Nicky’s back with his thoughts on this season, our spell in the Championship, and looks ahead
It`s a bit of a weird feeling. We all knew this was coming, and we have known for weeks – months even. Just look back on our season: it`s hard to imagine anything worse.
We`re last in the Championship for a reason: our performances were poor. Poor performances translate into poor results. Poor results mean a poor standing in the league. In 41 games, we`ve won four, conceded 76, and scored just 38 meaning that for every goal we scored, we conceded two.
Our finances have restricted us greatly. However, at the start of the season, with the team we had, many thought we`d be reasonably competitive in the league.
Old Neil certainly seemed to think so. He complained at not being able to build anything, and while we might not have the finances of the likes of table topping Burnley, Middlesborough and Derby County, he was able to sign some players. He threw money at players like Francesco Pisano and Lawrie Wilson. They didn`t play.
Sure, maybe we couldn`t have afforded better. However, he signed two right backs. Neither of them played. Two bad players don`t make a good`un. However, two relatively low wages make a pretty decent Championship standard one. Anyway, I digress – it`s not our right backs (or lack thereof) that have got us relegated.
I mention finances, because that`s what made a very tough season even more intolerable. Eddie Davies pulled the plug and stopped funding a team that had been spending way over its means for years. We invested in players like N`Gog and Sordell to keep us in the Premier League, neither of whom did themselves or Bolton many favours in their disappointing spells. Then, when we dropped to the Championship, we extended expensive Premier League contracts, and signed expensive ‘luxurious` Championship players such as Keith Andrews and Matt Mills.
It still troubles me how a team including Adam Bogdan, Martin Petrov, Kevin Davies, (in-form) Chris Eagles, (in-form) Jay Spearing and Craig Dawson didn`t even make the play-offs. We were 20th come February. That`s ridiculous.
Do you know what else is ridiculous? Dougie Freedman saying that he has no sympathy for Neil Lennon because he went through the same thing at Bolton himself. Did Dougie manage through a period where staff weren`t paid? Did he not pay for Jay Spearing, Rob Hall, Medo Kamara, Craig Davies and Max Clayton and offer hefty wages to the likes of Jermaine Beckford?
I have criticised Neil Lennon a lot, and I still stand by it, but I`ll acknowledge that he had to work in incredibly difficult circumstances. It wasn`t that easy for Dougie, either and he maybe was sold a much more attractive job than what he ended up with, too. However, the only thing that they both went through was managing a team at the bottom of the Championship. Dougie had little excuse.
That`s probably enough negativity for now. Let`s try to be positive. It`s a new era for Bolton. We have new owners and Dean Holdsworth certainly can`t be blamed for not trying. By all accounts he`s working incredibly hard to better the fortunes of our club. Shame the same thing can`t be said about all of our players.
Whether we have enough money to sign the quality of player we need to do well in League One, we`ll have to see. I imagine our team next season will be made up of our own youth, with a few senior players staying on and a some free agents signing too.
We don`t know who our manager will be either? My vote would be for Chris Wilder who, this weekend, has guided Northampton Town to League One. Phil Brown is the favourite, while a decreasing number want Jimmy Phillips to stay on in charge. I like Jimmy, but the results that have come under his spell won`t have helped his cause. However, I wouldn`t blame him all that much; individual performances have been woeful.
During our four seasons in the Championship we`ve had some decent times. We had the Chris Eagles/Craig Dawson period which saw us surge up the league. That was nice. Similarly, other players have come and made their mark on the fans: Lukas Jutkiewicz and Adam Le Fondre spring to mind.
I think the biggest positive we can take from this season is our fans. They`ve been incredible. The commitment everyone has shown through very very tough times has been commendable and we should all be very proud. From the formation of The Supporters` Trust to constant attendance and support on matchdays. It`s been great. People have kept their humour through thick and thin and Tuesday night at Brentford was a real highlight for me with ‘Que sera, sera; whatever will be, will be; we`re going to Shrewsbury` among other very entertaining chants.
Bolton Wanderers lives on. We`ll be in League One next season, and we could face a long spell before we`re back in the Championship. However, there will still be good times to come and we can look forward to them, and cherish memories of other good times in the past.
Until then, we have five more games left in this horrible division. Isn`t it great that we`re leaving it?