EX-WANDERERS midfielder Alan Thompson says former manager Bruce Rioch was “different class”.

Thompson joined the Whites from Newcastle in the summer of 1993 and went on to spend five years in the north west.

The midfielder admits it was a tough decision to leave St James’ Park but felt he needed to make the move in search of regular playing time.

He recalled how Rioch’s management helped him overcome a difficult start to life at Bolton.

“I just thought at the time, I was 18 or 19, I wanted to go and play,” Thompson told Under the Cosh podcast.

“I knew Colin Todd from the north east, his son was the same age as me. He’d mentioned me to Bruce Rioch and I fancied it, so that was how the move came about.

“I was in and out (of the team) at first - Bruce had a really good team so it took me a bit of time to settle.

“I lived on my own, got in a bit of bother. Bruce being the kind of manager he was, he wasn’t happy. He got my dad down for a chat and moved me into digs.

“It took a bit of time to settle but once I found my feet it was great. Smashing club.”

Thompson was part of the side that won the First Division play-offs and also reached the League Cup final in 1995.

The midfielder has fond memories of the season and insists Rioch was vital to their success.

He added: “It was a good time. Bruce was different class. We weren’t an out-and-out football team, we were fit, we had good players.

“We could play, don’t get me wrong. You don’t win (promotion) without being a decent team, but he had us fit.

“He had a good mixture of senior players – (John) McGinlay, Mixu Paatelainen – and he had good younger lads like (Alan) Stubbs, Jason McAteer, myself. So it was a good combination and it’s no coincidence we were successful at that level.

“Maybe the Premier League was probably a step too far for us. But it was a great time, great period in the club’s history.”