The forward line. Could they have done more? Well, yeah.
The forward line. The part of the team that are supposed to win you the games. With forty six goals, Bolton came twelfth in the goalscoring league, bettered only by Norwich and Blackburn in the bottom half of the table. However, that figure does not show the lack of goals scored by the three main strikers at the club. Between them, Ivan Klasnic, Kevin Davies and David N`Gog scored just seventeen of them. It is unfair to say that they didn`t do a job, both N`Gog and, towards the end of the season at least, SKD did part of what was asked of them, hold the ball up or lay it off for other players. But the role of the strikers is to put the ball in the net and seventeen goals between your three main forwards is a paltry total and one of the reasons why we have ended up where we have. Hopefully, with a good crop of youngsters standing by and an old head signing a new contract, that won`t be a problem next season.
Played 16 Scored 0 Yellows 0 Reds 0
When the Turkish striker became available, Owen Coyle said that he couldn`t believe that he was able to get hold of the player. By the end of the season, rumours were that Tuncay had moped off back to Germany due to lack of playing time and, to be fair to the player, he wasn`t given the time that his reputation deserves. Played mostly out of position and usually coming off the bench, his one goal came early in the season against Macclesfield in the League Cup and by the time the season ended he couldn`t even get a place on the bench. A notoriously frustrating character, in the time that he did get he appeared to run around a lot to little effect (see also Darren Pratley) but it is also frustrating, to this fan at least, that he was hardly ever employed in the strikers role. At the end of it, a strange signing and probably the waste of a loan.
On loan and returned to Germany. Won`t be seen again.
14. Kevin Davies
Played 31 Goals 6 Yellow Cards 3 Red Cards 0
Never a prolific goalscorer at the height of his career, the captain spent a great deal of time on the bench as the manager sought to try a different kind of football. When he did play, he appeared to be out of sorts, losing out to players that just twelve months before, he had bullied enough to get a call up to the England squad. His legs appeared to have gone, not getting enough purchase off the ground to jump high enough, and he cut a frustrated figure. Even his ability to hold up the ball had deserted him. Never the most elegant of players, he has also never had a good first touch and it appeared that his career at the club was coming to and end. And, if we had stayed up, there is every possibility that it would have. However, by the end of the season he had found some of the old Kevin Davies spirit. The one statistic that surprises is his three yellow cards. Only three, SKD? What`s the matter with you? We expect more next season.
Out of contract but has signed a new one year deal to take his time at Bolton to ten years and one of the more deserved testimonials will surely follow.
17. Ivan Klasnic
Played 29 Scored 8 Yellows 3 Reds 1
An eye for a goal is one thing, and Ivan has an eye for a goal, but in a team like Bolton you need to do more for that and Ivan “I ain`t running for that” Klasnic did little more than score. This is part of the reason why, out of the more than ninety games he played for the club over his three year spell, more than half of them came from the bench as both Megson and then Coyle looked to harder working players before calling for Klasnic to save the game, which he did on more than one occasion, the most notable this season being his late goal against QPR. It is also fair to say that he cost us points, his red card against Norwich early on in the season for headbutting (or waving his forehead near another player as it so patently was) meant that we had little chance of getting back into the game. Some commentators, notably Paul Merson, could never understand why the clubs leading scorer wasn`t getting more starts. Bolton fans know why.
Out of contract and released. Good luck to him. With Sheffield Wednesday apparently sniffing around, he may just come back to haunt us.
20. Robbie Blake
Played 1 Scored 0 Yellows 0 Reds 0
The question as to why Robbie Blake was offered a new contract last summer can only be answered by the manager, but it must have had something to do with his “infectious” personality. Over the hill when he signed for us, his one notable moment for the club came against Birmingham last season with his exquisite free kick. But that is all. Once had had played early on in the season he was never seen again, not even in the FA cup games. Logic states that he should have been released last season but the manager`s apparent need to have a personality like Blake in the dressing room appeared to beat logic. All in all, a very strange decision.
Out of contract and released to a care home.
24. David N`Gog
Played 33 Scored 3 Yellows 2 Reds 0
Anyone who had taken even a cursory glance at N`Gog`s career goals at Liverpool would have told you that, if you want someone to score more than ten a season, chances are it wouldn`t be the Frenchman. Good at holding the ball up and bringing other players into the game, he wasn`t bought for that job and, at £4million, is an expensive punt and a gamble that didn`t pay off. Like the man he replaced, Johan Elmander, he was very much the square peg in the round hole, although he wasn`t helped much by a midfield shorn of the creativity of Holden and Lee. It will be interesting to see how he plays with them next season but he will need to hit double figures if he is not to be considered an expensive failure.
In contract and, unless someone has an attack of the reckless spends, staying.
29. Marvin Sordell
Played 3 Scored 0 Yellows 0 Reds 0
Riddle me this, Batman. You pay £3million (at the lowest guess) for a young Championship player who had hit double figures at his former club. And you then resolutely refuse to put him on in any game. One for the future, no doubt, but his stats in the lower division suggest that he has an idea for where the goal is and should have been given the chance to show that rather than be given cameo performances and a last ditch substitution in the final game. However, he is only 21 and as a foil for either N`Gog or SKD certainly someone who should be given every opportunity to shine next season. Like I said, one for the future but someone who should have been used more in the present.
In contract and, for fear of repeating myself, one for the future.
And that rounds up the players. The striker of the year, just for goals scored rather than anything else, is Ivan Klasnic. Next, we turn our attention to the architect of our doom, Owen Columba Coyle