Bolton Look Likely to Replicate Charltonís Fall From Grace.


Mark Carlton

Mark is a football fan first and foremost, but loves nothing more than removing the football demons from his head and placing them on paper for everyone to share and see. Isnít he kind?...
[full biography]
27/03/2008 15:00:00.
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With time ticking away and the goals drying up, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Bolton Wanderers to retain their Premier League position next season. Gary Megson seems to have hit a barrier recently after a bright start as manager propelled them up the league table. These early days included beating Manchester United at the Reebok in November.

When Megson was appointed, he quickly set about tightening the team up, returning Bolton to its old and successful ways, which worked well under Sam Allardyce and made them a team that no one liked to play against. It was that style of play that got results, and Megson was correct to go back to Boltonís roots after Sammy Leeís expansive style of football just didnít sit right with the Bolton squad.

It is all very well restoring this philosophy, but you canít help but feel Bolton shot themselves in the foot in January with the sale of Nicolas Anelka.

Since the departure of Anelka in January, Bolton have struggled to pick up points and with only 4 goals scored in their previous 10 matches, they are looking extremely light-weight up front. Kevin Davies has never been a prolific scorer and his measly 3 goals this season will not be enough to keep them afloat. With El Hadji Diouf contributing a further 5 goals in all competitions, it is hard to see them getting out of this situation.

Baring this in mind, it makes the decision to sell Anelka in the January transfer window even more baffling. £15 million is no substitute to losing Premier League status - although having a player that doesnít want to stay at the club is not conducive to team harmony either.

Boltonís plight says a lot for continuity and stability at football clubs. Bolton are seemingly taking the route Charlton Athletic did last season. After 6 years of stabilisation in the Premier League, Charlton suffered relegation in 2007.

Alan Curbishley felt that he needed a break from the game after 15 years in charge of The Addicks at the end of the 2005/2006 season. The loss of Curbishley was immense - the steadiness evaporated and was replaced with chaos as Charlton sacked Curbishleyís successor, Iain Dowie after 12 league games and then appointed the comical figure of Les Reed, who lasted until Christmas Eve 2006. Ex-West Ham United boss Alan Pardew took over the reigns in the New Year, but couldnít halt Charltonís slide towards the Championship. As Charlton have found out this season, it is not that easy to recover from the dreaded drop.

With 7 league fixtures left this season, Bolton need to find goals quick to avoid relegation, but the fixture list is not entirely kind. Their run-in begins this weekend at home to Arsenal. Despite losing the last two encounters against the North-London club, Bolton have previously been a bogey side for Arsene Wenger and with The Gunners struggling of late, they wonít be looking forward to this physical battle.

2 trips to the capital in the last few weeks of the season to face Tottenham Hotspur, and then Chelsea on the final day of the season make the set of fixtures look extremely daunting. Boltonís second to last fixture and final home game of the season against Sunderland is looking increasingly like a 6-pointer - even at such a late stage in the season. The relegation battle looks like it will be a tight affair and will probably go to the wire.

With fixtures against West Ham at home and Middlesbrough and Aston Villa away from the Reebok completing this seasons matches, they will surely look to pick up points against these inconsistent teams.

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