This weekend, the Daily Mirror published a report saying that Bolton Wanderers were interested in signing Manchester United's Wilfired Zaha on loan. The story has a lot about that makes sense, namely that Zaha is currently unused at United and he has plenty of experience with the Wanderers boss but whether it will actually happen is pretty doubtful. One of the things that stands in the way of the move is the fact that moves from Manchester United to Bolton Wanderers just don't happen.
Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of players that have played for both Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers over their careers including the likes of Chris Eagles, Alan Gowling, and Peter Beardsley, among others, but the list is short. If you're looking at players who have moved directly from Manchester United to Bolton Wanderers, unlike the aforementioned names that had stops in between, the list gets even shorter.
Quinton Fortune was the last player to make that move, joining Wanderers from United in the summer of 2006, ahead of the 06/07 campaign under Sam Allardyce. At that point, Fortune had seven years at United, making over 75 appearances, before being released by the Reds. After a trial at Bolton Wanderers, he was signed on a one year deal. After making the move, he spoke to Bolton's website, waxing lyrically about the Trotters under Big Sam:
"The methods put into practice here are at a technologically-advanced stage and that is something that interests me I have been impressed with the planning and preparation I encountered during the summer.
"There was interest from other teams but once I gained a full picture of the Bolton way there was no other club I wanted to sign for.
"For me, that was the most important thing and it was a very easy decision.
"My aim was to get fit throughout the close season to give myself the chance of securing a contract with a top side and I'm delighted it has worked out at Bolton."
Of course, it didn't work out at Bolton. Fortune made six appearances for the Trotters before getting hurt in a match against Arsenal, ultimately ending his season save for one cup match later on. He was released at the end of that campaign.
Before Fortune came Nickey Spooner, who joined Bolton in 1989 from United, making just 29 appearances (and suffering a horrific broken leg injury) in nine years with Wanderers. Spooner never played a match for United's senior team though, having been released from the Red Devils' academy at the time he joined Bolton.
Before Spooner was Tony Dunne. The defender left Manchester United ahead of the 1973/74 season on a free after making 414 appearances for the side. Dunne still holds the seventh-most appearances in Manchester United's history after spending 13 years there. He ended up behind Ryan Giggs, Bobby Charlton, Bill Foulkes, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville and Alex Stepney in that appearance count.
Dunne moved to Bolton for that 1973/74 season, helping the Trotters lift the Second Division title just five years later. He stayed at Bolton for one more season after that, having made about 170 appearances for the Whites before moving to the NASL's Detroit Express for one year.
Before Dunne was John ball, who joined Bolton Wanderers in 1950 after two years at Manchester United. Ball only appeared just over 20 times for United but would put in over 200 appearances for Bolton over the eight years that he spent in a white shirt.
Four names from 1950 on made the move directly from Old Trafford to Bolton, be it Burnden Park or the Reebok Stadium. That's it. There are old club rivalries that still exist between the two despite them very clearly operating on different planes and, currently, in different leagues. For the sake of comparison, Bolton have acquired nine players from Manchester City from 1981 on and nine players from Liverpool in that same stretch of time.
It sounds as though another one may be a pretty big ask.