anything that Michael Ricketts, Marcus Stewart, Marlon Harewood, or Hamilton Ricard haven't also done. Lets not forget that.

Money is also sure to be tight at Sunderland this summer. There is much work to be done in the transfer market and that has to be done in conjecture with reducing the wage-bill, and it seems highly unlikely that Norwich will be in a mood to let their captain and top-scorer go cheaply. Surely that money would be better spent on someone else?

As I opened with, I have nothing but admiration for what Grant Holt achieved last season. Signing him would just be wrought with risk, though, and there is neither track record nor long-term future in which to invest.


So who's side are you on? What are your thoughts now you've seen both sides of the argument? Vote in the poll below and leave your own comments!

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