'Some achievement' for Wigan Athletic to consolidate in the Championship, says Grant Holt
Grant Holt believes Wigan Athletic’s achievement in consolidating in the Championship – a division he reckons is ‘the toughest out there’ – should not be underestimated by anyone.
And he says any fans not happy with the way things are going need only look to neighbours Bolton Wanderers for proof of what can happen when clubs overstretch themselves.
The 38-year-old was speaking exclusively to the Wigan Observer, to promote his newly-released autobiography.
He’s a happy man at the moment, having seen Norwich City – the club with which he’s most associated – winning promotion to the Premier League.
Despite not enjoying nearly as successful a time with Latics between 2013-15, he says fans should be happy enough with the way things are going at the moment.
“The Championship is the toughest league out there – without a shadow of a doubt,” he insisted.
“A lot of people don’t realise what a good standard it is...you’ve only got to look at the quality and the size of the sides in there.
“There’s so many sides in there chucking fortunes at the dream of the Premier League.
"And even the teams coming up from League One will be giving it a good go next year.
“No-one at the start of the season would have given Norwich a chance of winning the title - myself included.
"Look at Sheffield United...you might have thought they’d do okay, but to finish second?
“Most people had Leeds down as champions from early in the season – and they fell away.
“Every year it’s the same...massive clubs like Sheffield Wednesday, Nottingham Forest, Derby County, can’t get out of there. Just being in there is some achievement.”
While younger Latics fans will yearn for a return to the Premier League, those fans of a certain vintage will feel the club is still punching above its historical weight in the second tier.
And Holt’s own childhood memories underline just how far the club has come in a relatively short space of time.
“I’m old enough to remember Wigan Athletic at Springfield Park...sliding down the grass bank in the away end watching Carlisle in the old Fourth Division!” he laughed.
“We’d go home full of mud because we were sliding up and down the slope on a Tuesday night!
“And people need to remember that about Wigan...they’ve come so long in such a short space of time.
“Yes they’ve spent a lot of years in the Premier League, and those memories are still very recent.
“But it’s very easy for clubs to slip out of the Premier League and find themselves stuck back in League One and worse.
“For Wigan to have done what they’ve done this year, on the budget they’ve had, with the transition of new owners coming in, it’s fantastic.
“Hopefully they can make that transition to establishing themselves as a strong Championship team, and getting the infrastructure in place to go again.
“They’ve got a new training ground, I know they’ve got some fantastic kids coming through, and that bodes well for the future.
“I know there’ll be those who won’t be happy unless the club is back in the Premier League.
"But if you can be a sustainable Championship club, that’s no mean feat.
“Listen, all Wigan fans have to do is look what’s happened down the road...look at the madness that’s gone on.
“And they’ll probably sit back and be happy where their own club is at.”