GARY Holt has left Falkirk without a manager for the second time in just over a year after sealing a return to former club Norwich City yesterday as an assistant to new boss Neil Adams.
Holt joined Falkirk for his first managerial role just last April following Steven Pressley’s departure for Coventry City and came close to steering the Bairns to promotion back to the Premiership in his first full season in charge.
However, bowing out by landing the Championship manager of the month award for April, the former Kilmarnock midfielder has opted to return to Carrow Road, where he was a player for four years and was assistant academy manager for three years before moving north last year.
Names already being linked with the Falkirk post include sacked Hearts boss Gary Locke, Inverness assistant and former Falkirk fans’ favourite Russell Latapy, Dumbarton manager Ian Murray and Stirling Albion’s Greig McDonald.
The Bairns gave Holt permission to speak to his old club over the weekend and the former Scotland midfielder agreed a deal to return to the freshly relegated Canaries as first-team coach yesterday. The Westfield outfit initially announced Holt’s departure early afternoon in a statement that detailed the “very tight” timescales for applications for the post and the board’s desire to make a new appointment in time for the start of pre-season training on June 26.
The communication also quoted chairman Martin Ritchie as saying: “The club fully understands Gary’s wishes to return with his family to Norwich.
“We would like to wish him every success in the future and to thank him for all his work at Falkirk over the last year.”
They then retracted that statement following an apparent difference of opinion internally over its timing, and issued an “apology” as they awaited a “formal agreement”, which duly came shortly after 5pm when they re-posted the bulletins on their website.
Holt took over a youthful squad from Pressley and enjoyed a fruitful season last term. The Bairns battled it out with Dundee and Hamilton for promotion and at one point topped the Championship table, but eventually lost out to Accies in the play-off semi-final after defeating Queen of the South in the quarter-final.
The ten-times capped internationalist has left Falkirk in good shape for next term, with the likes of David McCracken, Conor McGrandles, Blair Alston, Will Vaulks and Luke Leahy all recently agreeing new deals, but keeper and skipper Michael McGovern has not yet re-signed and improved terms for Rory Loy and Craig Sibbald – who both remain under contract – remain on the table.
The Bairns are now hopeful of making a swift appointment as they try to give their new man time to build for what is expected to be an ultra-competitive campaign in the Championship alongside Scottish giants Rangers, Hearts and Hibs.
Norwich confirmed the appointment of Holt, who will join Mark Robson as first-team coach, with the experienced Joe Royle also acting as football consultant.
Adams said: “Mark and Gary are two people I’ve worked with closely and both will bring enthusiasm, hunger and experience to the coaching team. They have also played at the highest levels in this country.”