Sidenote: This was actually written in the immediate aftermath of the retained list being revealed, when my reaction was actually relevant, but I completely forgot that I'd written it! So without further a do, here's my belated reaction to the news that thirteen players will definitely be leaving the Macron Stadium this summer.
So Bolton Wanderers finally revealed their retained list after the 2014/15 season on Friday. All the names on the list were reluctantly expected by pretty much every Whites fan, but I still feel like it's still quite sad to see some certain names leave the club.
The list contained: Matt Mills, Craig Davies, Andy Lonergan, Jermaine Beckford, Keith Andrews, Georg Illiev, Chris Lester, Glenn Matthews, Carl Kennedy, James Ball, Kieran Nolan
What are our reactions to those players leaving then?
I guess we should get the two that everyone knew for absolute certain were leaving out of the way first - Beckford and Andrews. It was inevitable that both these players would be leaving this summer, they're both two of the highest earners in the squad and neither performed no where near well enough to warrant such high wages. Beckford's case is an extremely frustrating one. It could certainly be agued that Bolton never played to his strengths, but that doesn't excuse the complete lack of effort he seemingly had whilst playing for the club, especially when compared to how much he's put his heart and soul into playing for Preston North End. During his short loan spell at PNE he's scored 15 goals, including an amazing strike from the half way line in the Play Off Semi-final, where as he only managed a measly eleven goals in and half at the Macron.
Keith Andrews' tale is more of a sad one. Brought in by Owen Coyle upon the Whites' relegation to the Championship, it looked to be a very shrewd signing after Andrews had a stellar European Championship campaign with the Republic of Ireland. But in three years he only played 29 times for Bolton, in which he was never particularly good, with his time at the club being ridden with injury and frustrating loan spells. It's a shame it never worked out for Keith, but hopefully he can go back to the club he loves and enjoy the rest of his career.
The player who scored the first goal of the Neil Lennon reign and captained the side for the vast majority, Matt Mills, is probably the biggest name to be departing the club come the end of June. Mills leaves the club after probably his best season here, his form deteriorated towards the end but who's didn't? and for 3/4s of the season he was an absolute rock at the back, and deservedly picked up the armband upon Jay Spearing's departure. My feelings on Mills leaving are very mixed. On one hand I agree, he was probably on too much money and his persona often held connotations of him being quite egotistical, not to mention the incidents with younger players at the club which other supporters picked up on. And despite his considerable improvement this season, he could still drop some absolute clangers and make utterly stupid mistakes. But yet, I liked Mills, he cared for the club, he's the only real leader we have and the best centre back too.
Craig Davies was perhaps the most surprising name on the list for may people, but I fully understand why Lennon has opted to let him go. When he was on form and fit he was unreal for Bolton, he led the line like a warrior, combining his strength and his pace to terrorise defenders and score some vital goals. But he was plagued by hamstring injuries only managed to start three games for Bolton in 2015. With Lennon working under such limited funds, he can't afford to spend wages on a player who is simply injured too much. It may be unlucky for Craig, but we can't constantly bemoan the amount of injuries we get whilst giving contracts to player we know are injury prone. I'm sad to see him go, but it is the right course of action. I'm happy that in his last ever game for Bolton he was an absolute beast and scored two outstanding goals.
I think this season has been a little harsh on Lonergan. I've often been a loud voice in saying that he isn't the best goalkeeper at the club, but at the same time I've always appreciated just how good his run of form in the first team was. He made some absolutely sensational saves this season and god knows where we would have been with out him. He's always been a good shot stopper, but in that run of form he improved every other aspect of his game and became an excellent 'keeper. But it was only a run of form, and those silly mistakes, weak punches and uncertainty slowly crept back into his game. I do wish Lonergan had have stayed, he's a brilliant second choice goalkeeper, but I think he deserves to play first team football somewhere.
Now we reach the youngsters. Nothing too surprising to be honest. The most notable departures are Luke Woodland, Chris Lester and Georg Illiev. Whilst it's always sad to see youngsters go and I really would have loved to see them all push into the first team, they're obviously just not quite good enough. However, I do wish that we'd have got to see more of Woodland and did hope that he'd be given another chance to show his worth at the club.
I, on be-half of everyone at Lion of Vienna Suite, wish all the departing players the bets of luck in all their future endeavours, and I especially thank the more senior players for all the memories.
What are your thoughts on the players the club have chosen to let go of? Let me know in the comments below.