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Bolton Wanderers’ Football Implosion

Bolton Wanderers football stadium

On November 25, 2006, Bolton Wanderers hosted Arsenal for an eagerly-anticipated Premier League clash at the Reebok Stadium.

Arsene Wenger’s men had recently played in the Champions League final, the squad was packed full of Invincibles and they were among the favourites to win the title. However, they were no match for a Bolton team led by the formidable talents of Nicolas Anelka and El Hadji Diouf.

Abdoulaye Faye headed the hosts ahead and Anelka then banged in a 25-yard screamer against his former club. Gilberto Silva pulled one back for the Gunners, but Anelka finished them off with a clinical strike. It was the height of Bolton’s pomp under Sam Allardyce. The finished seventh and qualified for Europe that season. The fans were used to seeing supreme talents like Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff strut their stuff at the Reebok, and the future looked bright for the club.

Fast forward to 2020 and the situation looks decidedly bleak. On Saturday, the visitors to Bolton were Accrington Stanley and they battled to a 0-0 draw in a thoroughly drab affair. It was a result that left Bolton marooned at the bottom of
League One, 21 points below safety. They are doomed to be relegated to the fourth tier of English football, and fans are simply left with memories of better times.

What Went Wrong for Bolton?

Bolton are one of the founding members of the Football League, they are four-time FA Cup winners and they reached the last 16 of the UEFA Cup just 12 years ago. How are they so close to oblivion? Their troubles began when they were relegated from the Premier League in 2012. Sam Allardyce had abandoned ship by that point, and Owen Coyle was the man tasked with keeping them in the top flight.

They still had some talented players, including Gary Cahill, Ivan Klasnic and the long-serving Kevin Davies, but they finished 18th  – a point behind relegation rivals QPR – after winning just one of their final eight games. Any hopes of yo-yoing back to the top flight were crushed when they finished outside the playoff places in the Championship the following term.

They were still paying the sort of exorbitant wages of a Premier League team, but the revenue dried up. That plunged them into chaos. A number of poor signings and a confused strategy under chairman Phil Gartside led to a deterioration in results. By 2014, they had strayed dangerously close to being financially shipwrecked.

The following, the club took out a loan with creditor BluMarble Capital to stay afloat, and there was a finding gap. A winding-up order over an unpaid tax bill threatened to torpedo the club, but former Bolton striker Dean Holdsworth led a £7.5 million takeover under the Sports Shield banner.

Financial Woes

That could have provided the springboard for an upturn in fortunes for the club. Former owner Eddie Davies said he did not wish to claim back the money owed to him, and Bolton’s £172.9 million debt was largely written off. However, Bolton finished bottom of the Championship that season and dropped down to League One.

They bounced straight back up to the Championship in 2017, but Sports Shield then had to be liquidated after BluMarble lodged a winding-up petition in relation to non-repayment of a £5 million loan. Inner Circle Investments, owned by Bolton Wanderers chairman Ken Anderson acquired Sports Shield’s former 37.5% shareholding in September 2017.

They managed to scrape survival in the 2017-18 campaign, finishing 21st , but they were then relegated last term after ending up 23rd in the standings. Bolton immediately went into administration.

The start of the 2019-20 campaign was utterly disastrous. They began the season with a 12-point deduction. It was issued as punishment for going into administration, as they owed more than £1 million to HMRC. The summer was taken up by a protracted takeover of the club, as Anderson resisted attempts by Football Ventures to buy it.

The club had to call off their match against Doncaster citing welfare concerns, as they only had five senior outfield players available. Manager Phil Parkinson finally walked away after he was forced to field a youth team in a 5-0 defeat to Ipswich.

Football Ventures finally purchased the club on August 29, 2019, with the Eddie Davis Trust helping facilitate the deal. Former Rochdale manager Keith Hill took over and quickly signed nine players before the transfer window slammed shut. However, it has been a grim old season for the long-suffering Bolton fans.

A Cautionary Tale

They have lost 18 out of 32 games, and they would still be well adrift even if they had not been handed a 12-point penalty. If you check here for the League One odds, you will see that they head into almost every game as underdogs and they are all but certain to be relegated. Bolton have not languished in the fourth tier of English football since the 1987-88 campaign.

Six months ago, they faced extinction. The club was saved, but Bolton fans are likely to experience a lot more pain in the years ahead. Not so long ago, Bolton revelled in their status as the poster-boy team for every smaller club that dreamed of climbing into the top tier – they dazzled, with Okocha and Anelka wreaking havoc on the pitch – but now they serve as a mere cautionary tale about the pitfalls of continually spending beyond your means.

The debt piled up, and Bolton fell into despair on and off the pitch. It will be a long way back from here. They are lucky to have such loyal and passionate fans, whose support could yet drag them back from the abyss, but this proud club needs much tighter financial management in future.

‘Don’t change a winning side’ Bolton Wanderers fans react to their win

Two minutes was all it took for Bolton Wanderers to take the lead over Tranmere Rovers this weekend. The Football Manc Cave takes a look at Bolton fans’ reactions.

It was Bolton’s first game this weekend since the transfer window closed. They faced Tranmere Rovers at home.

With a few players returning to their parent clubs but a few new arrivals coming in, fans didn’t know whether to be excited or worried.

However, two minutes was all it took for Keith Hill’s side to take the lead.

19 year old, Dennis Politic opened the scoresheet with a wonderful goal. This definitely gave fans something to shout about as it was also nominated for Sky Bets goal of the day.

Chris O’Grady also managed to find the back of the net in the second half. An outstanding team performance meant Bolton took all 3 points.

Twitter reactions

Bolton Wanderers’ 2 Key fixtures to close the gap

Bolton Wanderers Keith Hill

Bolton Wanderers sit on -2 points in League One. However, despite improved form recently, hard work needs to continue to climb out of the relegation zone.

Despite the injury blows within Keith Hill’s squad, he has got his men playing to a great standard recently.

Even though they got knocked out of the FA Cup by Plymouth Argyle last weekend, they have been improving in League One. They have also gone through to the next round of the Leasing.com Trophy.

They recently beat Fleetwood at home, 2-1. This win took them to -2 points. A massive improvement on the -12 they started out on this season.

In order to now climb out of the minus points and relegation zone, they will need some wins. Here are two fixtures they could take advantage of soon…

Bolton Wanderers v MK Dons

This Saturday will see the Trotters play MK Dons. Not only does being at home give them an advantage, but MK Dons being 21st in the League also helps.

When they have been beating the likes of Fleetwood who are in the top half of the table, Bolton should be confident here.

MK Dons currently have 13 points and are struggling. Bolton need to take advantage of that and aim for a win.

Accrington Stanley away

On the 23rd of November, Bolton will travel to Accrington Stanley. The fact that Bolton will be the away team may not favour their chances of winning.

However, Accrington Stanley are currently 19th in League One and are on 15 points. They should be able to use that to their advantage.

If Bolton can get some points from MK Dons, that should give them the confidence to beat Accrington Stanley too.

EFL Decision

Despite the positive thinking about Bolton getting out of the minus points and possibly the relegation zone too, there may be another issue.

Earlier in the season, Bolton couldn’t fulfil two fixtures. After a player strike, their clash with Brentford was called off. Then a player welfare issue meant that their clash with Doncaster also didn’t go ahead.

This has all meant that further misconduct charges could be placed on the club. The Bolton News has reported that the EFL will make a decision and it will be announced next week. Could all the hard work at Bolton be a waste of time?

How is Stoke’s Thibaud Verlinden getting on at Bolton?

Stoke fans were shocked when Bolton signed their winger, Thibaud Verlinden. He’s only on loan with Keith Hill’s side but Stoke fans thought he would be ready to join their first team this season.

As a Bolton fan, I would like to thank Stoke. Verlinden has been absolutely brilliant for us so far.

The skill that the 20 year old has is unbelievable. He has also shown the determination with the rest of the Bolton team to try and get points.

Stoke fans will welcome him back with open arms. This spell in League One will prepare him for regular football if Stoke want to feature him in their first team.

Unfortunately, he suffered a groin injury a few weeks ago and missed two games. However, he’s back now and fit.

Current form

In 7 games, he has scored 2 goals. The youngster is talented. Not only can he score goals and contribute to others but he can also inspire with his footwork.

He isn’t afraid to take on opposition and get stuck in. I would say that he is definitely getting the most out of his time at Bolton.


Before he returns to Stoke in January, there are still a few things he needs to work on.

One thing is fouls. When Verlinden played against Blackpool, he picked up a yellow card and the referee had to have a word with him. That didn’t stop him however, as he continued to be quite careless on the pitch.

Bolton’s win over Fleetwood shows these 3 signs of change

Bolton Wanderers managed a 2-1 win over Fleetwood this weekend. This now takes them a step closer to getting out of the minus points they were on.

This was a great result for the Trotters this weekend as the win made it 3 in a row.

Keith Hill has really transformed this Bolton side. They started the season on -12 points. However, now they are on -2.

One more win and they will be out of the minus and can start to focus on getting out of the relegation zone.

Here’s 3 points that I have taken from the game that prove things have changed…


Chris O’Grady and Daryl Murphy were to thank for both Bolton goals. This already proves a big change in the squad.

When both players were introduced to the squad, they struggled to find the back of the net. However, in recent weeks, they have both improved massively.

First Half

The fact that both goals came from the first half paints a picture of strength. Not only did Bolton keep on top of their lead.

They also kept on top of the 3 points by not allowing Fleetwood to equalise. This is also an improvement.


The Bolton squad were kind of chucked together with little time to gel. Now that they have, they are performing collectively.

Stand out performers other than the goal scorers have been players like Jason Lowe and Josh Emmanuel. They are all playing for each other, the fans and to escape the bottom three.

Bolton should keep these 3 players in the line up from midweek against Fleetwood

Keith Hill’s Bolton side are back in league action tomorrow. They will play Fleetwood at home. Their recent good form is something they will want to keep up.

After beating Bristol in the league and Man City Under 21’s in the Leasing.com trophy, Bolton will be feeling very confident.

However, they did have another injury blow this week as Ali Crawford is out. He scored against Man City and has been a big part of the team since signing.

There are a lot of players who have been great consistently like Remi Matthews. Players like Yoan Zouma seem to be having a tough time after an own goal this week. Hopefully they’ll bounce back.

Keith Hill will have to put that behind him and pick a decebt team for tomorrow. With that being said, here’s 3 players who should remain in the line up…

Chris O’Grady

As a Bolton fan, I wanted O’Grady to get a chance and now he has.

He scored twice agaisnt Man City’s youngsters. This should give him a drive to do the same this weekend.

Joe Dodoo

When Dodoo first joined Bolton, he was brought on as a substitute often. Now he has worked his way into the starting line up.

I wanted him to get that chance because I believe he drives the attack forward.

Dennis Politic

It’s unfortunate that Crawford is injured. The forward link up between him, Dodoo and O’Grady has been great to see.

However, now that he isn’t available, Politic could fill in that position. The youngster is more than capable.

Aberdeen looking to bring in former Bolton Wanderers man

According to The Sun, Aberdeen are looking to sign former Bolton Wanderers man, Gary O’Neil. Although it does look unlikely that the 36 year-old midfielder will be joining the club.

The Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes is looking to bolster his midfield numbers in the free transfer market.

McInnes has been forced into playing defenders, Greg Leigh and Zak Vyner in a central midfield position.

This comes after first choice players have been suspended or are out with injury.

To try and fix his midfield problems, the Aberdeen manager has held talks with ex QPR, Middlesbrough, Bolton and Norwich man, Gary O’Neil.

However, it doesn’t look like the move is likely to happen.

Gary O’Neil

The 36 year-old midfielder has been without a club since leaving Bolton in the summer.

However, it doesn’t look like a move to Aberdeen will be the next destination for him.

Youssouf Mulumbu

It now looks like another man could be on Aberdeen radar as a back up plan.

Former Celtic player, Youssouf Mulumbu could be the new man of interest.

Bolton will be looking to build on their first win with this starting 11 against Lincoln

Bolton Wanderers Keith Hill

Keith Hill’s Bolton side will be looking for another win this weekend. They managed to pick up their first lot of 3 points against Bristol this week. Hopefully that will inspire some more points against Lincoln.

Bolton managed a 2-0 win over Bristol Rovers this week. It was the first time the Wanderers have picked up 3 points this season.

It has taken them a step closer to escaping the minus points they’re in. Now they’ll be hoping to continue that process this weekend.

However, to make sure that standard of performance remains, this is the starting 11 that Keith Hill should put out…


The starting line up should be exactly the same as earlier in the week…

When Keith Hill first took over, the problem seemed to be the defence. However, with new signings and intense training, he seems to have sorted that.

Now it’s the attack he’s focussed on. Luke Murphy and Daryl Murphy both got the goals against Bristol.

Hopefully they’ll feel motivated to get their names on the score sheet again this weekend.


In recent weeks, Keith Hill has been playing around with his formation and positioning.

Now I think he’s found the correct attacking line up. Instead of having Joe Dodoo on the bench, he should be in the starting line up helping put Murphy, O’Grady and Crawford.

’I’d forgot this feeling… GET IN!’ Bolton fans react to their first win of the season

Bolton Wanderers had their first League One win of the season last night against Bristol Rovers. The Football Manc Cave looks at your reactions.

Bolton lost 3-1 to Rochdale at the weekend after taking the lead. This came after Bolton fans were sure a win was on the cards.

Last night, Keith Hill’s side travelled to Bristol. After 16 minutes, Like Murphy put Bolton 1-0 up.

The Trotters managed to keep their lead until half time. Daryl Murphy then made it 2-0 in the second half and the Wanderers claimed all 3 points.

This is obviously a big moment for the League one side as it takes them to -5 points. It’s a step closer to escaping the minus points they are on.

Here’s your reactions…

Twitter reactions:

Two in, two out for Bolton Wanderers tonight against Bristol Rovers

Bolton Wanderers Keith Hill

Things looked as though they were changing at Bolton. Keith Hill’s side completely transformed. However, they lost 3-1 to Rochdale at the weekend in a poor performance.

The Trotters went 1-0 up and things looked okay. Things then changed pretty quickly as Rochdale broke down Bolton’s defence and won 3-1.

It’s pretty poor after taking the lead. However, it was clear to see which players made mistakes.

There wasn’t enough power behind the shots when chances were created. Then there were issues at the back too.

It’s brilliant how Keith Hill has transformed this team. However, I feel like the trial and error process is being played too much with some players and positioning.

That is why The Football Manc Cave have picked out two players who should be in the starting line up tonight. Then we’ve picked 2 who should be dropped.

Out: Adam Senior

Don’t get me wrong, I am a massive fan of the youth players at Bolton. They played really well in our toughest period as a club.

Senior is a great defender and proved that he is capable in the early stages of the season. However, if Keith Hill is going to use him, I don’t think he should start, he should just be brought on as a sub.

It was clear that he struggled in the second half against Rochdale and this is why he should be on the bench.

Out: Daryl Murphy

Murphy made his debut for Bolton a few weeks ago against Blackpool. He looked promising and like he had more to give.

However, some of the shots he managed to get against Rochdale were poor. There wasn’t enough of a connection to make an impact.

Every player has off days but Bolton now have other options up front. Murphy should be on the bench and come on if needed.

In: Joe Dodoo

A player who has made a lot of difference to the pace and up front. He actually set up Thibaud Verlinden’s goal at the weekend.

Rather than coming on as a sub, I think he should start the game. The impact he has on his team mates should be something that fans see from kick off, not just in the second half.

Chris O’Grady

Chris is another striker who is experienced. However, he’s not been given a chance yet at Bolton.

Keith Hill should give him some minutes instead of Daryl Murphy to see if there’s any difference. Even if he’s brought on in the second half, giving him some game time would be nice to see.

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