I love Bolton Wanderers and big transfers have excited me ever since I was a little boy.
When I was wee my Grandmother would send me a copy of MATCH magazine every single week. It was back in a time before transfer windows were even being considered for implementation and a player could move from one club to another whenever. This meant there was transfer gossip every week! Honestly when I saw the postman approaching with my MATCH I would wait at the doorstep and as soon as I saw the letterbox open from the outside, I would pull the envelopes out of the postie’s grasp, find my mag, rip open its packaging, go straight to the ‘transfer gossip’ page, skim read for the words Bolton Wanderers and if they weren’t there, sulk…all, day, long.
I have never recovered from my seemingly-chronic case of transferitis.
When I am ninety and Wayne Rooney is ninety one, I will still be suffering from it. Thirty-three days ago I was more intrigued about the opening of the transfer window than I was with celebrating the New Year (although maybe that is because when you work in a nightclub there is a certain black-sambuca-related inevitability about NYE). Safe to say, I really hoped my team – Bolton – and our chairman Phil Gartside, would open his chequebook in January and the changes would be rung.
As it turned out, the club loaned in three players. Three young, brilliantly talented attackers who will want the ball at their feet and – much to the relief of Bolton fans nationwide – not their head. Stuart Holden, Vladimir Weiss and Jack Wilshere have all been highly-rated by their parent clubs since they were in nappies and hopefully over the next five months they will show fans of the Premier League just why they have had so much faith placed in them.
But did this cure my insufferable bout of the ‘itis? For some reason, no it didn’t.
Bolton need an additional striker. Nobody incredible, just somebody with a little more flair than Kevin Davies and the ability to chip in at important times. I am talking about a proven striker who will score between four and six ridiculously important goals between now and the end of the season. There were plenty of names bashed around yesterday, on the final day of the transfer window, but none of these names were linked with a move to Bolton and for the life of me I do not why understand why.
Benjani, Daniel Cousin, Aruna Dindane, Diomansy Kamara and David Nugent. None of them will ever lift a World Cup or toast a Golden Shoe. But that is not important. The difference between surviving in the Premiership and slipping down in to the Championship is marginal; there are moments in matches in which the team you support need somebody with a proven track record of being able to control the ball, roll a defender and slot the ball in to the corner of the net or creep up at the far post to get to a hanging cross first even when he had no right to. That player does not have to do it every week, just at certain, important times and a player like Benjani could very well be the difference between staying up and being relegated.
I am suprised and curious to know why Owen Coyle has not brought in an experienced striker. The flamboyance of Weiss and Wilshere could transform the way Bolton Wanderers play the game, or they could struggle to settle in to a team who for the last seven years have prided themselves and relied on being physically more dominant than any other team in the Premiership.
The symptoms of transferitis remain. January did nothing to relieve them. Apparently faith can heal anything though, so for the time being, I’m going to believe Owen Coyle knows exactly what he is doing. Will the faith prove to be misplaced? Only time and a lot of tight, scrappy matches will tell.
By Ross A. Fox