If anyone epitomizes Mark Warburton’s first 5 months in charge at Ibrox – it’s Jason Holt.
Intelligent, quick, creative and technically brilliant– Holt is exactly what Rangers have been missing in recent years, and is the benchmark for the current manager’s footballing philosophy.
Holt has quickly developed into a much revered man at Ibrox, and is now central to Rangers promotion bid and newly implemented attacking style.
His tireless displays, perfectly timed runs and clinical finishing have earned him rave reviews from fans, teammates and of course the manager.
“He’s maintained a level of consistency which is first class. There is no doubt about his quality,” said Warburton last month.
The manager’s faith in him speaks volumes but not everyone was quite so sure when he was first linked.
“Hearts reject” was popular at the time. Not only was this disrespectful to the player but it actually isn’t true. Hot WAS offered a contract at Tyncastle but decided he needed a new challenge and jumped on the Warburton bandwagon. Robbie Neilson said at the time: “Jason has decided not to stay and we are due a development fee, so it’s up to the player and his agent to decide what he does next.”
Many Hearts fans were adamant the club should have kept Holt and claimed he was unlucky not to feature more regularly last term.
Many Sheffield Utd fans also praised Holt’s impact during his 6 months on loan there, where he netted an impressive 5 goals from midfield.
The only reason Holts move to Bramall Lane didn’t become permanent was because Nigel Clough didn’t want to halt the progress of Sheffield’s own home-grown talent. On Sheffield fan commented: “He has good technique, quick feet and a decent brain.”
So how did Holt end up at Rangers?
After deciding not to continue with Hearts, Holt was offered the chance to train with the Rangers squad under the new management team in the hope of winning a contract. Like midfield partner Andy Halliday, Holt impressed as a trialist, scoring against Ayr Utd and impressing agsint Burnley. This was enough to convince Warburton to sign him up.
The development fee was handled pretty respectfully between Rangers and Hearts with Neilson saying: “We won’t demand silly money – we know the financial situation in football – and we’ll take it from there. Looking back, he probably wishes it had been silly money.
On signing, Holt said: “It’s a massive club. We all know the history of Rangers. The standard is great.
“People can talk all they want. I’ve come to a massive club, there is no doubting that.”
Mark Warburton continually talks about getting “value” from players when talking about new signings and Jason Holt Is the perfect example. He has started every league game except one and has contributed 7 goals and 5 assists in all competitions. His recent from has been a particular stand out, netting 4 goals in 6 games. Three of these goals came in games where Rangers weren’t at their best and without the little man’s goals; we might not be as comfortable as we currently are.
“No, he hasn’t surprised me. We’d never sign players here we didn’t think added value on and off the pitch.” This assurance and confidence from Warburton shows just how good an eye for a player he has. Holt will only get better and better and has a three year contract with the club. Still only, 22, its frightening to think how good he could become.