STEVIE G EXAMPLE CAN HELP JAY SPUR BOLTON
‘Gerrard way is to give 100 per cent’
TIMES are changing for combative midfielder Jay Spearing. At Liverpool he was one of many struggling to break past world stars such as Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva, but at new club Bolton it is he who is expected to be the club’s leading light.
Before Bolton’s opening game of the new Championship season – against fierce local rivals Burnley at Turf Moor no less – it was Spearing’s name the visiting faithful chanted prematch, even though he hadn’t yet signed for the club.
That was largely owing to a successful loan stint at the Reebok Stadium last season, one that ended with the 24-year-old picking up the club’s player of the year award.
Bolton boss Dougie Freedman made Spearing his top transfer target of the summer and eventually tied up his permanent signature for an undisclosed fee, believed to be around £1.4m, in time for him to make a second debut in the 1-1 draw with Reading.
A boyhood Liverpool fan who had been on the Anfield books from the age of seven, Spearing admits it was tough to accept his time there had come to an end – but after talks with Reds manager Brendan Rodgers he acknowledged he had to seek regular firstteam football.
Spearing insists he is ready to step out of the shadows of the stars and become an indispensable member of his new club in his own right.
“Coming back here felt as though I had never been away and I just want to help the club get promotion now,” he said. “For pre-season I was back at Liverpool and just concentrating on getting myself as fit as possible. I had a good chat with Brendan and we both felt it was the right time for me to move on so I could get regular first team football.
“He didn’t put it as bluntly as ‘you aren’t going to get any football here’, and I knew there would be chances in certain games, but with the quality of the players at Liverpool it was going to be tough for me.
“I would probably play bits and bobs through the season but it is regular football that I need at my age so it was an easy decision to make, especially when I spoke to a few of the players here and the manager and chairman – it didn’t take long for me to sign.”
For a while it appeared as though Spearing would fulfil his ambition of becoming an Anfield regular, as under Kenny Dalglish, he became a mainstay of the Reds midfield, starting the FA Cup semi-final win over rivals Everton and the subsequent final defeat against Chelsea at Wembley in 2012.
Dalglish’s departure and the arrival of Rodgers, though, saw the local lad back among the pack.
But what he learnt from playing with the likes of Gerrard, left, can only benefit his new target of returning Bolton to the Premier League.
“I loved playing for Liverpool,” said Spearing, who made 45 starts following his debut in 2008. “Being a local lad playing in the FA Cup semifinal and final at Wembley and winning the Carling Cup, I loved every second of it, but in football terms I needed to move on.
“I have picked up different bits from all types of players but the main thing is to always give 100 per cent. Everything the top players at Liverpool like Gerrard and (Javier) Mascherano did was to give 100 per cent and that is how I play.”
Spearing is confident that success is around the corner for Wanderers.
“I think the difference this year will be the start to our season,” he said. “Last year Bolton didn’t have the best of starts and we need to pick up as many points as we can now.
“The manager has brought in some good players all with Premier League-standard ability. That will put us in the mix.”
CHALLENGE: Bolton’s Jay Spearing, left, and Reading’s Danny Guthrie