Upon arriving last season, Neil Lennon was particularly active with loan deals as Ben Amos, Paddy McCarthy, Adam le Fondre and Barry Bannan were among players to feature for Bolton in the second half of last season. Lennon's predecessor Dougie Freedman was also a frequent user of the loan system and often led to permanent signings during the Scot's reign including friend of the site Neil Danns and Twitter's own Rob Hall.
Whilst these signing have added strengths to the Wanderers squad when introduced, just how effective is the loan system for the long-term success of Bolton Wanderers and when should Bolton loan, or not loan?
You don't need me to tell you that money is tight, literally every other Lion of Vienna Suite post includes some dour rant about the tight purse afforded to the club as Eddie Davies looks to part ways. The Championship continues to get stronger and stronger as foreign investment coupled with the decline of the Scottish Premier League has meant clubs are continuously improving. Bolton need to do the same but unfortunately it is tricky on the budget.
Bolton even struggle to compete in the free-transfer market as wages often mean players go as well, even dropping down a division to play for Wigan Athletic. Loans have allowed Bolton to field competitive sides on a weekly basis the signings of Barry Bannan and Adam le Fondre particularly allowed Bolton to move away from danger.Loans have also allowed Bolton to build adequate rapport with players they may well want to sign, if finances were different, le Fondre would be a Bolton player no doubt and new number one Ben Amos' settling in period was already past him before he began the season as the favoured Wanderers goalkeeper. Prince also seems to be a very good acquisition and his popularity with the Bolton fans should help when it comes to making the deal permanent at the end of the season.
It doesn't always work out though, Manchester United youngster Saidy Janko came in on similar terms but has found himself at Celtic as Adam Mathews' replacement. Liam Trotter and Rob Hall have also struggled since making their respective loan deals permanent. The problem with loans is simple, there's no long term plan. It is completely re-active and often benefits the parent club more as either we spend our time giving their young players experience over our own or getting their 2nd string off their wage bill so they can continue to improve their own squads.
Now don't get me wrong, I am sure the Neil Lennon and Dougie Freedman alike would prefer a line-up of Bolton's own players infused with young talent from our heavily invested academy but whilst the talent is beginning to seep through, we are not at that stage yet. I am of the opinion that Neil Lennon went into this season seeing how things went before dipping into the loan market.
The lack of goals have been an issue and this is where I expect to see our next move in terms of loans. It has been reported that Neil Lennon has failed in an attempt to bring Anthony Stokes in on loan and there have been a host of forwards linked with the Whites, including Northern Ireland goal-hero Kyle Lafferty, although personally I cannot see that one happening.
Either way, loans have become an important part of Bolton Wanderers immediate agenda. As a regimented pragmatist I can't help but support the idea we need a strong XI as possible for every game and that means we will have to be active in the loan market.