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Bolton Wanderers 2013 Year in Review-Liam

Bolton Wanderers came into 2013 after a particularly disappointing 2012 which saw the club relegated from the Premier League and the sacking iconic former-player Owen Coyle to be replaced by Crystal Palace rookie manager Dougie Freedman. With the gap between the two leagues growing every year, it is seen by many to be imperative to get back up there again. I will look at the year 2013 and give you my thoughts on what it has meant for Bolton Wanderers.

2013 Can only be seen as a failure, perhaps even worse than being relegated
2013 Can only be seen as a failure, perhaps even worse than being relegated
Stu Forster

1. Best player: This question bothered me for some time as I felt there is not one player who has consistently performed over the full year. I decided to break the year into two obvious parts, this then became much easier.

During the latter part of last season, Craig Dawson was perhaps the most integral part of our push for promotion. The on-loan centre-back not only solidified a defence that was leaking goals at an alarming rate but also added goals from set pieces, which the Wanderers had lacked since selling Gary Cahill 12 months earlier.

As for the current season, there have been two stand out players, both of whom would have been eagerly off loaded by the Wanderers over the summer. Matt Mills and Tim Ream have formed a very good partnership at centre-back and seem to compliment each other perfectly. The brawn of Mills mixed with the flair of Ream, who I firmly believed to be the worst player I had seen play for Bolton, have been a real positive so far this season.

2. Best Goal & Best celebration: It has not been a year of great goals for BWFC but the best in my opinion was Chris Eagles late strike against Blackburn Rovers which sent the Reebok Stadium into absolute pandemonium as the stakes were particularly high. The late goal kept Wanderers on track for the Play-Offs whilst seemingly ending rivals Rovers charge. Tensions already seemed to be boiling in the stands and Chris Eagles 90-yard sprint to celebrate in front of his adoring Rovers fans only added to moment.

3. Best signing: I really wish I could name a permanent signing here, but I simply cannot. Bolton's best business in the transfer market has certainly come in the loan sector. I have already discussed the impact of Dawson so I will instead focus on our signings this season.

After Wanderers' worst start in 100 years, Dougie Freedman was desperate and turned to the loan market to try and turn our fortunes around. He made the triple loan signings of Liam Feeney, Kevin McNaughton and Neil Danns. All three have contributed well to the Wanderers cause.

Squad building appears to be a real weakness for Freedman. Failing to sign a left back on-loan to cover the injury of Marc Tierney has cost us points as it has seen Alex Baptiste deployed in a position he simply cannot play and teams have exploited this well. Most players Freedman would appear to be linked with are players he has formerly managed or played with personally which shows for me issues with networking, but what do I know.

4. Best Match: The game I enjoyed the most over the course of the year was the away game at Cardiff. The home team was in celebration mode following their successful campaign and the Wanderers were looking to solidify their position in the Play-Offs. The great day was added too in no small part by the hospitality at the Cardiff City Stadium. For all the mis-management they have been accused of I could not moan about a thing there.

5. Moment of Madness: Rob Hall starting against Blackpool was one of the worst decisions I have ever seen and I still cannot understand what Freedman was thinking. The cost for Bolton was immeasurable and we will never know the damage that did to young Hall's confidence after being hauled off during the first half, I'm still quite surprised he signed for us after that.

6. Most Memorable Moment: The unveiling of a beautiful statue of our Great Nat Lofthouse was a fantastic moment for the club and as fans we can be proud of the part we played in making this tribute to the great man.

7. Overview: Put simply, we have got worse. 2013 is certainly a year to forget for Bolton Wanderers with more lows than highs. Perhaps more worrying as a fan is the pure dullness that is a home match at Reebok Stadium. This needs to be addressed with some urgency.

There have been numerous failings on the pitch with a team that is rotated at pure random and then stuck with if successful. Freedman has struggled to get the best out of the more talented players in the squad, in particular Chris Eagles who has faded completely from the first team picture.