AS first days in the job go, Keith Hill and David Flitcroft could hardly have planned it better.

The new Bolton Wanderers management team oversaw the busiest transfer deadline day in the club’s history with an unprecedented nine signings, leaving fans looking at the League One campaign with renewed optimism.

Bolton, ranked by bookmakers at 100/1 ON for relegation just last week, have added genuine quality to virtually every position on the pitch, which surely gives them a fighting chance of achieving the impossible.

Manic Monday took a few hours to kick into top gear. The first signing of the Football Ventures era had been Jack Hobbs, who put pen to paper in time to feature at Gillingham on Saturday but yesterday’s drama began with the arrival of Thibauld Verlinden, the exciting young Belgian winger who joins on loan from Stoke City.

The 20-year-old began his career with Standard Liege but made his name in the youth ranks of Club Brugge earning a move to the Potteries – which was then home of a Premier League side.

Verlinden broke into the Potters’ senior side last season and made his league debut in a goalless draw with Reading. His jinking running style promises to be popular on the terraces, who can hark back to the days where David Lee used to rule the touchline in similar fashion.

Liam Bridcutt was the next through the door. The Nottingham Forest midfielder has a fine CV in Championship football and his appearance in League One raised eyebrows, to say the least.

A strong runner who was integral in Brighton’s rise to the Premier League, the Scotland international joins on loan until January, when Wanderers will most likely assess their options in the transfer market.

The face of Will Buckley is hardly new to Bolton supporters – but nevertheless they will be hoping the 29-year-old can reinvent himself somewhat under Hill, who gave him his big break in football at Rochdale.

Although Buckley’s running and work-rate made him an important part of Phil Parkinson’s side in the first year back in the Championship, his confidence ebbed significantly in the last 12 months and it will be down to the new management team to rediscover the player who, like Bridcutt, helped pave Brighton’s path to the big time.

Experienced centre-back Jake Wright was next up. He helped Chris Wilder’s Sheffield United out of League One ahead of Bolton in 2016/17 but had found himself on the fringes over the last 12 months.

A tough Yorkshireman with close to 500 career appearances, Wanderers will be hoping he can forge a partnership with Hobbs at the heart of a defence which has looked wet behind the ears in the opening few weeks of the campaign.

Signing number five went under the radar for most of the day. Scottish winger Ali Crawford had made a bright start to his time at Doncaster Rovers following a move from Hamilton Academical but found himself out of the reckoning when Darren Moore was appointed at the Keepmoat in the summer.

Primarily a left-footer, his arrival was further proof that Hill intends to bring back the wide men in the same way he did at Spotland – which might just be music to the supporters’ ears.

Chris O’Grady made it half a dozen, making Wanderers the 17th club of an extensive career. He had earlier in the afternoon terminated the remainder of his contract with League One Oldham Athletic – but while the journeyman striker wasn’t necessarily the name on which to sell season tickets, fans will need little reminder of how a similarly-styled Aaron Wilbraham left an indelible mark on Bolton not too long ago.

The quest for goals this season has been a difficult one, and Wanderers have now gone a record 10 games without scoring. Who knew that they would then recruit the man who last put the ball in the back of the net for them?

Ipswich defender Josh Emmanuel unfortunately put through his own goal in injury time back in April, in a 2-1 victory for the Tractor Boys which effectively spelled relegation for their embattled opponents. Five months later the right-back terminated his contract at Portman Road to sign with Bolton until the end of the season.

After Emmanuel had made it magnificent seven, the confirmation of another full-back, Joe Bunney, made it an eighth wonder.

Having previously played under Hill at Rochdale, the Manchester-born defender ripped up the remainder of his contract with Northampton Town to return to the North West and fill what has been a problematic spot.

The last signing of the day was arguably the biggest name of all. Striker Daryl Murphy may now be 36 but he still scored six times in 32 appearances for Nottingham Forest last season.

He retired from international duty with Ireland in 2018 in an effort to prolong his club career, which has taken him to big names like Celtic, Sunderland and Newcastle United in the last decade.

If Hill employs the same sort of tactical system he played at Rochdale then Murphy will most likely be asked to lead the line and allow attacking midfielders like Verlinden, Buckley, Crawford and existing options like Ronan Darcy and Dennis Politic to get around him.

While the new boss will be in the building for tomorrow night’s Leasing.Com Trophy match against Bradford City, he is not expected to be in the dugout.

Jimmy Phillips has been asked to take the game and pick from a similar squad to the one had had at Priestfield on Saturday.

The game may be viewed as a last hurrah for the young players who have earned plaudits for stepping up in Wanderers’ hour of need. They will take a step back in an effort to continue their progression in the Under-18s and 23s now knowing the levels they must reach to get that opportunity again.

Although the arrival of nine senior players was celebrated yesterday, many Wanderers fans will hope to see those youngsters in a Bolton shirt again, a little older and wiser. Hill and Flitcroft’s managerial CV suggests they are not frightened of giving youth a chance.

It seems strange to think that at this stage of last week the very existence of Bolton Wanderers was in doubt. Now, we look forward to a new chapter with a degree of optimism and realistic expectation.