We've been waiting all week for this day. Bolton Wanderers have released the retained list, which should probably be called the Players Leaving List, and now we have a better idea of the squad, the holes that Owen Coyle will have to fill, and what the club has to work with going into the Championship. The list contains a lot of youth players who never made an impact on the team that much, and some older players who probably were on their way out anyway. But there are also some real losses in there, but sentimentally and purely football wise. Without further ado...
Players out of contract (11):
- Gretar Steinsson
- Paul Robinson
- Sean Davis
- Robbie Blake
- Ricardo Gardner
- Ivan Klasnic
- Mark Connolly
- Tope Obadeyi
- Rhys Bennet
- Dino Fazlic
- Tom Eckersley
Players Returning to Parent Club (3):
Players On Release Clause (1):
That's a lot to take in. Losing 15 players in one fell swoop would be a blow for any club. This coming season would have been a good opportunity to give some of the youth a chance, but it is understandable that they would want to leave. By my count 5 of the 15 were youth players who had yet to make a proper impact on the squad, and it would be a push to consider them a real loss. Another 6 are players who were either perennially injured, getting on in years, or in poor Bibi Gardner's case, both, and therefore probably a smart offload. Of the remaining 4, 2 were loanees and always going to leave.
That leaves Ivan Klasnic and Nigel Reo-Coker as the only 2 real losses this season. Klasnic, as we wrote when he announced his departure on his official website, the loss of his goals will be keenly felt, but after 3 years, this may be a good time to say goodbye. As for Reo-Coker, he really stepped up in the midfield, something desperately needed in the absence of Stuart Holden. He by no means had a perfect season, but with the possible exception of Adam Bogdan, no Bolton player can boast that.
Coyle said on the subject:
"I was clear with Nigel. I asked him straight away whether he wanted to stay and be a part of what we are going to do next season. He was honest and up front with us, because that is the type of man he is, and said that he wanted to exercise the clause in his contract, and so we wish him well."
He also said on the exodus in general:
"I would also like to thank the players that are leaving the club for their work at Bolton Wanderers. We wish them all well.
"One of those is Ricardo Gardner, who has been with the football club for 14 years. He has offered incredible service to Bolton Wanderers and I'd like to personally thank him for all of his efforts, particularly during the time I have worked with him."
Bibi is probably the player that I personally am most sad about saying goodbye to. Other than Kevin Davies and Jussi Jaaskelainen, he was the last player left of the Bolton generation I originally fell in love with when I began following football. Seeing his dreadlocks fly down the pitch at the Reebok is one of my earliest footballing memories, and out of sentimentality I will miss him dearly. He has served the club well for 14 years, and if anyone deserves a testimonial, Bibi does.
Best of luck to Bibi and all of the Wanderers we lost today.