Date: 27th November 2008 at 4:29pm
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Bolton fans attending Saturday`s game at Sunderland will have a decision to make. If El Hadji Diouf gets off the subs bench, do they cheer him, boo him or ignore the beast.

It`s not straightforward. He tended to be booed when still at the Reebok, but in an ironic way, designed to mock supporters of other clubs. Signalling that the antipathy is now genuine could prove tricky.

Diouf spent four, mainly successful, seasons at Bolton and was a key part of the team that qualified for Europe. At his best he was virtually unplayable, operating on either flank or deeper in midfield and his first touch was second to none. Had he been able to reproduce that form on a more consistent basis the Senegal international would have been a target for a more prestigious club than either Sunderland or Bolton.

He was undoubtedly, Sam Allardyce`s man, claiming that the former Bolton boss was like a father to him. Once Big Sam had moved on, then it was inevitable that Diouf would too. There were question marks last season about his fitness and commitment, although he did open the scoring against Saturday`s opponents, more or less guaranteeing Bolton`s Premier League safety.

If he didn`t get on with Gary Megson, there is no hint of that, in comments made by the Ginger One today. ‘Dioufy didn’t want to stay and there were various reasons why,` he said. ‘However, I really liked the bloke. I miss a lot of the things he brought to Bolton.`

There is plenty to miss. He was always a colourful character, sometimes for the wrong reasons, but those who met him testify to his friendly and generous nature. Unlike some players who think themselves above those without who they`d have to find a proper job, he always had time for the fans.

For that reason, and because he was part of the most successful period of Bolton`s history in fifty years, Diouf should be given a wave and a cheer. Hopefully, those who wear the white shirt on the pitch this weekend will ruin his day.

 

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