Bolton fans are struggling to get their head around how the last eighteen months have gone so horribly wrong for the Lancashire club, following their relegation from the Premier League in 2012.
To recap, Bolton’s first season in the Championship began and generally ended very well despite missing out by a single league position on the play-offs, ending the season in seventh place. It was a solid side that had premier league quality throughout. Even now, on paper, you’d think the Trotters were a side who should be pushing for a top six spot. Appearances can be deceiving though and Bolton find themselves in all sorts of trouble both on and off the pitch, like so many other sides these days, sadly.
After Blackpool claimed all three points in their game against Cardiff on Friday, Bolton needed to get something from their home game against Bournemouth or risk falling behind the other teams hovering in the relegation zone. However, a brace from Callum Wilson secured an impressively attacking Cherries side victory, which now means the Wanderers sit rock bottom, with Blackpool and Fulham joining them in the relegation zone.
This is a new low for Wanderers, who for so long were used to being a solid Premier League team, but now look odds-on favourite to face relegation to League One. A few supporters held banners outside the ground in protested on Saturday afternoon, demanding that chairman Phil Gartside gets out of the club, similarly to their Lancashire Rivals, Blackpool, though perhaps not quite to that extent just yet.
To add more uncertainty to the club, Dougie Freedman resigned from his managerial position on Friday – perhaps a welcome relief for a fair percentage of fans but it adds further instability to the club and now the hunt for a new manager will begin. After Bolton’s defeat, temporary boss Andy Hughes was eager to seek out the positives from his side’s performance.
He complimented the team, telling Bolton’s official website ,”It wasn’t the result we would have wanted but I got everything else I wanted from the game. Energy, endeavour, honesty, leadership from the senior players and, the biggest one for me, the fans getting behind the team.”
Concerning off the field issues, Bolton were reported to be £163 million in debt as of December 2013; the latest figure is yet to be confirmed. Promotion to the Premier League would go a long way to paying off those debts, but the longer the club remains in the Championship, the more anxious every one at the club wil begin to get. If the unthinkable were to happen and the Trotters were relegated to League One, the debt would continue to grow and many of the club’s players would likely need to be sold in order to pay off, at least part of, the debt. In the end, money has a knock-on effect with everything at a club, something very wrong in football as a whole.
Not all doom and gloom
The team is still a solid Championship. It is not 100% pitch black at the Macron just yet and there are certainly foundations to be built upon. However, with the patience of the fans wearing thin and the reduced attendance as a consequence, whoever takes the reigns will have one big rebuilding job to do to restore order at the club.
If you were to ask a Bolton fan what the main objective is for this season, you would expect it to be avoiding the drop – for a club as big as Bolton, it just shows how low the club has fallen. Promotion back to the Premier League seems like a distant aspiration right now.