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Zach Clough: Lennon's Greatest Success & Greatest Failure

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Chris has a think and comes up with some ideas

Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Zach Clough is a footballing noob.

He's been on the scene for approximately five minutes, yet he's already the hope of a generation of Bolton Wanderers fans living in a world without heroes. We haven't got much to hang our hats on, and so we've hung them on young Zach.

He's clearly an immensely-talented footballer, and one who has been a devoted servant of our beloved club since joining at the age of eight.

Having been an exciting prospect for so long, he was handed his Wanderers debut against local minnows Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup on 3rd January 2015, a game in which he dominated and scored a lovely goal to take the club forward in the competition.

Neil Lennon was rightly lauded for giving the lad his chance. It was about time, everyone said.

Clough went on to score another five goals that season, finishing on with a return of six goals in 10 outings. Neil Lennon was the provider. He enabled Clough to have that chance, and the lad took it with both hands.

Despite having his season finished early through injury, Clough was hyped in the papers as one to watch. Rumours spread of interest from Manchester United, and a £3m bid from Bristol City was swiftly accepted by the club and then rejected by the player.

Injury struck again in Clough's second season, and the player has returned just four goals in 16 games thus far. Clearly there are mitigating circumstances for this poor return, and the poor form that he is being criticised for.

So why are people starting to give him pelters? I think it's deeply unfair, and plain wrong.

I think Neil Lennon should shoulder some of the blame for this.

Last season, Clough was employed at the tip of the diamond, behind Adam Le Fondre.

Alfie was the perfect foil for Zach, stretching the play with his dynamic runs and allowing the academy lad space in which to thrive. That has gone this season. This season he's stuck with Gary Madine who, with the best will in the world, is fucking shit at football.

I'm not blaming Neil Lennon for not signing Adam Le Fondre, but he has set Bolton Wanderers up in a way that does not suit Zach Clough.

In my opinion, Clough would benefit a thousand times more from someone like *breathes deeply*....Liam Feeney up top. Feeney could stretch the play and allow Clough to enjoy the space that he did so much with Alfie.

Neil Lennon has tried to play Feeney up front, but he hasn't had the brains to employ Clough in the space that the runs leave behind.

It is, then, my contention that Zach Clough is Neil Lennon's greatest success - but also his greatest failure.

So thanks, Neil.