Tom Jenkins looks at Neil Lennon’s wasted summer of poor signings…
As I write this article, the transfer window has yet to shut, thus, my point could have strengthened or been made redundant. Either way, the fact stands: Lennon`s signings this summer haven`t exactly worked out. This deadline day has seen two of them (Prince and Pisano) leave the club while earlier in the window popular figure Jose Manuel Casado also parted from the club. During the ‘Deadline Day Special` on The Bolton News website the point was made by one fan that Lennon brought in 5 defenders this summer yet none of them make our starting squad and the res have left. What a waste of time?
First we examine the two who left yesterday, Prince and Pisano. I loved Prince at first and, I must admit, even when he was gifting goals I remained a loyal supporter of the pacy Frenchman. I was present for his debut at Derby (doesn`t that great performance feel ages ago now) and he was superb. Clearly he was a bit cavalier but if you have his pace you can afford to be. He also made the much-maligned Dorian Dervite less of a liability, a fact that made him a genius despite any criticisms levelled at him. It went gradually downhill due to his error-prone nature. Uncertainty over wages and playing time led to his loan being cancelled. I wish him well and I still believe he will become a good centre-back as he matures.
Pisano was a bit of a strange one. My only frame of reference with him was FIFA 15 where he was one of the fastest right-backs in the Serie A. When I heard he was signing for us I was excited but after 3 mediocre performances he got injured (allegedly) and was never seen again. He could have come good had he been given the opportunity but not according to Mr Lennon. He sat in the reserves collecting a wage from a club that couldn`t afford its regular players let alone liabilities. The pointlessness of his signing has summed up our season.
Jose Manuel Casado was one who divided opinion despite being popular on the terraces due to his high tempo playing style and passion. However, once he was dismissed for a second bookable offence against Cardiff earlier in the season he gave way to the impressive Dean Moxey who, unless he gets injured again, will remain in the left-back spot for the remainder of the season I believe. Thus, from Casado`s point of view, I can see why he would have rather look for regular matches than sit on a bench and not be paid for it. I also wish him luck but again I wonder why we let him go so easily when Lennon wanted options at full-back in the summer. Suddenly we are exposed in that position again!
Finally, we come to the two who remain: Lawrie Wilson and Derik Osede. I liked both of these two to begin with and I still maintain they could do a good job for the Whites. Wilson looked decent before a horror show at the John Smith`s stadium cost him his place and after an exile of about three months he was shipped out to Peterborough. Now he`s back and I think he could be useful. The safe bet is that Neil disagrees, though. Derik is another who promised much yet has been frozen out. Lennon has often criticised his training performances but it can`t be easy to train well when the manager clearly has no faith in you. How do I know this? Dorian Dervite wouldn`t get a look in if the opposite was true. Thus we are stuck with two more players collecting a wage for no purpose. Well played, Neil!
What`s the point of all this? Neil Lennon spoke in the summer of needing to have options in defence, something he lacked last year and he was right to prioritise that area of the team. However, three of those players are gone, two are frozen out and Josh Vela is still playing at right-back! I know the financial circumstances mean we can`t afford to keep everyone but what was the point of spending that money when those who came in aren`t needed anymore. When we look back at the haemorrhaging of money that has taken place at this club, the money wasted on these players will be one of the headlines.