Coyle counts the cost of poor investments
May 14, 2012 in Premier League
I really did feel sorry for Bolton yesterday. It is never nice to see a team get relegated, but to see a team go down as a result of a shocking refereeing decision must be heartbreaking for the Wanderers fans. A season in the Championship awaits in August, but where did it all go wrong for the Trotters? They were a solid mid-table side a few seasons ago, even playing in Europe. So what happened?
Well, firstly, they have never been able to replace the players that they had during their mid-table days. Nicolas Anelka, Matthew Taylor, Kevin Nolan, Gary Cahill, Tal Ben-Haim, Ivan Campo and Stelios (not the Easy Jet one); they were all vital players over the years. Jussi Jaaskelainen was also one of the best keepers in the League at this point. Look at who they had in comparison this season.
David Ngog is surely a contender for worst signing of the season. The Frenchman has scored just four goals in thirty nine games this season. To put that into context, that is seven less than Johan Elmander got last season and four less than Daniel Sturridge, despite the Chelsea striker playing just twelve games in his loan spell last year. In Kevin Nolan’s spot, they have Darren Pratley and Nigel Reo-Coker. Both have been poor this season; in fact, Reo-Coker should change his name to Medi-Ocre. Zat Knight is a footballing miracle. How he has managed to stay in the Premier League for so long is something scientists should be studying, because he is about as solid as a wet paper bag. Adam Bogdan has certainly shown that Hungary cannot produce good keepers. He is only young, but has made a number of errors this season. You get my point – they have not replaced the old guard that did so well in previous seasons.
Owen Coyle has lamented his side’s bad luck this season and he does have a point. They lost their best players in Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-Yong for the entire season. Holden’s creativity in the middle was sorely missed, as was Lee’s on the right wing. I think they would have been safe if they had played a part in the season. They also had to deal with Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest, which was a hugely difficult time for the club.
They were very unlucky with the decision to allow Jonathan Walters’ first goal to stand against Stoke yesterday too. It was clearly a foul on Bogdan, and how Chris Foy didn’t see that is a mystery. But luck swings both ways and it swung in their favour in March. They took three points from QPR at home despite Clint Hill’s header clearly crossing the line. If that would have counted, they would have been relegated before Sunday.
The fact is though that Bolton have been on a steady decline since they lost 5-0 to Stoke in the FA Cup Semi-Final 18 months ago. They only won four times at the Reebok stadium this season, a ground that was once considered a fortress. Only Wolves have a worse home record.
Ultimately, while it is sad to see an established Premier League team relegated, the league doesn’t lie, and sadly, Bolton deserved to go down. Owen Coyle has a massive rebuilding job to do in the Championship if he wants his team to bounce straight back. With the likes of Martin Petrov, Chris Eagles, Kevin Davies, Stuart Holden, Lee Chung-Yong, Mark Davies and Ivan Klasnic all set to leave, it will be a big test for the Scottish manager. Can he do it? Time will tell.