The Bolton News ran a couple of articles about it being the anniversary of Freedman’s demise last week. One of them asks how far Bolton Wanderers have come in that time.
Having not read the article but just seen the headline because I’m lazy and Wales vs Fiji was on if I repeat what was said then it is not my fault! It is however an interesting question to pose. So how far have Bolton come in the space of a year?
On the face of it the answer is not very far. We are only a couple of points off the bottom of the table which is where Freedman left us. But progress should not just be measured in results.
Yes football is a results based game and in the fullness of time Neil Lennon’s rein as Bolton manager will be judged based on results. But right now I think there are more important factors at play at Bolton.
Lennon’s appointment brought a feel good factor back to the club and made it relevant in the media again. Helped along by the signing of Eidur Gudjohnsen and Emile Heskey of course.
Lennon is still living off that to an extent. I don’t think anyone at the club would disagree with the idea that we really needed that. Under Freedman all hope and joy had been sucked out of the club but Lennon brought that back.
We also regained credibility from the manager. Gone are the days of Freedman’s rubbish in post-match interviews. Now we have at times even brutal honesty from the manager which is refreshing in nature.
He also brings so much passion. Lennon’s celebration of both our equaliser against Brighton and Hove Albion and our third goal against Queens Park Rangers show how much it means to his. Having a manager with a real passion for the club will hopefully help to continue a feel good factor around the club and a sense of pride even if times continue to be tough.
There is also the movement of young players on the conveyor belt. Under Freedman this seemed to grind to a halt with talented young players beginning to look for a way out. Under Lennon this has changed with a feeling that young players will get their chance when they are ready.
This is evidenced by Rob Holding, Zach Clough and Josh Vela to name just three.
This for a club in Bolton’s position with no money but a great academy is vital for the future of the football club. If Bolton are to begin to compete more in the Championship I have no doubt that home grown talent will play a major role in this.
Despite Bolton currently being sat in the relegation zone and Lennon’s winning record being worse than Freedman’s I would certainly judge Bolton Wanderers to be in a much healthier position than they were one year ago under the disagreeable Scot.