In different circumstances, he would be gone,' has become the classic line when discussing Neil Lennon who, whilst in charge of the Horwich side, has seen the clubs stature continue to decline. So the simple question remains, is it Lennon's fault and realistically could someone else have done better.
During Lennon's tenure, Bolton Wanderers have paid little or less in transfer fees. This certainly limits the options available to Lennon straight away as the top talents in the Championship continue to move to the richer sides in the league who are pushing for promotion. As simple as this argument may be it still carries huge weight. A recent example was the Fulham home game, as a battling whites' side were trying to hold on for a much-needed win. Unfortunately for Lennon and Bolton, Ross McCormack, who cost his club £11 million stepped up with a moment of brilliance.
Now don't get me wrong, I am sure Neil Lennon was aware to a degree of the financial issues at Bolton Wanderers but realistically do we think he would have taken the role if he knew that 8 months down the line, he would be losing transfer targets to the likes of Wigan Athletic.
Further to this, last season, Lennon was given room in the loan market, probably to entice him to the job in the first place, and the Northern Irishman was reasonably successful as players such as the talented Barry Bannan and the experienced Paddy McCarthy aided the Wanderers cause.
In the summer however, Bolton dramatically moved the goalposts for Lennon as the former Celtic manager was forced to shop in an even more restricted market. This led to frankly below-requirement signings. Anyone genuinely think that Neil Lennon sprinted into the Wanderers boardroom to convince the esteemed Wanderers board members that they should break the bank to sign Gary Madine?
Yeah, OK mate.
This frustration in the transfer market has not been restricted slowly to incoming, Lennon has constantly had to deal with departing first-team stars in his relatively short reign. This is particularly evident with the departures of both Chung-Yong Lee and Adam Bogdan. Both were highly rated by Lennon and players he considered important to the Bolton he was trying to build.
Lennon has, despite ludicrous suggestions otherwise, been vital in establishing a real bridge between the first team and the Wanderers academy. The trio of Josh Vela, Rob Holding and Zach Clough all are given regular starting spots and Kayne Woolery is very much on the fringes. Tom Walker is also very much involved in the first team set up when fit. When was the last time a Wanderers starting XI contained three genuine academy graduates?
Certain outside influences have not helped Lennon's cause either, the irrelevant tabloid release regarding Lennon's private life left a large portion of the Wanderers support (who clearly have never done anything wrong in their lives) chastising the manager and calling for his head. Former Wanderer John McGinlay also suggested that he 'would do it for free' alongside iconic manager Bruce Rioch.
Lennon has also had his tactics questioned by some sections of the Wanderers support but given the players he is having to implement these ideas with now I'm not sure what we can reasonably expect.
If you think this is Lennon's fault, you're wrong.