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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.

Oldham Athletic’s defence is the key to continuing good 2020 form today against Crewe

Oldham Athletic's ground Boundary Park

Oldham Athletic haven’t lost a game since early January. However, this weekend will see them face a second-placed Crewe Alexandra.

It’s fair to say that Oldham has had their fair share of ups and downs this season. Fans expected a better League Two campaign but manager and player changes have taken a while to get used to.

However, things seem to be gradually changing as Oldham haven’t actually lost since January the 4th. They have also managed to climb to 14th in League Two.

Oldham Athletic's Zak Dearnley
Oldham Athletic’s Zak Dearnley will be looking to score again this week

Oldham’s win over Bradford City

A 3-0 win over Bradford at the weekend proved that Oldham’s style of play is changing. It was also enough for Bradford to sack their manager.

This game saw goals from Zak Dearnley, Jonny Smith and Mohamed Maouche. All of these goals came in the first half and meant they grabbed 3 points.

However, Crewe are flying high at the top of the league and could spoil Oldham’s good run this week.

Oldham Athletic's David Wheater
Ex Bolton Wanderer’s skipper David Wheater proving a great signing at Oldham Athletic

Oldham Athletic’s defence

David Wheater and Carl Piergianni are proving to be a good pair at the back for Oldham.

Jonny Smith has also impressed fans this season, not only by scoring goals but his whole performances have been inspiring.

Fans enjoyed last weekends performance and are also excited by the new players in this squad. Dino Maamria may want to stick with the same team to try and get the same results.

Keith Hill has options as Bolton Wanderers look to topple Coventry City today

Bolton Wanderers football stadium

Bolton Wanderers will travel to Coventry City this weekend. The Trotters will be looking to make it three games unbeaten in the league against high flying Coventry.

Despite Bolton struggling at the bottom of League One, they managed a solid performance against Tranmere Rovers last weekend. Goals from Dennis Politic and Chris O’Grady gave the Wanderers a clean sheet and three points.

However, this week should be a tougher challenge when they travel to a fifth-placed Coventry City.

Coventry hasn’t lost a league game since December. Although, they have had an extra few games recently as they’ve been competing in the FA Cup.

With the Bolton squad feeling positive from the win over Tranmere, there’s a chance they may be able to take advantage of Coventry’s extra games…

Bolton Wanderers Keith Hill
Bolton Wanderers manager Keith Hill

Keith Hill has options

With that in mind, it’s worth thinking about the team selection that Keith Hill should pick this weekend.

New additions to Hill’s squad such as Ethan Hamilton and Kean Bryan got their debuts against Tranmere. He does have a few other options but should he use them?

There should be a range of players on the bench incase Bolton do struggle. However, this winning side had an outstanding performance last weekend that shouldn’t be changed.

Ex Nottingham Forest player Daryl Murphy is becoming a fan favourite at Bolton

Daryl Murphy

Daryl Murphy has become a fan favourite at the University of Bolton Stadium this season. He has produced most of their goals this season.

However, it was Chris O’Grady and 19-year-old Dennis Politic who were responsible for the goals against Tranmere.

Hopefully, all three players will be able to contribute towards a solid performance this weekend.

FC United stumble through in thrilling cup semi-final against Irlam

FC United of manchester manager Neil Reynolds

In the semi-final of the Manchester FA Frank Hannah Premier Cup, FC United of Manchester entertained Irlam FC.

Irlam FC from the North West Counties Premier League, in the opening 20 minutes had the better chances of the 2 sides. As they looked to cause an upset at Boundary Park.

Irlam’s compact display while looking to hit FC United on the counter-attack game plan, had the home side struggling in the early exchanges.

FC United manager Neil Reynolds instructed to his forward line to press on the compact defence, and start to play in the wide pockets with the advancing full-backs.

FC United started to open the game up through the wide spaces, creating problems down either flank through full-backs Donohue and Dodd.

A great dummy by Owolabi left Dodd bursting into the 18-yard box, to cut it across goal for Sinclair-Smith to tap into the net. With FC United 1-0 up, Reynolds side smelt blood and soon added a second through Ennis.

Going into half time the game looked a formality.

Irlam pushed on

Irlam came out of the traps in the second half. A stray pass by goalkeeper Belford seen the ball land at half time substitute Southworth’s feet inside the box, as he calmly slotted it home to make it 2-1.

Irlam pushed on, as the tie opened up into a real end to end cup match.

Substitute’s Linney and Hawley brought a freshness to FC United’s play as they aimed to calm the oncoming waves of attacks from Irlam.

Irlam’s second-half display should have earned them to go past the 90 minutes. As they pushed the home side to earn every inch of their victory and were rightly clapped off at the end.

FC United go through to the Cup final and will face Trafford FC, who defeated Droylsden 3-2 in the other semi-final.

3 Bolton Wanderers January signing’s that you should watch out for

Bolton Wanderers football stadium

The Football Manc Cave is taking a closer look at some of Bolton Wanderers’ January signing’s. We’ve picked out 3 players who should be ones to watch.

In the summer transfer window, Keith Hill had a busy last day bringing as many players in as possible. However, this window was a little less hectic.

With Bolton being stuck at the bottom of League One, it looks like relegation is on the cards. This hasn’t been appealing to some potential signing’s.

It has also meant that some players who have arrived at Bolton have only signed deals until the end of the current season.

With that being said, there are a few signing’s that could be exciting for Keith Hill’s side in the months to come.

Bolton Wanderers Kean Bryan in action
Photo Credit: The Bolton News

Kean Bryan

The 23-year-old has signed for the Wanderers’ until the end of the season. He arrived from Sheffield United very excited to get started.

The defender made his debut this weekend and made a good impression. His lack of game time at the Blades could have effected how he played this weekend.

However, he always looked confident on the ball and seemed to always have time and space.

Bolton Wanderers Ethan Hamilton
Photo Credit: The Bolton News

Ethan Hamilton

The 21-year-old has joined Bolton from Man United. He also played against Tranmere at the weekend.

His ability to win nearly every ball that came in his direction was enough to impress fans and scare the opposition.

The energy that the midfielder also brought to Saturday’s clash, was an exciting element for the future.

Bolton’s new loan signing Anthony Georgiou of Tottenham Hotspur
(Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Anthony Georgiou

The 22-year-old is yet to play for Keith Hill. However, the fact that he has come from Tottenham’s youth team is an exciting enough prospect.

He is another player to only sign for Bolton until the end of the season but the midfielder is someone who fans should look out for.

Salford City fans optimistic following point ‘Not that far of promotion places’

Salford CIty boss Graham Alexander

Despite an own goal giving Port Vale the lead, Salford City managed to get a point this weekend. The Football Manc Cave takes a look at your reactions.

Salford City hasn’t been doing too bad in League Two. This weekend saw them face Port Vale away.

Graham Alexander’s side managed to keep it level until half time. However, Cameron Burgess managed to put the ball in the back of his own net in the 55th minute of the game.

Fans were thankful that Tom Elliot saved the day for Salford City when he managed to equalise in the 75th minute.

The players thought they were unfortunate not to grab a winner. However, this has put Salford 11th in League Two.

Here are your reactions…

Twitter reactions

Rochdale fans react to the last gasp winner ‘Poor Shrewsbury must feel like they’ve been mugged.’

Rochdale defending

An 88th-minute goal meant that Rochdale took all three points against Shrewsbury this weekend. The Football Manc Cave looks at your reactions.

The game wasn’t packed with a lot of action and fans seemed to be pretty bored. However, in the 67th minute, 21-year-old Tyler Smith replaced Aaron Wilbraham.

Rochdale fans have been used too late disappointment in games. Although, the late goal in this game went in their favour.

Tyler Smith managed to get his first goal for Dale in the 88th minute. This also was enough for Brian Barry Murphy’s side to take all three points.

However, despite the win, Rochdale fans are still frustrated…

Twitter reactions

Oldham Athletic fans react to their win ‘Just a shame it took the fans to give them a push instead of the manager’

Oldham Athletic's Zak Dearnley

A half-hour set back didn’t affect Oldham Athletic this weekend. They managed a 3-0 win over Bradford City. The Football Manc Cave looks at your reactions.

This League Two clash should have kicked off at 3 pm. However, strong winds meant that an advertising board was unsafe.

It was 3.30 pm before the game kicked off but the late start didn’t put Oldham off.

Zak Dearnley opened the scoresheet after 11 minutes. Jonny Smith also grabbed his fourth goal in six games. Finally, Mohamed Maouche got the third goal at the end of the first half.

These three goals were enough for Oldham to take all three points. Jonny Smith was also nominated for player of the weekend by Sky Bet.

Here are your thoughts…

Twitter reactions

Man City fans react to 2-0 defeat ‘Guardiola should be getting some stick in my opinion’

Man City boss Pep Guardiola

Manchester City suffered their sixth defeat of the season to Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur yesterday. The loss leaves the blues 22 points behind Liverpool.

Following VAR controversy, a missed penalty, Sterling coming off injured and a sending off – it wasn’t Man City’s afternoon. The defeat leaves Pep Guardiola’s men 22 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool.

Despite being second in the league and into the first cup final of the season, it seems Man City are not firing on all cylinders. So much so, it’s reported that Guardiola kept his side locked in the changing room for 45 minutes after the match.

Pep Out

A rebuild in the summer wouldn’t be surprising, it’s if Guardiola is up to the task. Many feel around Twitter that he’ll be gone in the summer.

However, there is a very small minority of the Man City fanbase trying to blow up the #PepOut trend following the disappointing loss.

‘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

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