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Bolton Wanderers 2016/17 - An Alternative Timeline of Events

What if Holdsworth had managed to get what he wanted?

Newcastle United v Bolton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Picture this.

Sports Shield took ownership of Bolton Wanderers in March 2016. Ken Anderson and Dean Holdsworth, in partnership, looked forward to a long and happy working relationship.

After sacking Neil Lennon and with the club unable to avoid relegation to the Championship, it was time for a difficult and potentially future-altering decision to be made - who would be the club's new permanent manager?

Anderson, a former agent, bowed to the knowledge of 'proper football man' Holdsworth who enjoyed a long and successful career on the field, in the search for this new gaffer.

Several names were bandied around. Nigel Adkins and Steve Cotterill were among the favourites, but instead Holdsworth, leading the hunt, chose a pairing who had Bolton at heart.

Step forward new manager Peter Reid, with ex-Wanderer Kevin Nolan as his assistant. The plan was that Nolan would learn under Reid - an experienced manager with Sunderland and Manchester City on his CV - until such a time that he was ready to take over himself.

It made perfect sense. Both knew the club and had its best interests at heart. More importantly, they would have the supporters onside from day one. Not an easy task when you have supporters such as we do.

So it was into pre-season that the pair led Bolton Wanderers. Anderson, controlling the purse strings, allowed Reid and Nolan to strengthen the squad. Utilising his contacts in the game, Reid's first buy was ex-Blackburn Rovers striker Nathan Delfouneso. Despite a poor goalscoring record in his career to date he was seen to have the necessary attributes to support Zach Clough and Gary Madine.

Linked with moves to sign Sheffield United's Mark Howard, instead the club decided to keep Ben Amos between the sticks which, given his large wage, was seen by some to be a gamble. However with his Manchester United pedigree in mind he was given the benefit of the doubt. The supporters wanted Jussi Jaaskelainen, but his wages proved a barrier.

Next to join the club was central defender David Wheater who was re-signed because of his 'passion' for Bolton Wanderers - something important to both Reid and Nolan. Millwall defender Mark Beevers was considered as a signing but he didn't have that same knowledge of the club. Beevers signed for Bradford City instead under the command of the experienced Phil Parkinson.

Wanderers faced Sheffield United at home in the first game. A 2-1 defeat was explained away by the new managerial team as being the first step in a larger journey as the team and staff learned to work with one another.

It would take until the fourth game for Wanderers to record a victory. A last minute own goal saw the club win 1-0 at home to Fleetwood Town.

There was support dissent at the poor start. Chairman Anderson left the PR to Holdsworth who reassured fans:

"Both Peter and Kevin have the club's best interests at heart. We have full faith in their abilities and their passion for Bolton Wanderers".

The apes and eggs on Twitter went wild. They loved it.

Throughout August and September we continued to struggle. Delfouneso failed to find the target until the 11th game of the season. Wheater was often injured and struggled to develop a partnership with Dorian Dervite, whilst Josh Vela continued to struggle at right back.

Holdsworth, however, seemed to be able to deflect any criticism that came his way. His continued referral to his time at the club quietened many a debate.

October saw a minor revival with two wins from five, although a 0-0 draw away at Bury disappointed many. November was equally up-and-down, and Wanderers found themselves in 15th place staring up the table at runaway leaders Bradford City who had inflicted a decisive 3-0 win over Bolton at the Reebok in late September.

As Christmas approached, there was very little festive cheer in the air as Reid and Nolan faced more criticism from the terraces. Wins against Millwall and Coventry City had stemmed the tide, but certain sections of the fanbase clamoured for change.

Despite this, Holdsworth begged for patience.

So it was that with a home game against Gillingham on the horizon, some fans thought that we should be looking to replace the managerial duo. Several names were floated as being the right man to come in. Tony Mowbray? Gordon Strachan? Alan Curbishley? One respected Bolton blog suggested Phil Parkinson who was himself doing so well with table topping Bradford - would he leave for Bolton? Surely it would be a step up.

So, in this long-winded and unnecessarily over-worded way, I'm trying to get the point across that yes, there may be some doubts about Ken and his overseeing of the club - but there are elements for which we should be appreciative.

Reid and Nolan?

Come on Deano, do us a favour.