Position: Left-back / Left-wing
Club: Banik Ostrava
D.O.B: 18 August 1995
Why he’s here
To put it simply, Daniel Holzer broke out in the latter half 2013. He ended the 2012-13 season with a seven-minute cameo against Jablonec and then began the following campaign as the first choice on the left of an attacking midfield three. A brilliant run of games in September saw him notch up assist after assist and by Christmas, he was easily the player to keep an eye on.
2014 was there for the taking.
The past year has been…
As we know football is a cruel/weird/strange/harsh (delete as appropriate) mistress and by the time football in the Czech Republic resumed in 2014 all of his brilliant form in 2013 had been forgotten, as if it had been thrown out with the Christmas tree and all the leftover wrapping paper. Holzer was relegated to the role of a bit-part player and would only make seven appearances – the majority of those as a substitute – during the rest of the season.
But it must be remembered that the Banik Ostrava of this generation exists in a sphere where results count for everything and performances very little. In a dire financial predicament, the long-standing Silesian club are solely concerned about keeping their heads above water on and off the pitch. On the pitch they were poor: Frantisek Komnacky was drafted in to help keep them and was then fired when relegation looked a very real proposition. The veteran manager was then replaced with the trio of Radek Sloncik, Martin Svedik and Tomas Bernady and with the team locked in a battle to avoid the drop, the old adage of ‘if you’re good enough, you’re old enough’ was partly thrown out of the window. In the left-winger’s case there were other battle-hardened (some might say battle-weary) options available and he sat out.
On the international front, crucially, it was a different matter. Holzer was Pavel Hoftych’s first choice on the left of midfield and he played six times for his country’s u19 side during this period. He scored twice too; once against Georgia in a friendly and then again against Italy in a European qualifier. Proof, if needed, that there was something flickering away that needed unleashing.
By the time this season rolled around Holzer was back in the first-team. Bar a brief blip in September he has been ever present in a team that is overachieving. Somehow (and nobody is quite sure how) Banik, despite teetering on the edge of collapse, sits fifth. The glory days are by no means back at Bazaly, but there’s a glimmer of hope that can be seen on the terraces once more. Holzer has been instrumental in their revival and his performances have seen him graduate to the Czech under 21s, just in time to make an impact this summer. For the second successive autumn, he has made the left flank his own.
Expect now – at club level at least – he is deployed on the left-hand side of the league’s youngest and most promising defence* and he has looked like he’s been playing there for years.
That attacking edge remains, though, and for our liking, it should be unleashed a little more often. Just once this season has Holzer started a game on the wing and he duly responded by scoring twice in a 2-1 victory over Hradec Kralove. Both finishes were near identical – one touch to control, a second a thump the ball past the goalkeeper – and showed a ruthless streak that cannot be nurtured. His double salvo also fired the teenager to the top of Banik’s scoring charts.
To say that goals have been extremely hard to come by for Ostrava is an understatement. But whilst they’re woeful at one end they’ve been superb at the other, and Holzer has been a part of that defensive solidity. Athletic and capable of matching any opposing winger on pace and skill, the converted full-back has kept some of the best quiet and has shown a knack for some of the grittier aspects of the game along the way too. The switch from offensive starlet to defensive gem started off as a strange experiment but on the basis of nearly 1,200 Synot Liga minutes it is one that is working. Like with all youngsters there are flaws to his game but some of these can be ironed out with time and experience. It’s crucial to remember he’s only been a full-back for the past few months, but some creases do come with being raised a winger and that’s a slight worry.
Tellingly it seems that Jakub Dovalil sees Holzer as an attacking threat rather than a defensive lynchpin. Called up to the Czech under 21s for the fixtures against Germany and Denmark in Prague, the Banik defender(?) was deployed once again on the wing and didn’t disappoint. With Matej Hybs first choice at left-back and Matej Hanousek also in contention for that position, the decision to push Holzer further forward was an obvious decision and it is likely that’s where his immediate future is on the international front.
Banik has already begun to cash cheques and there is a strong possibility that Daniel Holzer will be joining Jan Gregus and Jan Baranek in exiting the Bazaly this winter. Previously he has been linked – with varying degrees of credibility – with Legia Warsaw, Lech Poznan, Wisla Krakow and Viktoria Plzen, but recent reports tie him to Sparta Prague. That rumour may well have legs, but it would be a move wrought with danger as he’d have to displace either Costa Nhamoniesu or Ladislav Krejci, which won’t be done overnight.
A transfer is likely this year, but it has to be to the right club and – importantly – for the right reasons.
As noted earlier, there is a chance that we could be seeing Holzer represent his country on home soil in the u21 Championships, but it may well be from the bench depending on which full internationals are allowed to ‘drop’ down back to youth level.
That shouldn’t be seen as a slight on his ability at all. He’s good.
*Banik’s autumnal back four of Michal Frydrch, Patrizio Stronati, Jan Baranek, Daniel Holzer and goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka had an average age of just 21. (Ed. It’s a shame the group has been broken up as it would have been brilliant to see them grow up together, but money talks in football.)
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 1st January 2015