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The Curious Case of Marvin Sordell

What went wrong?

Sordell, seen here scoring against Charlton, who he later joined on loan
Sordell, seen here scoring against Charlton, who he later joined on loan
Ben Hoskins

Marvin Sordell was born in Pinner, London, in 1991.

He spent time as a youngster at the academies of both Fulham and Watford, before joining the latter and turning professional in 2008, and making his professional debut for the club in August 2009 in a 0-2 away defeat against Sheffield United.

Sordell established himself as a regular in the Watford first team in the 2010/11 season, making 42 league appearances and scoring 12 goals. The following season he would again top the club's scoring charts with 10 goals in 26 games before moving to Bolton Wanderers in January.

Then-Bolton boss Owen Coyle completed the £3m deal on the final day of the 2012 Transfer Window, with Sordell signing a three-and-a-half year contract with the Wanderers. He made his debut on 4 February when coming on as a substitute for David NGog in Bolton's game at Norwich City, though would go onto make two further substitute appearances that season as Wanderers suffered relegation against Stoke City in the final game of the season.

As the 2012/13 season began, Sordell (and Bolton fans) were eager to see what he could do. He started the first three games of the 2012-13 season and scored his first goal for the club on 24 August 2012, in a 2-2 draw at home to Nottingham Forest.

He had to wait until January for his next goal, which came at the Reebok in an FA Cup tie with Sunderland. He would go on to score both goals in a 2-0 Bolton victory. Despite his goals, Sordell was then dropped for Bolton's next league game.

In his next appearance, he netted again with a neat low finish against Everton in a 2-1 loss. The following game he was rewarded with a start, against his old club Watford, and scored a penalty in another 2-1 loss. He finished the season with 26 appearances and eight goals.

A regular for England U21s, Sordell was also named in Stuart Pearce's 18-man Great Britain squad for the 2012 London Olympics, for whom he made three appearances without scoring.

In a surprise move, Sordell would be loaned to fellow Championship outfit Charlton Athletic, scoring his first goal for the club against Huddersfield Town in the League Cup.

Sordell's time at Bolton Wanderers was eventful, to say the least. Initially, fans were mystified as to how a new and exciting £3m striker could see so little game-time. His three Premier League appearances for the club failed to yield a goal as he was given a few minutes here and there, usually when Bolton were chasing a goal.

The arrival of new manager Dougie Freedman in October 2012 was meant to bring about a fresh start for the Londoner, but instead it appeared that relations between the new boss and the striker became somewhat frosty. In January 2013 Freedman spoke to the press about Sordell's 'addiction' to social media, especially his Twitter account.

"It has been quite a move for him and he's not quite settled," the manager said. "There have been small issues off the field with his tweeting, let's not hide, and we're trying to deal with it.

"It could be bordering on an obsession with Twitter and Facebook and all the things that go on with these kids."

There had been occasions when Sordell had responded to supporters who, on social media, had expressed displeasure with some lacklustre performances, and obviously the new manager was unimpressed. He often spoke in the press about Sordell's apparent homesickness being a problem.

Sordell suffered on the pitch, too. When Bolton faced Millwall earlier in the 2012/13 season, he reported an incident of alleged racist abuse against a Millwall supporter which again led to him receiving abuse online including one incident where a photo was posted depicting Sordell being shot by a gun.

The deal to take Sordell to Charlton allowed Bolton and Freedman to make space on the wage bill to bring in his former Crystal Palace man Andre Moritz.

Sordell's time at Bolton was troubled, but it appears that he has found life no easier back in his home city. To date he has scored just the one goal for Charlton, back in August, and has again found himself the subject of anger from his own supporters, again down to a perceived lack of effort on his part in games.

Sordell still has another year on his Bolton contract, and whilst a permanent deal to join Charlton may not be in the offing it is likely that he will return to the Reebok at the end of the season.

The £3m deal to sign him from Watford included add-ons and incentives, but the reported £1.5m downpayment made by the club will either have to be written off or Bolton will have to take a substantial loss, as it is very difficult to envision him playing for the team again.

Dougie Freedman has been vocal in the press this week about finally having the squad mentality that he always wanted at the club. Sordell's perceived attitude and substandard performances have always drawn criticism from Bolton supporters and it isn't hard to link the two together.

Once the fans have made their mind up about a player then there are very few examples of this being overcome, on either side.

Sordell clearly has ability, he has scored goals for club and country - but questions can, rightly, be asked about the move to Bolton and whether it was right for the player or for the club. We all hope that he can have a successful career but it is unlikely to be at Bolton Wanderers.

The social media aspect of Sordell's life seems to show a man who perhaps does not have football as his primary objective in life. His charity work is admirable, but those looking to find fault in him do not have to look far. Indeed his description of himself on one website includes the 'job' titles:

Pro Athlete. Entrepenuer. Creative Mind. Kitchen Magician. Team Cheeks. Co-owner @ShopEitherside. For media/commercial

It might be an idea for him to concentrate on the first one.

Club Season League FA Cup League Cup Other Total
Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Watford 2008-09 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wealdstone (loan)
5 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 7 2
Tranmere Rovers (loan)
8 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 1
Watford 2009-10 5 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 6 2
2010-11 42 12 2 2 2 1 0 0 46 15
2011-12 26 8 2 1 1 1 0 0 29 10
Bolton Wanderers
3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0
22 4 3 4 1 0 0 0 26 8
Watford total 73 21 4 3 4 3 0 0 81 27
Bolton Wanderers total 25 4 3 4 1 0 0 0 29 8
Career totals 111 28 7 7 5 3 2 0 125 38