LENNON’S WORDS HIDE THE TRUTH
NEIL LENNON did the honourable thing by blaming himself for Bolton’s humiliation at Middlesbrough.
But, while a late switch to 3-5-2 certainly did his players no favours, the Trotters chief was fooling nobody. That squad is relegation fodder.
A club that once sparkled with the talents of Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff is now relying on 38-year-old Emile Heskey. Coffers once stuffed with Premier League cash are now littered with IOUs.
As of April, Bolton’s debt stood at £172.9m, the majority to owner Eddie Davies. Having pumped so much into the club, the 69-year-old wants to call it a day but, understandably, isn’t prepared to write off what he is owed.
This has left Bolton in a Catch-22 situation; Davies’ funding has dried up, yet that big red number on the books is scaring off investors. The result? Cash-strapped limbo.
The big earners and bad eggs from the Premier League days have finally been shipped out. The wage bill is down to £21m – roughly the same as Bournemouth last season.
Yet, where the Cherries had built steadily over several years, Bolton have been doing the opposite – shedding weight and using what little cash remained to build a hodge-podge squad of freebies and cast-offs. Now, that’s all they have left.
A total revamp is required, but Lennon’s hands are tied. The former Celtic boss, who hasn’t spent a cent in his time at the Reebok, was last week told he must sell before he can bolster his ranks. As for paying a transfer fee, forget it.
Fans, meanwhile, have turned their fire on chairman Phil Gartside, who they accuse of lacking transparency.
It’s a miserable situation and one that is unlikely to improve – at least in the short term.
The Trotters have taken just 19 points from their last 23 games.
Without reinforcements, League One beckons.