Date: 2nd April 2009 at 12:43pm
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Things are looking grim at Southampton Football Club. They lie three points adrift of safety, second bottom of the Championship and face a possible ten point deduction, if the parent company, Southampton Leisure Holdings plc, goes into administration, which is more than a possibility.

What`s this all got to do with Bolton Wanderers? Have a look at the post below, made on SaintsForever.Com at the start of 2003.

`Rupert Lowe and Gordon Strachan are showing how progress IS possible within a sensible budget. Some Saints’ fans doubted the wisdom of their combined approach when first brought together, and they were well within their rights to do so, but in the current climate of diminishing finances across the game as a whole, I don’t think any right-minded football fan, let alone a Saints’ fan, can deny that Saints are currently one of the most well prepared clubs in the country for the next decade of football.`

At the time, such optimism didn`t seem misplaced. Southampton went on to finish 8th in the Premier League and gave Arsenal a run for their money in the FA Cup final.

Then Gordon Strachan left, and a succession of short term managerial appointments were made (including Steve Wigley, now a coach at Bolton.) The Saints were relegated and haven`t looked forward since. Last season they escaped relegation to League One on the last day of the season.

The mood amongst many Wanderers fans at present is gloomy, even disinterested. With the dreary football on show, that`s not surprising. The feeling (backed up by statistics) is that Bolton under Gary Megson, will hover forever, just above the relegation zone, doing just enough to avoid exiting the top flight. There will be no cup runs, European qualifications or victories over the big boys. In short, nothing to get excited about.

It`s not an enticing prospect, which is why, presumably, some supporters feel that dropping into the Championship would be no bad thing. The reasoning goes that the following year`s promotion battle would at last breathe some life into proceedings.

Of course that might happen. Birmingham and Reading have been relegated without imploding and are amongst the front runners to return to the Premier League. Yet Bolton have more in common with Leicester and Charlton, both clubs who suffered when long serving or influential managers left. Leicester dipped into the third flight of football, last season and Charlton look bound to do the same this time round and like Southampton, have severe financial problems.

Relegation, if and when it happens, will be a different experience then before. The Wanderers had previously been mere interlopers in the top flight, stopping for a season or two. Now there have been eight consecutive years in the Premier League. The world outside that division is a very different place than it was the last time Bolton were there.

Clearly things need to improve. The dispiriting brand of slow-motion football on show at the Reebok, can only appeal to the most ardent of fans, who care only about the result and not how it is achieved.

Watching a one-dimensional team with zero creativity whose sole attacking ploy is to boot the ball into the opposition penalty area and hope that someone on the other team makes a mistake, is deadly dull. Bolton`s passing, movement and ability to retain possession is far below that which would be expected from a Premiership side.

But those problems need to be remedied within the confines of the top division. Dropping into the Championship can only be a backward step.

 

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