Nobody Wants Us........

Date: Thursday 14th July 2005

Warthogs Trough

Do we care? Warthog does...

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warthog

Total Posts: 7939

Total Articles: 65

Member Since:
29th March 2005

Big Sam is not happy. Not surprising really. Being referred to as Big Sam all the time must be seriously irritating. I wonder if his wife does it? “Big Sam, you’re dinner’s ready!” “For Christ’s sake woman. How many times have I told you? The name’s Sam.” At the moment however, the Bolton manager has bigger problems on his plate, if you’ll forgive the pun. Despite being in Europe, and for once having money to spend, it is proving difficult to sign selected transfer targets. "It's the worst summer I've known," he said, referring to the failure to land high profile players like Dietmar Hamann, Mikael Forssell, Olivier Dacourt and Juventus defender Igor Tudor. It is frustrating for Wanderer’s fans as well. There has been the usual tiresome summer of speculation, drummed up by tabloid journalists with nothing better do, and football agents plying their grubby trade, but the fact is, we are not as attractive to players as we would like to be. Over the past few days we have had the strange case of Collins Mbesuma. Strange for one, because some fans have been getting passionate about signing a player from the equivalent of Coca Cola League Two. Strange for two, because despite the player being allegedly the greatest thing since stripy toothpaste, he is afraid to train for a week with Bolton, so that his ability can be assessed. Bye Bye Collins, and good riddance. Should we worry about the lack of signings, or is there a sensible explanation? Leaving aside Mr Mbesuma and his dodgy band of advisors, let us look at the four players mentioned above. It seems that indecision is now part of a Liverpool player's psyche. The news lately was full of Steven Gerrard, who was staying with the club, then leaving, then signing a new contract. Dietmar Hamann a few weeks earlier was no better. He was coming to Bolton, then he was going to Hamburg and finally, he too was staying on Merseyside. Given the plaudits received for his performance in the Champion League final, this decision is understandable. No doubt a juicy new contract also played it’s part. Next there is Forssell. The Finland international has previously been quoted as saying that he did not want to move any further north than Birmingham. Unusually for a footballer, he stuck to his word, but one wonders what he found so fearsome about a move up the map. Does he think we still have back to back housing and small children sweeping the chimneys? Given the Southern media’s lazy reporting of anything outside London, maybe he does. Of the other two, Dacourt would prefer to stay in Europe (can’t blame him really, it’s bloody freezing sat in the Upper West stand in January, even with your overcoat buttoned up to your eyebrows. God knows what it must be like on the pitch) and Igor Tudor has made demands which the club can’t meet. So, on an individual level the four cases are explainable. Looking at the above players also reveals a new ambition in Wanderers' attempted acquisitions. Previously, the club has recruited players who were seen as old, underachieving or just unmanageable. Allardyce’s genius was to take those players and rehabilitate them. Now we are seeking players still in their prime. In short, the bar has been raised, and the manager is in new territory. No doubt he will come to terms with the surroundings before too long. Following on from that, other clubs have followed Bolton’s lead in signing players on loans and Bosmans, and then paying them superior wages. Liverpool signed Bolo Zenden on a free from the Smoggies. In pre-seasons past the Scousers would have spent about twenty million by now. Our model works, and it has many imitators, which gives us competition for players which was not there previously. The other problem is image, or the lack of it. It’s not just the club. For many people overseas, the town is invisible. Those of you on holiday abroad, who talk to the locals, will be used to the blank expressions when you claim Bolton as your home. Patiently, you explain that the town is just north of Manchester. Then you get two questions: “So you are a Man United fan then eh?” Closely followed by: “Why do you have your hands around my throat, English pig?” Finally, we come to the club, beloved by us, but not by anyone else. Perceptions in football are slow to shift. The word amongst the uninformed (the majority in other words) is that we are a physical, long ball team, composed entirely of foreign mercenaries. No wonder Forssell is afraid. Anyone in the know will realise what a load of old rubbish that is, but the label sticks. Bolton have completed four consecutive Premiership seasons, finishing the last two in very respectable positions. Prior to that, we were relegation fodder and before that, were either a yo-yo club or grubbing about in the lower divisions. That reputation still stands, and taking part in a devalued UEFA Cup competition will not improve things, unless we do spectacularly well in it. Ultimately for the team, the solution is in their own hands. Consistent top six finishes will eventually see the club regarded a genuine player. Ambitious? Sure, but why not be, the manager still is. For the fans, there is no solution to the problem yet, but there is a way of coping with the frustration. Remember those days in the lower divisions. Think of the trips to the likes of Halifax, Rochdale and Shrewsbury and compare them to the ones next season. We are on a long and exciting road. Be glad that you are along for the ride.

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