Tom Bevington on the future of a young player who has so far split opinions among the Macron faithful
Over the past few weeks rumours have been floating around that the Wanderers are looking to cash in on Rob Hall. He was signed by Dougie Freedman for an initial fee of £450,000 plus add ons. We`ll owe another £250,000 if we go up this season with Hall in our ranks, though I don`t think any fans will moan if that happens. He hasn`t lived up to expectation, but there`s plenty of time yet.
In his first season Hall made 24 appearances netting twice, including on his debut against Shrewsbury Town. Last season Hall only featured 9 times before being sent out on loan to League One side MK Dons. At Stadium MK he scored 3 goals in 7 starts, all 3 coming in a 6-1 rout against Leyton Orient.
Wanderers should not give up on Hall, who is still only 21 years old. Unless the club can make a sizeable profit on him – and they won`t especially given that 20% of any profit will go to West Ham United, then there`s no point getting rid. Even if
that were to happen I`d still be reluctant to sell.
We`re also short on numbers, particularly in Hall`s position out wide, with his pace, potential and dribbling skills, I can`t see us being able to afford anyone better.
Neil Lennon has said all players contracted to the club will be given a chance to prove themselves and start again once pre-season arrives, I hope this applies to Hall too. The potential Freedman saw in the 19 year old Hall has not simply evaporated, and I back NL to get the best out of him.
Lennon has spoken about having players who care about the club, and who care about winning football matches for the club. Hall is one who might not be so driven to perform for Bolton specifically, hopefully I`m wrong. From the outside looking in, he could do with more desire to play for Bolton, a stronger desire to improve and become an important player for us. He`ll certainly need to do that with only 1 year left on his contract, either to earn a new one with the Whites or another club.
If Lennon does decided to put faith in Hall then it shouldn’t matter if we do still decide to let him leave in the summer of 2016. He`ll only be 22 at that point and so the club will be owed compensation by his new club regardless, another reason why keeping Hall is a gamble worth taking. Dougie said when Hall was signed that he could be a player worth £4 million, and that he`d ‘like to be quoted in the future’ on his prediction that Hall will become a ‘wonderful player for this football club’. Dougie was wrong about many things during his time at Bolton, let`s hope he`s right about this one.
Unfortunately, my view appears to be a minority view amongst fans. Hall`s most memorable moments in a Bolton shirt have not been good ones. He was substituted after 37 minutes against Blackpool on the final day of the 2013 season, but I`d rather not say anymore about the day that slammed the door shut on our playoff dreams, other than to say Hall should not be judged by that day. It`s not his fault the footballing Gods weren`t on our side. Anyway, the more I talk about that, the less I do for Rob Hall`s case. Wouldn’t it be nice at the end of next season, to look back at and thank Neil Lennon for keeping faith in Rob Hall.