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Bolton Wanderers Season Review 2006/07
"For several years Sam Allardyce had proved to be the master of picking up veterans, young talents and value purchases to mould into a very effective combination but the signature of Nicholas Anelka was on a different level"
2006/07 wasn’t a bad season for Bolton Wanderers by any standards. They finished on the same points total (56) as a year earlier and this time it delivered UEFA Cup football. However, this success was overshadowed by the departure of long term boss Sam Allardyce.
As well as the resignation of the man who put them very close to Champions League football, Bolton fans have also had to watch piles of new cash coming into many of the middle ranking clubs that Wanderers have been competing with for the past 5 years or so.
2006/07 kicked off with a dramatic signing. For several years Sam Allardyce had proved to be the master of picking up veterans, young talents and value purchases to mould into a very effective combination but the signature of Nicholas Anelka was on a different level.
While Bolton have been very effective and difficult to beat, the squad have lacked a striker who can deliver 15-20 goals a season that could just force the cub into a top four spot. Anelka was to be the answer and Allardyce had no qualms about dealing with the Frenchman’s mercurial temperament.
Anelka was off to a slow start, delivering just once in his first 11 starts. Then he burst into life against Arsenal of all teams with two strikes. Overall though he would only register 11 times in 35 games, which is respectable but not enough to boost the club to the next level. Despite his arrival Bolton ended with two goals less than in the 2005/06 campaign.
Bolton produced the same amount of points as a year earlier but they way they arrived proved markedly different. Wanderers won 7 times away from the Reebok Stadium as compared to 4 in 2005/06 but they were beaten on home turf 5 times as opposed to just 3.
Bolton were never able to establish a really consistent rhythm through the season, aside from a purple patch in the late autumn. There were away wins at Portsmouth, Newcastle and Blackburn around a home victory over Liverpool but any euphoria was dented when Manchester United hammered them at the Reebok 4-0.
The United loss may not have been unexpected but lowly Wigan came next and bagged a single goal win and then came a point at Sheffield United and another defeat at Everton. It proved typical of how the campaign went that Bolton bounced back to overcome Arsenal only to lose at Reading two games later.
The Christmas holiday period turned out to be excellent but then the inconsistency returned- draws with Man City and Charlton and a 5-1 hammering at Middlesbrough, yet also a creditable draw at Arsenal.
The equilibrium at the club had been disturbed by allegations about Sam Allardyce’s transfer activity in a BBC documentary. The manager denies all charges but it may have contributed to his decision to move on, along with being denied a shot at the England job last summer. In any case, he might have felt that he had taken Bolton as far as he could and that a new man was needed at the helm.
It came as a blow when the manager announced his decision to go even before the season had closed. Chairman Phil Gartside moved swiftly to appoint Sammy Lee from within but there are worries that other backroom staff will go to Newcastle too. Lee took charge for the final two games and a last day draw with West Ham ensured UEFA Cup football.
Since the season ended there has been speculation about the future of several star names but thus far Bolton are relatively unscathed. In fact they have added Jlloyd Samuel and Gavin McCann from Aston Villa- the loss of Tal Ben Heim had been expected for some time.
Bolton have European football to look forward too but with the powerful recruiting taking place around them, that might be a mixed blessing. 2006/07 ended with Trotters fans somewhat apprehensive about the future, yet there are still grounds for optimism.
Sam Allardyce built Bolton into a settled Premiership club and there’s no reason what they can’t remain in the top half. It will be a greater struggle to stay in the top five or six though, at least in the short term.
Latest article feedbackJohn Kolodziejski:
Sam did a good job at Bolton adn all fans appreciate that. Altho he was good at buying, man-managing and getting the bets out of most players, he also persisted far too long with some who went off form: stand up Hunt, Pedersen, Ricketts, Jay-Jay and sad to say now Nolan. The hope is Sammy Lee will bring more tactical elan to the role and give our deep midfield incentives to play further up the park and deliver more service to our often isolated front line.
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