Johan Elmander has a point to prove against Bolton Wanderers
A GHOST of Wanderers’ past is waiting to give his former club a nightmare start to their Championship preparations.
Johan Elmander – the striker who cost a club record £8.2million in 2008 before quitting on a free transfer three years later – is poised to make his first start for his new side Brondby in Copenhagen tonight.
Although billed as a friendly, ex-Whites front man Henrik Pedersen believes the Sweden international will be especially fired up to prove wrong the fans who believe he failed to substantiate his hefty transfer fee.
Elmander struggled for his first 18 months in England under Gary Megson before showing marked improvement playing in the more attacking style of Owen Coyle.
But his exit left a sour taste in the mouths of many Wanderers supporters who watched his contract whittle down, allowing him to sign for Turkish club Galatasaray for nothing.
“I can understand why fans would be angry at him,” Pedersen told The Bolton News. “But there is always two sides to every story. I would say that in his early days he did not look comfortable with the price tag when he played for Bolton but also that he did not settle with the football he was being asked to play.
“Sometimes it is difficult to be happy in a team when you do not like the kind of football you are playing every week.
“Gary Megson liked to play his way but Johan is the kind of player who maybe wants to pass the ball and keep it on the ground.
“In the end maybe he did not feel that Bolton appreciated him and wanted to play elsewhere.
“I felt a bit sorry for him because he is a good player and maybe he didn’t show that at Bolton all the time.”
Elmander returned to English football in a loan spell with Norwich City last season but failed to save the Canaries from relegation to the Championship.
He then took up an offer from his former club Brondby – making front page news in Copenhagen, where his first training session was televised by the club.
“Johan Elmander coming home after eight years has been a massive story over here for the last few weeks,” said Pedersen, the versatile front man who made 171 appearances for the Whites between 2001 and 2007, scoring 29 goals.
“He will now be one of the biggest players in the Danish League and he will want to do well, I’m sure, against Bolton.”