Dougie Freedman made several signings in the summer of 2014, luminaries such as Dean Moxey and Owen Garvan. Suffice it to say, we don't really have to look at anyone he brought in as a candidate for this award. Since then, Neil Lennon has had a revolving door installed at the Bolton Wanderers training ground. Loans in, loans out, permanent signings in, permanent signings out, the man has cycled through an entire squad in a matter of months. 5 players stand out from this group. Which one is your signing of the season?
1) Eidur Gudjohnsen
If the award was for feel-good signing, or most popular signing, or even best pedigree, the vote would begin and end right here with our beloved Icelandic international. Everyone knows the glorious details of Eidur's first stay at the Reebok, but purely for fun, let's review. It was just two seasons, but the then 21-year-old showed immediately what kind of talent he was. He scored 21 goals in all competitions and led Bolton to the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Trotters would not get promoted, and were forced to sell Gudjohnsen to Chelsea for the cut-rate price of £4 million.
The sheer joy felt by the Wanderers community when Eidur returned almost 15 years later might be enough for him to win this award. But this return was far from ceremonial. He scored five goals in 17 league matches. And, almost inexplicably, the 36-year-old seemed to get better as the season wore on.
2) Emile Heskey
Neil Lennon wasn't done with adding legendary stalwarts to his side, and a few weeks later England and Liverpool legend Emile Ivanhoe Heskey was training with the squad. Lennon eventually offered the man a contract, and he took it. I suspect that the manager envisioned his aging strike force as weapons off the bench, players able to come in for the last 20 minutes and dominate tiring defenses. Unfortunately, a combination of injuries (Max Clayton, Craig Davies, Zach Clough) and apathy (Jermaine Beckford) forced Lennon to use Heskey and Gudjohnsen much more than he intended. Heskey scored in his debut, set up by Eidur. After that, the big man did what he does. Heskey has been criticized his entire career for the one-dimensional nature of his game. He does one, maybe two things well, and doesn't do anything else. Truth is, he filled the Kevin Davies role the same way he ha been since before it came to be called the Kevin Davies role.
3) Barry Bannan
The Scotland midfielder came over on a loan deal from Crystal Palace in January, and he was Bolton's most important player from that point on, with the exception of one wild night in the team hotel. Most supporters want him to come back next season, and I am sure Lennon shares their sentiment, even though it is unlikely we can afford him.
4) Adam le Fondre
Cardiff City were kind enough to send us a replacement when we broke Joe Mason, and it turns out that ALF was much better than the young hat-trick enthusiast. Le Fondre scored eight goals in 16 matches, which led the club and was the most prolific output we have seen in years from a forward. ALF is no Daniel Sturridge, but he had a similar impact to when we had that England international on loan a few seasons ago.
5) Neil Lennon
The obvious candidate does not ply his trade on the pitch, but right next to it. Not sure if he will win the vote, because that would mean giving credit to Phil Gartside for the decision, but there is no question Lennon will have the biggest long-term effect on the club's fortunes from all of the contenders. The results were mediocre at best, but the change to the atmosphere surrounding the club, combined with the extensive overhaul of the playing, coaching, training, and scouting staff show that the ginger man means business. Whether he knows what he is doing will become clear next season.
There you are, five candidates to choose from. Who is your signing of the season?