When news of a signing (with the who not yet having been announced) broke, fans were understandably excited. Their team had of course badly needed reinforcements in just about every area of the pitch with the defense and the attack particularly hurting. Then, the report that Bolton Wanderers have completed the signing of 30-year-old Leicester City midfielder Neil Danns on a short term loan was met with a resounding "meh" from the supporters.
The Danns signing is, at first glance, entirely uninspired, a bit boring, and somewhat unnecessary. After all, the midfield is easily the deepest part of this Bolton team with the likes of Jay Spearing, Medo Kamara, Tim Ream, Darren Pratley, Chris Eagles, Josh Vela, among others, all able to fit various roles in the center of the park. That sector of the squad is also far from having the most issues. After all, the strikers can't seem to find the back of the net, nor have they proven that they can create goals for the rest of the team. That's happening up front while, at the back, the defenders stand idly by as the ball slowly rolls past them and past a helpless Adam Bogdan into the back of the net. You cannot blame the fans for being a little perturbed that the signing doesn't address the two biggest problem areas.
The midfield isn't without it's issues though. Far from it, in fact. This was perhaps most evident in the loss at Blackburn Rovers just a few weeks ago as the Trotters were handily beaten in the midfield on just about every single forward advance. Errant passes in the center of the park cancelled almost every attacking opportunity that Bolton were presented with and instead put Blackburn immediately on the offensive, ending in what seemed like a goal more often than not.
Part of the issue has been the like-minded pairing of Spearing and Kamara in that both players are trying to do the same thing. The issues had been slightly alleviated with the introduction of Tim Ream, who offered a more defensive presence in the midfield that allowed Jay Spearing to play in a more advanced role but against Brighton, it all came crashing down in the span of four minutes.
What Wanderers have been missing this season is an attacking presence in the center of the park. While Chris Eagles and Chung-Yong Lee can offer forward motion on the wings, it's really been lacking in the middle with Darren Pratley not one to create opportunities. The pair of players who would be best-suited for that role, Mark Davies and Andre Moritz, are both injured, leaving the Trotters without any real creativity behind the lone striker.
Neil Danns isn't an inspiring name but he could be exactly what Bolton Wanderers need in the short term. He's a versatile central midfielder that can play in a more advanced role with a wealth of Championship experience. To date, he has nearly 200 appearances in this division with the likes of Crystal Palace (where he really made his name), Bristol CIty, Leicester City, and Huddersfield Town. Danns also has the ability to score the odd goal with 25 in seven years in the Championship.
What Wanderers need is a stabilizing force in the center of the park that can help create some chances. Hopefully Dougie Freedman has found the man for that.