Class of 2019: Rob Holding
This article is an excerpt from the Class of 2019 feature from Issue 01 of GAFFER: ‘England’s Finest’. Available from our online shop now.
It seems an obvious statement, but Rob Holding’s casual tone belies a young man both taking in the vast and eye wateringly swift step-up he’s made professionally and also a person at total ease with the process? “Getting picked up by Arsenal was a big moment.” Bolton Academy to the first team of one of Europe’s elite footballing institutions? For a Young Lion like Holding, it’s something you take in your stride.
It’s arguable that too much emphasis is placed on the ‘school of hard knocks’ that the lower English leagues can provide, but for a centre-half you’re going receive a grizzled elbow to the face now and again. Holding carries that ability with him, as witnessed by the way in which he’s tackled his proper Premier League introduction. “This season I think it’s obviously a big change with the manager changing over, and I want to be a mainstay in the team and get as much as game time as I can in the Prem,” he said. “That’s the main goal, and hopefully I’ll get cup competitions as they come.”
With Unai Emery taking the reigns at Arsenal after Wenger’s phenomenally log twenty-two year stint, Holding is another Young Lion at the forefront of the footballing revolution taking place at the North London club. In a side long chastised for its soft core, there’s clear signs that those days are becoming a thing of the past.
Wenger brought Holding into the fold, it’s important to note. But there’s a chance that Holding’s career development can segue nicely with the arrival of the slick-haired Emery, a bonafide battle hardened coach from the continent, obsessed with shape and pressing and discipline.
“I think the new contract gives me that security and gives me a chance to mature. I’m still only 22, and it lasts for four years when I’ll be 26. Hopefully by then I’ll be a frequent starter in the team,” he said. England and Arsenal fans will be united behind this same desire for the Bolton boy done good.