Date: 28th February 2016 at 9:44pm
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If this isn’t a bit weird – my second (and last) farewell article on this site. It has been a pleasure.

I took over from Mr Ecky as editor during the summer of 2014 which means I’ve been here for about a year and a half. How times have changed.

We had finished 14th in the Championship. It was disappointing after almost making the playoffs during the prior season. However, I was quite optimistic. We’d brought in the likes of Joe Mason, Kevin McNaughton, Neil Danns and Liam Feeney following successful loan spells, while new summer signing Dorian Dervite came highly rated from Charlton.

I repeat, ‘how things have changed’. People (myself included) were genuinely excited about us signing Feeney and Dervite (more on the former later). A quick Twitter search would should you just how much hatred there is directed towards them from the Wanderers faithful.

Mason and McNaughton featured, and did reasonably well all things considered, under then manager, Dougie Freedman (remember him?) but quickly found themselves slip down the pecking order under new manager Neil Lennon.

You see, under Dougie Freedman we were last. Last in the Championship. Below the likes of Rotherham and Wigan. ‘Twasn’t nice. He started doing weird things like playing Jay Spearing and Medo Kamara together, and Tim Ream (a left footed centre back) at right back. Unsurprisingly it didn’t work.

Our strike force never really came together. The partnership of Craig Davies and Joe Mason showed promise, however the Welshman Davies found himself too often injured and Mason struggled when played up front.

Under Freedman, young players were not given a chance though he did sign Max Clayton from Crewe shortly before his departure. That was good.

I’m gonna be a bit controversial here. Some say that Neil Lennon came in and turned everything on its head which got us results. No, he just kept it simple at first. We started winning games under him when he did play the likes of Jay Spearing and Kevin McNaughton in his opening matches. It was working. However, he started introducing young players like Josh Vela, like Max Clayton and that brought later success.

However, one of the biggest achievements of the Neil Lennon era, for me, has to be the revival of Chung Yong Lee. He re-invented the South Korean and found a system that showcased his technical superiority and it was beautiful.

Lennon brought us happy times for the first time in ages for Bolton and for that I am thankful. Give him backing and a decent Championship squad and he`ll do well. I still maintain that.

In recent times he has lost a lot of respect. From his own off-field incidents to his own tactical choices. Managers often feel that they have to make weird decisions when ‘normal` decisions don`t produce results. However, that does not mean that we park the bus when we`re losing. Or put Neil Danns at right back.

It`s at this point that I`d like to talk Liam Feeney. Yesterday he had one of his best ever games for Bolton and many have already had their say on other fansites. I`ll just say that he is not our problem. He works very hard going forward and he`ll always put up a fight. There are people who say that he doesn`t track back enough: it`s not something that I`ve really noticed but it may well be true. No his deliveries aren`t perfect 100% of the time. However, he is a Championship relegation scrapper. That`s the kind of player he is for me. No, it`s not glamorous and was probably not the right player for us at the time of signing him. We all cry for Wellington Silva and that`s because we`d probably prefer someone to mess up trying to do too much than mess up trying to play a simple cross but just not having the aptitude to do so. When Liam Feeney is at his best, he does the simple things right – takes the ball to the by-line and puts sticks it into the box. This is what made people take to him during his four game loan stint two seasons ago. We had the likes of Chris Eagles playing with their hair, shooting for 75 yards and Andre Moritz trying rabonas and flick flacks all over the park. We were at the bottom of the league then. A year on, we were at the bottom the league again and Freedman left. 18 months after that, we are where we are now. At the bottom of the league. Liam Feeney will be key for us if we are to stay up.

My last few months at Vital Bolton have been rather strange. It`s been difficult to report on things when, in reality, we know very little. Most people know very little. It can be argued that the people running the club in recent times, too, knew little as costs have spiralled out of control and landed us where we are now. As things stand, Dean Holdsworth is finalising his takeover but some have reported that things have ‘hit a snag`.

I really just don`t know anymore. It`s hard to trust anything with regards to all this.

I wrote last week that the most important thing after all of the court ordeal was that we still have a club to support. We still have Bolton Wanderers. We still have games to go to on Saturday afternoons and provided that everything works out, there will still be good times to come.

The reality that we find ourselves in is that we most probably will go down. It will be a case of re-inventing our team. Our wage bill is still stupidly big. The likes of Rob Holding, Tom Walker, Max Clayton, Oscar Threlkeld and of course Zach and Josh (if we can keep them) will be crucial to our success next year. Whoever our manager is has to do everything he can to keep this as the core of our squad. Many a senior player will have to leave. We`ll have to try to build up a base of bosmans (of which there are a good number of solid League 1 players every year) and maybe bring in some loans from the Premier League. An immediate return to the Championship is not out of reach.

However, things change quickly in football, and at Bolton Wanderers they change even more quickly.

Many have often called me too optimistic on this site. Well I`ll have you know that among my family I`m considered quite the pessimist! I`ll quote one anonymous family member who said that ‘Neil Lennon will be Arsenal manager when Wenger retires` after his first few good matches at Bolton. He also said ‘Andy Lonergan will be playing in the Premier League come January` (6 months later he was released by Bolton who chose to keep Ben Amos instead).

Commenters have come and gone during my time here, and I hope some of you are still there! It`s always been fascinating to read the thoughts of others – I remember many lived all over the world. Thank you for your continued readership. It`s been a pleasure to write for you once again. I`ve been an avid reader of the site ever since the Quentin X days, and very much enjoyed reading the works of AlParklar and subsequently, Mr Ecky. If I have done anywhere near as good a job as them then I`m a very proud man.

I hand you over to Anthony Hart, who succeeds me as editor. He`s been writing the satirical ‘Anthony Hart View` column every week and joined us in the summer. In his capable hands I look forward to seeing the site move on to great things.

I do hope to keep in touch with the site in the comments, and maybe one day I may pop up with a guest article but until then, it`s goodbye from me.

 

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