‘He’s got a big future at Ipswich... but I want more from him’ - Walker on Town keeper Holy’s progress
- Credit: Archant
Goalkeeping coach Jimmy Walker believes ‘there’s no limit’ to what Tomas Holy can achieve between the Ipswich Town sticks.
The Blues signed the giant Czech stopper last summer following his departure from Gillingham and, while Town liked what they saw during the recruitment process, they knew they weren’t acquiring the finished article and saw areas where the 28-year-old needed to improve.
He made 25 appearances in his debut Town season, as he battled for the starting job with Will Norris, quickly becoming a fans’ favourite due to impressive early displays and his infectious personality.
It remains to be seen whether he will be the club’s undisputed No.1 next season or whether he will again face senior competition, but Walker has been impressed with the progress Holy has made and believes he has a big future at Portman Road.
“He’s been outstanding,” Walker said of Holy, who last week had his Town contract extended until the summer of 2022.
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“I’ve told him, if he can get it right there’s no limit to how far he can go. He showed in the first two or three months of this season that he can be a central player in the success we want to achieve at the club. He wants to be a part of that.
“For the age and the level he’s got to, he’s never really had a full-time coach, so for him to come in and trust in what I’m saying is great.
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“He’s a giant goalkeeper, his hands are excellent and his feet are great. He’s actually a really good passer of the ball with his feet and is nice and calm, so he really does have all the attributes and I’m just trying to piece them together.
“If he can do that there’s no limit to what he can achieve here.”
The big challenge now for Holy is to ensure the improvements he makes on the training field translate into games.
“He really studies the game and is quite a deep thinker,” Walker said. “He thinks he struggles to get his point across but his English is actually excellent.
“He doesn’t just accept what I say and he’s always asking ‘why?’ which I think is brilliant. I’m big on small details like foot placements and things like that so if he can get that right and find a good balance then he can cover everything. There’s no limit to where he can go.
“He’s really good with his feet but he’s just relied on his size for a lot of his life. He’ll ask why, I’ll show him and then we study the video because we like to film training a lot. We can replicate things in sessions and then take it into the games.
“He’s definitely getting there and, for such a big fella, his movement is excellent. He wasn’t always putting himself in the right shape or area and, as silly as it sounds, he’d just fall towards the ball if it was a shot. Some he’d save, some he wouldn’t. But we have got him bending a knee in towards the ball and driving to it – his coverage now is excellent.
“Some of the saves he makes in training are superb, incredible. He’s done it in games, too, although I still want more from him in games next season.”
While the work Walker does with his goalkeepers on the training ground is vital for their development, knowing what makes his players tick is just as important.
“A big part of a goalkeeping coach’s role is getting into their heads and knowing what makes them tick,” Walker said. “Tomas knows that when he’s on it and bouncing like he does he can pull the whole team along with him so we’re trying to work on that as well.
“He’s an infectious character and, because of that, it rubs off on you.
“I think he’s got a big future ahead of him at Ipswich and I’m excited to see how far we can go together.
“The fans love him, which helps. The level he was at in the first three or four months was really up there. He has to get to that level and stay there.
“He’s very hard on himself and you can see him in games berating himself. You have to say to him ‘relax, you can’t do anything about it now and if your mind is elsewhere it’s going to hit the next thing you do’. We’ll talk about it after the game and then work on it, but for that moment it’s gone.
“As a goalkeeper and a footballer in general you have to live in the moment. You can work on stuff to try and improve but that obviously comes after games.
“But he has a great attitude, wants to learn and wants to improve so there are plenty of ingredients there for him to be a top goalkeeper at this club for many years.”