Aside from the solitary victory in over four months of football, Bolton Wanderers fans have not had literally a single thing to celebrate in recent times. The club continues to perilously slide towards administration, relegation is a certainty, a takeover is yet to be completed, the club needs money to survive and is selling assets one-by-one to raise funds, the team are playing horrendously and the manager is even worse.
It is not a fun time to be a supporter of the Whites.
Yet, there is one reason to at least be the slightest bit positive about, and that is the sudden emergence of Rob Holding.
The 20-year old actually made his first team debut way back on the second game of the season against Middlesbrough. It was somewhat a baptism of fire as he was played on the right side of a three-man defence, a position and formation he had never (to my knowledge) played before, and the whole thing ended in disaster.
It was by no means the fault of Holding alone as not one player left the pitch with a shed of credibility that day, as Stewart Downing, Diego Fabrini and Kike wilfully ripped us to shreds, three goals to nil. After which Holding wasn't seen in the first team again until just under four months later, when the Trotters traveled to Humberside on December 12th.
Holding started in that defeat to Hull City and has started in the five games since too. He's been positioned at right-back for all of those matches and, even though he's naturally a centre-back, has performed brilliantly in all - well, Rotherham aside - of them.
He's bypassed the two natural right backs we finally signed in the summer to that position, with Francesco Pisano looking like he'll be on the next flight back to Italy after just one appearance and Lawrie Wilson already sent to Peterborough United on loan. It also appears as if he's leaped frogged fellow youngsters Oscar Threlkeld and Hayden White in the pecking order, as both of whom are out on loan and have never been given nearly as much game time by Neil Lennon as Holding has. Even Josh Vela, who Lennon tends to put at right back when no one else is available, has seemingly been pushed into midfield for goo after Holding's performances.
After a loan move to Bury last season ended with only the single appearance and no fanfare, I thought Holding's time at the Macron had come to an end. But he's bounced back admirably and is now taking his chance in the team with both hands.
In terms of his performances on the pitch, Holding has looked like a seasoned veteran who's been plowing down the right hand side for years, not a rookie newcomer who's only ever played seven first team games. He has his faults at right back, don't get me wrong, his positioning isn't the best, he struggles (but who wouldn't?) when teams specifically target him and he occasionally takes unnecessary risks on the ball, but it's nothing that A) experience and B) playing in his natural position wouldn't fix.
Those minor negatives aside, Holding is confident on the ball and isn't afraid to run forward with it himself, proving on a couple of occasions that he does have it in him to beat a man and get a dangerous ball into the box. He reads the game intelligently allowing him to cut out some dangerous passes and most of all he is great in the tackles, and has made some in his few appearances that I've actually got up and celebrated (that one towards the end against Blackburn).
He's only young and still learning in an atrocious team in an even worse position, but he is standing out amongst a whole lot of shite. Maybe that is just through the fact that he is a young kid who is a whole lot more passionate on the pitch than some of the seniors and that is clouding my judgement to how good he actually is, but I don't think so and believe we have a good player in the making with Holding. One that will, theoretically, be even better in League One.
What Holding has done most of all, in my eyes, is prove that experience is very much overrated. We've had experienced players playing for us all season, and they've earned us literally nothing. I believe it's time Lennon followed his own footsteps, throw caution to the wind and finally give some of the other young players in our ranks a go.
The likes of Jamie Thomas, Alex Samidazeh, Kaiyne Woolery, Quade Taylor, Alex Finney and any others who are looking promising and deserving of a go. We play Eastleigh on Saturday, what better opportunity to get these youngsters into the first team and see if they do have it in them?
What harm can it possibly do? We literally can't get any fucking worse.