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@LufbraCraig's Look Back at Phil Gartside's Reign

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Guest writer returns with another review of the chairman's chairmanship

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I've wanted to write a balanced argument about Bolton Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside for a long time but this impulse has historically been brought about by seeing some unfair criticism laid at his door.

But now it seems the end is nigh for our long standing leader, so it is an appropriate time to look back and weigh things up.

For me... I can't decide what to think.

On the one hand, you've got a guy who was influential in the Reebok Stadium project, who guided us to the top and gave us the best 10 years in the club's modern history - what a party we had in the Premier League.

Yes, Big Sam was a huge part of that and yes they parted ways in acrimonious fashion, but Gartside was there throughout, by his side, doing things differently to other clubs.

On the other, there's the guy who didn't trust sam enough to let him buy Drogba for £5m the year before Chelsea got him for 4x the money (allegedly - Ed).

There's the guy who made a mockery of us by campaigning for an exclusive Premier League with no relegation.

And there's the guy who has been through one too many brown envelope sagas (be it Sam's family bungs or screwing over Gavin McCann's agent) to claim to be squeaky clean (allegedly - Ed).

Those down sides tarnish it for me and as a result I struggle to wholeheartedly support the man. But I do place a lot of weight in his love for the club and I look at some of the other chairmen around in football these days and thank heavens they're not in charge of my beloved club.

In terms of the 'debt', I do think he's partially responsible for allowing the club to run at such a loss for a prolonged period of time and have us end up in the current predicament. But if Eddie Davies is willing to put the money in then that's up to him. It would be a very different story if he'd allowed us to rack up a load of actual bank debt.

When it comes to appointing and sacking managers (probably the most important responsibility in his role), I think he gets really bad press from some horrendously fickle fans.

The only ones I can point to as obvious mistakes were Sammy Lee and Gary Megson but I'll take each post-Allardyce manager in turn:

- Sammy Lee was, and still is, a highly regarded and respected coach in the football community, and was an easy, cheap option at the time. I think it's worth bearing in mind that at the time of his appointment, Gartside hadn't been in the market for a manager for 8 years and had what football people were saying was a great option sat ready and waiting in the wings. And to be fair to Gartside he did act quite quickly to oust Lee when things clearly weren't working out.

- Next came, in my opinion, the real turning point. I'm going to say right now that I think Gary Megson is a total and utter penis. Bolton fans wanted the next appointment to be a statement of intent. We wanted the board to show us that we had higher ambitions than being that overachieving minnow destined to scrap every year until the inevitable relegation. Instead, we got a professional yo-yo man with zero charisma and ridiculous ginger hair.

One key difference that irked fans in the Megson era was that the ginger Mourinho seemed to receive the financial backing Sam always craved but never received, and it was at this point in time that our attitudes to spending apparently changed, with hindsight probably for the worse.

Our player trading has been atrocious since Allardyce left, and the 7m profit we made on Anelka. Admittedly Megson had an eye for a good player - he brought Mark Davies, Gary Cahill and Chungy to the club - but he also signed Elmander and paid £2m for Danny Shittu. DANNY SHITTU.

None of his signings left for a notable fee and wages continued to soar.

Ultimately, Megson took our disappointment at his appointment personally and always held it against the fans - a situation Gartside managed terribly and which ended on a horrible December evening against Phil Brown's Hull City.

- Next up, we have Owen Coyle. A club legend doing wonderful things in the premier league with that mucky club from down the road. In contrast to the previous managerial appointment, this was an overwhelmingly popular selection. Now people say Coyle couldn't build a back four but the first thing he did when he joined was make us hard to beat and we only stayed up in 2010 because he turned us into a solid unit.

However it's in his blood to play attractive football, and the next campaign was like a Shakespeare play - a thing of elegant beauty ending in tragedy. In my opinion that was our best year in the premier league. We were playing really nice football and getting the results that got us into the top 8.

...and then Johnny Ev*ns and the 5-0 Wembley thing happened. Tragedy.

This set in motion the downhill momentum that saw us relegated. I know 38 games is a long enough time to get sufficient points to stay up whatever the circumstances but I did feel sorry for Coyle.

His luck was terrible: Chungy gets a broken leg in pre season, holden's career is over, Muamba has a heart attack... and after dealing with all that, we still only get relegated on the final day of the season thanks to two completely illegitimate Stoke goals. He didn't adjust well to the championship and placed too much trust in the deadwood that got us relegated - eventually he was booted without much heartache from the fans, his legend status evaporated.

- The appointment of Dougie Freedman did make sense at the time, given our need to focus on youth development. Little did Gartside know that Dougie would abandon this stated policy and instead focus on signing Liam Trotter and Owen Garvan ahead of promoting the likes of Josh Vela...

Before all this however, it easily goes forgotten that Freedman actually had the best record of any championship manager in the 12/13 season.

His inspired signing of Craig Dawson saw us only miss out on a play off place on the final day of the season thanks to a 2-2 draw at home to Blackpool and a last minute goal for Leicester City at Nottingham Forest. At that point in time nobody could say a bad word about Freedman and Gartside's stock was high having plucked a budding young manager from a rival club.

I also think Lennon has been a relatively good appointment although his confusing team selections are becoming less tolerable as our current plight continues.

So in summary, Gartside has had a lot on his plate down the years and has had a real mixed bag. His decisions haven't always been perfect, but guess what, he's human, and at the end of the day his obvious passion for the club means he is one of us.

Whatever happens next I wish him well and thank him for his service to the club.