Another week goes by in the turbulent times that are the life of a Bolton fan. Where to start?
Last Saturday, a shambolic display saw us slip back into the second division basement. Not a lot of positives to look at and a worrying display against one of our relegation rivals left us wobbling.
However, the distraction from this relegation drama came from behind the scenes. First news came that there is still an unsettled winding-up petition from HMRC, which although non threatening, showed that we are still negotiating a bond with Mr. Taxman for future troubles. An unwelcome early Christmas present which pales into insignificance as Big Ken released his weekly ramble.
A statement which has become more and more about finances than fan connections, really hit us all hard. I kind of get where Ken is coming from, but worded differently may have come across less damaging. In one fell swoop he simultaneously slagged off the fans, slated the players and shot down the manager. At a time when we need togetherness, we seem to have been torn apart.
The simple fact is that for the prices charged, people will not leave their house to watch a relegation battle. To say that we need an extra 5000 bums in seats to sign players, is a slap in the face to the hard working people who slave away, week in week out, to provide for their families at this tough time of year. Especially when earlier in the year, Ken and his superagent son Lee were sunning themselves in Monaco while the Whites were in court.
As for the players and manager, we have been in an embargo for the last 3 transfer windows. How we have survived as we have is nothing short of a miracle. The players we have signed, however, besides a small few are not the quality we need to perform at this level. I’ll come back to a select few, but as Ken slags off the recruitment, his son was heavily involved in a good chunk of those deals. Now, yes, maybe Parky hadn’t given some players their fair shot so far, and Ken, quoting statistics despite saying previously that he doesn’t take statistics into consideration, may be right, but given our situation, the timing of this statement may not be the best.
The club has dead wood to shed. Players that aren’t performing or getting a chance. The ones that aren’t playing need to go. Simple. Or is it? Proven players at this level such as Craig Noone haven’t been given a sniff. Adam Armstrong has played a huge amount of games without showing much. Is it the scouting, the management, clauses in the contract? Who knows…
Alfie isn’t playing and god knows why. Buckley has recently been given a shot and looks OK. Karacan and Morais have faded into obscurity despite a promising promotion season last year. Ameobi, after a hot start, has stuttered. There are young players in the under 23s who are now registered to play, and we were told the club worked hard to get them registered, yet they are not getting a chance. One thing is for sure, something stinks behind the scenes that we’re not being told.
Vela is a big name on everyone’s lips. An asset that may be sold in January, but in truth, hasn’t been performing this year either. It comes down to this though. Players have to leave to bring others in, and for Ken to say that we can’t afford it because the fans aren’t turning out is a horrible case of passing the buck. The news from a couple of days ago makes me think he’s talking from green eyed envy. Weeks ago we were told he brushed off potential buyers until the end of the year, and then all of a sudden Barnsley are bought by wealthy investors who have already done an amazing job with Nice in France. Nobody can say they may have been interested in Bolton, but at the moment suspicion is high.
I don’t know. I’m just a fan behind a keyboard. I don’t know if Parky can do a better job with better players. A big point Ken made is that he wants players who can step straight in, but with no money, where are these players who, as Ken wants, are already match fit, playing regularly and available to transfer.
At first, these weekly posts made me feel that the club were now transparent and we were getting the news we wanted. Now, I feel as confused as if there was no news coming out at all. Ken did step in and save the club, and for that we owe him our gratitude, but he seems to be slipping away from saviour and now appears to be all about the money.
I really hope that there’s clarification on these comments this week, but I feel that we won’t learn anything at all.
Besides all this, we have a huge game against Cardiff coming up. Maybe the magnitude will make the players perform. We can only hope. One thing is for sure…. Its going to be a VERY interesting month in the future of Bolton Wanderers.
By Simon Brown