A lesson from history: Bolton Wanderers' striking solution to their promotion problem
WANT promotion from the second tier? History teaches us Wanderers need one vital commodity to make it happen...
Any manager will tell you a real goalscorer is worth his weight in gold but nowhere more so than in the Championship, where one poacher can make the difference between a shot at Premier League glory or another season of mid-table mediocrity.
Wanderers have escaped the second tier nine times, and in eight of them have had a striker who has netted 20 goals or more.
Goals were spread out last season, with no player getting into double figures. Jermaine Beckford topped the list with nine, followed by Andre Moritz and Lukas Jutkiewicz on seven.
The search for a player who is capable of reaching that elusive 20 mark is nothing new – in fact, the club have waited 12 years for any player to score more than a dozen goals in a single campaign.
After Michael Ricketts found the back of the net 15 times in the 2001/2002 season, Kevin Nolan, Stelios, Nicolas Anelka, Johan Elmander and Chris Eagles have all hit 12.
Back in the Premier League days, with a campaign spread over 38 games and not 46, the lack of goals en masse did not prove as costly.
The sides of Sam Allardyce and Gary Megson in particular were set out to protect a clean sheet first, but few would dispute that Anelka, or even Ivan Klasnic, were not penalty box predators.
Since the club dropped into the Championship, however, the lack of a “match-winner” has been highlighted all the more.
Wanderers did not win a single game after falling behind last season and bemoaning missed opportunities became a regular feature of Freedman’s post-match interviews.
The Scot hoped he had found the answer last summer in Beckford, after fighting hard to bring him to the club from Leicester City.
But a string of injury and fitness problems meant we never really saw the best of a man who does have a pedigree of substantial goal hauls.
A month before the start of pre-season and Beckford remains the only realistic option, although the door has been left open for Craig Davies and Marvin Sordell to return from loan spells and prove they have a place in Freedman’s plans.
There is no doubt how most Wanderers fans would rectify the situation – with two of last season’s loan stars Lukas Jutkiewicz and Joe Mason very much at the top of their wish list this summer.
Finances continue to stand in the way of that happening. But promotion rarely comes cheap and Wanderers will almost certainly have to dig deep in the next few months if they are going to escape the second tier for a 10th time in their history.
Hot-shot double acts
Wanderers have been promoted from the second tier nine times in their history. Here is a list of the top two goalscorers of those promotion campaigns:
2000/2001: Michael Ricketts – 24, Dean Holdsworth – 15
1996/1997: John McGinlay – 30, Nathan Blake – 24
1994/1995: John McGinlay – 22, Mixu Paatelainen – 15
1977/1978: Neil Whatmore – 21, Frank Worthington – 12
1934/1935: Jack Milsom – 35, Ray Westwood – 33
1910/1911: Billy Hughes – 21, Harold Hilton – 13
1908/1909: Billy Hughes – 16, Jimmy Hogan – 11
1904/1905: Sam Marsh – 26, William Yenson – 24
1899/1900: Laurie Bell – 23, Hugh Morgan – 11