IT is entirely fair to say the last 10 years will not be regarded as the best in Bolton Wanderers’ history.

From an FA Cup semi-final catastrophe to relegation from the Premier League under Owen Coyle just a year later, Bolton’s fairytale story quickly devolved into a nightmarish tale.

The gamble to bounce straight back under Dougie Freedman failed – leaving an unsustainable economy and when long-time benefactor Eddie Davies finally stepped aside, the club quickly slid to the third tier of English football for the first time since the early nineties.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom. Phil Parkinson’s side gained promotion at the first time of asking and there were signs that Wanderers were ready to get back on an even keel.

But with new owner Ken Anderson unable to find the resources to take the club forward – or find someone who could – the troubles quickly set in once more. After one last-gasp escape ensured a second season of Championship football the real horrors unfolded as unpaid wages and debts finally caught up with Anderson and the club hurtled towards administration.

Hours from liquidation, the Football Ventures consortium took the reins and installed Keith Hill as the new manager, with a brief to mend bridges and restore fortunes.

Here, we look at the players and managers who went on the journey from Wembley to the edge of extinction and ponder which deserve a place in our representative team?

The chief criteria is that each must have featured in 30 first team games between January 1, 2010 and time of writing.

The first category up to debate is... The managers.

The Bolton News: Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle previews his side's Premier League match against Swansea.


MANAGING Bolton Wanderers has been an extreme experience of highs and lows over the last decade.

Each of the four men who sat in the hotseat before current incumbent Keith Hill experienced a positive start, working towards a definitive moment where, alas, it all went wrong.

Ex-Burnden Park striker Owen Coyle took the job just eight days into the new decade and got off to a fine start, employing a more attack-minded brand of football and a charm which had seen him pegged as one of the rising touchline talents during a successful spell at Burnley.

Coyle had success in the loan markets, bringing in formative talents like Jack Wilshere, Daniel Sturridge and Rodrigo, and made some astute signings – Stuart Holden, Marcos Alonso and David Wheater among them.

But a memorable 3-2 victory against Birmingham City in the FA Cup quarter-final proved the high point for the Scot, who saw his side – now missing the injured Holden – hammered 5-0 at Wembley by Stoke City.

Relegation followed the next season, a campaign flecked with more bad luck and some questionable decisions in the transfer market, where the run of quality loans had run dry.

Big sums were spent on David Ngog, Marvin Sordell and big contracts were offered in an effort to escape the Championship at the first attempt. The gamble failed – and Coyle was sacked after his team was beaten at Millwall in October 2012.

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Another young manager feted as the next big thing after his work at Crystal Palace, Dougie Freedman brought much-needed organisation to the Wanderers camp. For all his foibles, a solitary goal from Leicester City was all that prevented the former Scotland international from taking Bolton into the play-offs, seven months after his stepped through the door.

Failure to beat Blackpool on the final day of the season proved costly, and a fractious relationship with the Whites fans was never repaired. As financial issues began to kick in for owner Eddie Davies, less money was made available for signings and the team’s fortunes steadily eroded over the next 12 months.

Freedman did shell out £1.5m for Jay Spearing and signed Lukas Jutkiewicz on loan. Had he landed the Middlesbrough striker the following summer a very different story may have unfolded.

It was an unhappy time at Bolton, however, and internal arguments were constant, not least over the treatment of club legend Kevin Davies – effectively frozen out for the final few months.

Results deteriorated dramatically in Freedman’s final season, culminating with a 4-0 defeat at Fulham in October 2014, which cost him his job.

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Neil Lennon picked spirits up immediately on his arrival at Wanderers, a few months after he had quit a trophy-laden job at Celtic to earn a shot in English football.

Charismatic, passionate, the Northern Irishman seemed a good fit for a club on its haunches – but after a summer which saw him strongly linked with the Leicester City post, Lennon was left high and dry by Bolton’s plummeting financial position.

Lennon brought in some big names – Eidur Gudjohnsen for a second spell, Shola Ameobi, Emile Heskey, Barry Bannan – but his confrontational side caused problems and tabloid revelations about his private life proved unsavoury, leaving the team to sleepwalk towards relegation.

Off the pitch, Wanderers were in a delicate position as Ken Anderson and Dean Holdsworth bought the club from Eddie Davies – and Lennon proved ultimately dispensable as the club sat 11 points from safety with nine games to go.

The Bolton News: Phil Parkinson (Manager) (Bolton Wanderers) before the Pre-Season Friendly match between Bolton Wanderers and Preston North End at the Macron Stadium.

With Bolton in a state of disarray, Phil Parkinson’s defection from Bradford, who had just lost out in the play-offs, raised eyebrows the following summer.

Parkinson added stability and achieved promotion in his first season despite being saddled by a restrictive transfer embargo and competing against a boardroom war between the two new owners.

Bolton held on to Championship status by their fingernails with a 3-2 victory over Nottingham Forest on the last day of the 2017/18 season but his final full season was wrecked by financial issues, player strikes and ultimately, relegation back to the third tier as the club went into administration.

Parkinson’s brand of football was seldom popular but his professionalism was respected in what proved one of the darkest chapters in Bolton’s history.

He resigned in August shortly before Wanderers were taken over by the Football Ventures consortium.

The shortlist for Wanderers’ manager of the decade: Owen Coyle Dougie Freedman Neil Lennon Phil Parkinson