JAY Spearing and Matt Mills have been made captain and vice-captain of Wanderers, respectively, because Dougie Freedman has seen they “command respect” from the dressing room.
Taking on the mantle of official club skipper from Zat Knight, who left Wanderers this summer, Spearing joins an illustrious timeline that includes such leaders as Harry Goslin, Nat Lofthouse, Roy Greaves, Gudni Bergsson, Jay Jay Okocha and Kevin Davies.
Mills also completes his incredible career turnaround at Bolton by taking the vice-captain’s role, 12 months after he looked certain to be joining Leeds United.
Freedman says the choice was not an easy one, given some of the strong characters that emerged in the second half of last season, steadying a dressing room that once looked far from harmonious.
“I’ve changed things around a bit because when I came here there were some players who either didn’t want to be here, or they had their own agendas, financial or otherwise,” he told The Bolton News.
“They’d got the club relegated and they wanted to move on. I said that was fine but there were no takers. I kept my mouth closed because I didn’t want to be disrespectful.
“We’ve changed that group round now and I think there were five or six players I could have picked for the roles – Neil Danns, Tim Ream – people like that.
“But I felt that Jay Spearing and Matt Mills are a couple of guys that have been here right the way through, they know how it has been and they command that respect from the dressing room.”
Mills was singled out for special praise by Freedman, having rescued his Wanderers career last season.
“I think it’s crucial to talk about Matt because Jay is a younger guy, despite how he comes across on the pitch,” he said.
“Matt has been a captain before and I think he can help Jay because if it is affecting his game at all, he’s there to take a bit of pressure off him.
“He’s turned his career around. What happened with Matt is that the lack characters around him in the squad did not help him.
“He has worked very, very hard and listened to the right people. He’s reaping the rewards now.”