IS IT SAFE TO LOVE BOLTON AGAIN?
The international break can sometimes be positive. It is a time for reflection and introspection that helps to give a bit of peace to analyse just exactly whereabouts the Wanderers are at. It gives the opportunity to compare the March break, the final one of the season with the September and October stoppages: and, wow, it is time to truly recognise the good being done on and off the pitch.
Now, of course the headline to this blog is slightly over-exaggerated as I'm sure like me, no one ever fell out of love with Bolton Wanderers. It has been an extremely testing time over the past 2-3 years in particular and there has been a lot of reasons to lose motivation and create an apathetic fan base at best, at worst - an angry, toxicity that was emphasised by the culmination of Dougie Freedman's abhorrent reign. The sterile detachment between a failing, mis-managed brand and a bored, disillusioned group of supporters is painful and disheartening. The club stooped to depths of agreeing a deal with a loan shark for a smallest bit of extra cash due to how poorly the club was being run into the ground. It was shocking; not only was it a incoherent and incompetent mess but it was becoming something morally repugnant as well.
However, as the 2015-2016 season drew to an end; there was the fitting message that things can get better from half way down England's land. Leicester City, a third division club in administration less than 10 years prior, had won the Premier League. A stark reminder that Wanderer were above them 2 seasons prior in the battle for the 6th placed playoff positon. Neil Lennon was dismissed from his role in one of Wanderers' darkest ever seasons where relegation was actually the least worrying thing as court cases could've, worst case scenario, seen the liquidation of this historic and wonderful football club. Then, the takeover and what seemed like either naïve businessmen or conniving criminals is now beginning to look like a real plan and a plan they want to see through.
In the previous two seasons, Mr K Anderson and his son Lee, who goes by the pseudonym (of sorts) Superagent73 on Twitter, have led a revival of this institution. The appointment of Phil Parkinson accompanied by the signings of several Championship-standard players in League One equated in promotion to the 2nd division at the first attempt. The season began with the failed promise of a lifted embargo but did get worse as 11 games in saw just 2 points. However, the Whites are now in a position here with 8 games to go, it would take Wanderers seriously slipping up to not avoid relegation - we are on the verge of back-to-back miracles amid the off-the-pitch circumstances. These successes have been emphasised by the behind-the scenes work. A thorough scouting network and recruitment system is beginning to shape up as well as the first place under-23 side led by David Lee and headed up by Jimmy Phillips; two club legends.
Over the recent years, anyone who has followed The Burnden Way will know and understand my views on the Anderson's. I won't go so far to accept their previous misdemeanours but I will now concede they have a plan. I was confused as to why two southern businessmen would invest in a club at risk of extinction and KA has previously admitted the huge mess of the club. However, on the back of his interview with Marc Iles in The Bolton News today; it's fair to say he's level-headed about this club and for the first time ever, I can feel a certain warmth. He admits he cannot sustain the club long-term but will sell to a man that can take this club on. In the meantime, he has saved our club and is now providing a stability that, as mentioned in the cited article, Wanderers have not had for a long time. There is a real sense of excitement and hope now that even following promotion I've been skeptical of; this is a club performing and outdoing any possible cliché about sleeping giants and waking up etc.
It is safe to love Bolton Wanderers again.