Published on Arsenal Mania
That £5 note you find in your old jeans. Getting to work and remembering that tomorrow is the start of a Bank Holiday Weekend. After a long day at work and finding out you’ve got a roast dinner waiting for you.
Finding good stuff really puts a brightener on your day. It doesn’t happen often enough for the regularity to dull it, and when it does occur, your whole mood changes. Maybe for five minutes, maybe the whole complexion of your day is uplifted.
One of the few things that can match that high is a bargain. One of those buys that you’re sure the shop has placed the wrong price sticker on. It is so cheap you’re worried until you’ve left the store. It is such a steal you feel like a shoplifter.
So just imagine how Arsene Wenger felt when he first saw Rob Holding in action on the training field.
The £2m outlay we splashed on the 21yr old last summer didn’t initially raise any eyebrows. It seemed as if the purchase for this young defender was one for the future, one to keep our eyes on in the next few seasons to see if he would make the grade or if he – like so many others of his age – would fade into obscurity with a series of loans and an inevitable slide down the leagues.
18 appearances later, and we are singing his name in the stands.
The normal parameters have not applied to this starlet so far in what is his first taste of the top flight. Players usually require a long run in the side to guarantee rhythm and the honing of their talents so we can see the keenest edge of their play. Rob Holding – you know – has been in and out of the team and yet has been an immovable force in terms of stifling attacking opponents. He hasn’t needed the run of games, he has just given it everything he has got.
It is since we have switched to three central defenders though, that we have had to squint our eyes as the brightness has burned into our retina’s. Holding has taken to his task with gusto and taking every obstacle that he has faced this season into consideration – he hasn’t looked out of place alongside his more illustrious and experienced defensive partners.
This is his first season in the Premier League. Prior to this, he played 30 games for Bolton Wanderers in the Championship in a season which saw the Trotters relegated. His displays despite the poor results showed a boy who had the instincts and defensive nous which could be sculpted. He marshalled the Bolton backline in what was his first full season as a pro. That screams leadership. It bellows nerves of steel and an unwillingness to yield.
This season we are seeing what a player this young man could become. He will have his wobbles next season as the second season syndrome kicks in – all youngsters who blaze a trail in their first season will always find a sticky patch in their next campaign, much like Alex Iwobi – but we need to remember the player he can become.
Mistakes are what players need to learn. It means his howlers will take place on the biggest of stages, but he needs the scars to lure out the player that he can become. This is how these youngsters improve.
His first season shows he promises much. If he carries on his current trajectory, there is no telling what he can achieve. What a player we have found, and we have every right to be excited.
Who knows what levels he can reach. Cannavaro, watch out.