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Feature: Holman promises more wholehearted performances

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Feature: Holman promises more wholehearted performances

By Rob Bishop

He didn't even hear the announcement which proclaimed he had been voted man of the match.

Despite having run himself almost to a standstill before making way for Charles N'Zogbia in the 79th minute, Brett Holman was still engrossed in the closing stages of the game against Swansea City as he watched anxiously from the dug-out.

"It was still 1-0 and it was pretty nerve-racking because I was concerned that we didn't concede a goal," says the 28-year-old Australian.

"So when it was announced that I was man of the match I wasn't listening. Then Stevie Ireland tapped me on the leg and said 'well done'.

"I would be lying if I said it wasn't a good feeling to think you've had a good game and that other people think the same. Job done.

"Working hard on the pitch is something I've done for as long as I can remember. That's the way I am.

"I don't want to come in after a game and be thinking that if I'd done more, maybe we would have got more out of the game. My attitude is not to have any regrets."

Villa certainly don't have any regrets about signing a player for whom personal accolades come a poor second to success for his team.

The perpetual motion midfielder savoured the rousing reception he was given when was substituted but for the remainder of the game his only concern was that Villa should not allow their advantage to evaporate.

Christian Benteke's late goal put his mind at rest.

"It was a great feeling to be man of the match," he admits.

"But the big thing for me was the relief of getting a win. I've come from a team in Holland where winning was a constant thing. That's what I want here.

"The finest thing in football is to win games and it creates a great atmosphere in the dressing room.

"You always want to perform and do well but the first thing was to get three points.

"The collective team performance matters more than anything.

"If someone else had got the man of the match award it wouldn't have bothered me."

Holman, who arrived from AZ Alkmaar this summer after signing a pre-contract agreement im March, has quickly won the hearts of the claret and blue faithful with his work ethic.

Such is his intense energy level that some supporters have even commented that it's like having two players.

Holman's game is not merely about graft, though.

He also proved during the Swansea game that he can also provide guile when he was close to opening his Villa account with a delicate lob which was just too high from the edge of the penalty area.

"Everybody said 'Why didn't you have whack?' But with my left leg not being so strong I decided I may as well just chip it and see what happened. It didn't come off, but I gave it a go."

Having been on target in a couple of pre-season games, Holman is looking forward to his first competitive goal for Villa, although he looks genuinely surprised when I mention that he has scored more than 80 throughout the course of his professional career, including a combined 76 for Dutch clubs Excelsior, NEC Nijmegen and Alkmaar.

"You probably know more than me," he offers. "I'm not a player who keeps stats in my head. I do my work and create chances for other players. That's my type of game.

"But I also try to pitch in with a goal here and there. I scored two in pre-season and hopefully there are a few more to come.

"I want to get off my 'duck' but I'm not consciously thinking about it.

"The game plan for the whole 90 minutes is about a lot more than thinking 'I've got to score, I've got score...'

"You don't want to be worrying about that and nothing else because your whole game will fall to pieces. It's not something I focus on."

As far as his skill element is concerned, he acknowledges that a decade in the Netherlands has helped him enormously.

"The focus there is on the technical side of the game and I learned a lot.

"You pick things up. I played under some good managers - people like Van Gaal, Dick Advocaat and Ronald Koeman - and you learn from that."

Now, of course, he is working with another highly-respected manager in Paul Lambert and has clearly impressed the new boss. Holman was very much the odd man out among this summer's batch of new signings because he was the only one not signed by the former Norwich City boss.

Yet a potentially awkward situation couldn't have worked out any better.

"It felt good when my wife and I walked into the club. Straight away there was a feeling that this is a nice place - the first impression we got was that Villa are a warm club.

"It could have gone pear-shaped for me when there was a change of manager, but I had a decent chat with the boss early on.

"He said 'I don't really know what kind of player you are. You've got a pre-season to show what you can do.' I told myself to have a good crack at it and show why I'm here. Hopefully I've done that.

"Now I have to keep my head down and keep working hard and keep showing why I was signed. I've played a few games but I know I have to keep proving that I deserve to be in the first XI every week. I will do everything in my power to do that."

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By @AVFCOfficial 2nd October 2012
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