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Bolton Wanderers: Top 5 Most Disappointing Big-Money Signings

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We'll consider anything over a free transfer as being 'big money'

Michael Steele/Getty Images

Well I do like writing these Top 5 pieces. It gives me chance to wander down a Bolton Wanderers-y memory lane - sometimes it's a nice thing - such as the Top 5 Foreign Imports - but sometimes it's a road filled with the likes of Gerald Cid or Zat Knight.

Anyway, the latest in this series has involved me judging the Top 5 Most Disappointing Big-Money signings. As the promo blurb states, we'll consider anything over a freebie as being 'big money' for the purposes of this piece:

5) Matthew Taylor

Taylor, a darling of the Southern meejar, and a left-back who became a converted midfielder, was supposed to be a free kick and long-range goalscoring midfielder of some repute, joining from Portsmouth for £3.5m in the winter of Gary Megson's first season at Bolton Wanderers. A veteran of nearly 300 appearances for both Luton Town and Portsmouth he had been mooted as a possible England international at times, but looked completely lost at Bolton. He scored 23 goals in almost 150 appearances for the club, but you would be hard pressed to think that we extracted much by way of value-for-money before his move to join Sam Allardyce at West Ham United in 2011. Taylor never convinced in a hard-working Bolton side, showing a lack of willingness to put his foot into the tackle, and a poor relationship with supporters only exacerbated the problems he had in settling in. Following his time at West Ham, Taylor pitched up at Burnley and has again flattered to deceive.

4) Marvin Sordell

Signed by Owen Coyle for a huge £3m, the former Watford striker was allegedly on his way to sign for Cardiff City before making the switch to Bolton Wanderers. He barely played as the club struggled to avoid the drop, making just three appearances which belied the massive fee paid for his services. Back in the Championship he was similarly disappointing, with a return of only four goals in 25 appearances over two seasons interspersed with a loan spell at Charlton Athletic. A strange move to the Premier League with Burnley brought just one goal in 21 games before he was released in 2015 before moving to Colchester United in September of the same year. Bizarre.

3) Steve McAnespie

Scottish right-back McAnespie became our record signing in 1995 when he moved from Raith Rovers for a fee of £900,000. The club was relegated from the Premier League in his first season, where he made a dozen performances of an increasingly underwhelming nature. His career followed a similar trajectory - a move to Fulham failed to work out, before he moved back to Scotland with Partick Thistle before a spell in America, playing for the wonderfully named Orlando Shell Shockers, and eventually managing the Indiana Invaders - you know them, they play in the USL Premier Development League (PDL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, in the Great Lakes Division of the Central Conference.

2) David N'Gog

Someone who would have been a worthy winner of the top prize, Frenchman N'Gog signed for Owen Coyle's Bolton Wanderers in August 2011 for £4m - representing something of a bargain considering Bolton's previous bids had reached a total of £7m just six months earlier. A strange transfer target in the first place, the former Paris Saint Germain academy graduate had been at Liverpool for three seasons, scoring a mere 19 goals in 94 games. His record at Bolton was similarly pish, recording just 16 goals in 91 games before an ill-fated spell in the Premier League with Swansea City under Michael Laudrup. Now underperforming for Stade de Reims back in France he has disappeared back into the obscurity that he perhaps should never have left.

1) Johan Elmander

A lock for this position, the softly-spoken Swedish forward was Gary Megson's top target to replace the outbound Nicolas Anelka, and it was in the summer of 2008 that the club's transfer record was broken when Mr Gartside parted with £8.25m to allow Elmander to join from French side Toulouse. A goal on his debut was a false dawn, in fact during a three-year spell in the North West the 'striker' only registered 18 goals in nearly 95 appearances. Truly terrible. He moved to Galatasaray upon the expiry of his Bolton deal, where he failed with similar style and grace. A loan spell back in England with Norwich City yielded just one goal in 28 games before he moved back to former club Brondby. A cursory check of his progress there brings familiar results, spotting as I did that he has scored exactly two goals in 28 games. Truly the worst value for money signing in Bolton Wanderers history.