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Holding Back Zach: Freedman's Biggest Crime?

We have a new hero, but he's not new to everyone....

Paul Thomas/Getty Images

So the news is out, and Bolton Wanderers officially have a new superstar on their hands - Denton-born Zach Clough.

His amazing transformation from much-discussed prospect to genuine first-teamer has been rapid in it's progression, but for those in the know (hi Nicko!), it comes as no surprise whatsoever.

The name of Zach Clough has been bandied around the internetz for the past two seasons. A somewhat mythical figure who was doing well for the reserves, but whose time never seemed to arrive in the first team.

That was all supposed to change when Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside appointed Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman in the place of the outgoing Owen Coyle. Freedman came with a reputation as someone who was prepared to promote from within, and who often made noises about giving the lad his chance. It was April 2013 when he said this:

"He's been travelling with the team and in squads and you're going to see someone you really like when he gets on the pitch.

"I'm excited for you guys to see him because then you can start writing about it.

"Sometimes it's a crime in football just working with what you have got. I like working with someone like Zach - someone who you don't quite know what they've got, but it's something I like."

It's a shame that he didn't follow up his high praise with decisive action. After all, he's the manager who chose to give Rob Hall his Wanderers debut in a vital, must-win end of season game at home to Blackpool which ended in disaster.

It would take almost two further years for Clough to be given the chance that he clearly has deserved for some time. You can bet that he will find it a lot harder to get out of the team now that he has finally been given the starting place that so many have clamoured for.

We would have enjoyed a great many more of these, if nothing else:

Who knows where Clough will end up, but for me his progress is tinged with a certain amount of regret - that we didn't blood him as a raw 17 year old talent. He is still only nnnnineteen, but we have been deprived of his talents for two whole seasons.

Dougie Freedman's Bolton reign was a disaster, with very few positives to come of it. He's gone now, which is the main thing - you have to think that with his successor Neil Lennon's paucity of choice in terms of attacking options that Clough will be a firm fixture in the Wanderers starting line-up for the coming months.

I can't wait to see what he does on Wednesday against Liverpool's dodgy defence. He is the sort of fearless young man that we need in our side.

Against Wolves on Saturday he never once hid - he was always looking for the ball and the way that he shrugged aside the claims of more experienced colleagues to take the free kick showed a self-belief that will carry him far.