When Liam Feeney first arrived at Bolton Wanderers I was a little underwhelmed to put it lightly. We were in a bad place in the league and needed something to kick start our season and somehow a winger that Millwall didn’t seem to want did not seem to be the answer. I think this was a view held by many in the Bolton fan base who were underwhelmed by Dougie Freedman’s recruits.
But once Feeney got on the pitch that changed. His pace, direct running and willingness to take on an opposition defender won Bolton fans over. When Millwall then played hard ball recalling him from his loan spell early and demanding we pay for his services in January people were not happy. This was a situation not helped by him ending up at Blackburn Rovers on loan for the rest of the season.
When summer came around his contract at Millwall expired and he finally returned to Bolton. It may have taken six months too long but Bolton had landed their man on a free transfer rather than giving into Millwall’s demands.
Another poor start to the season followed and this time Freedman lost his job with Neil Lennon taking over. Lennon was keen on Feeney on his arrival and hoped that the winger could add goals to his game and become an important player. He looked to have done just that in the match against Cardiff City at the Macron netting a brace as Bolton ran out comfortable 3-1 winners.
Here are the extended highlights of that match if you want to immerse yourself in better times.
Then this season came around. Suddenly Feeney was a key player for Lennon in a team devoid of creativity and pace. Feeney worked his metaphorical socks off for the team becoming the pace setter in terms of goals (not hard this season) and assists (also not hard). But Feeney would frustrate the majority of fans as mistakes become plentiful and moments of magic few and far between.
The bottom line is that whatever you think of Liam Feeney he kept on fighting for Bolton this season on the pitch. Whatever you think of him there is no doubt that we would be worse off had he not been at the club this season. And whatever you think of him he is probably the one player who has earnt a move to a team better than ourselves (in other words any other Championship side, and once again that isn’t hard).
His strange journey from a player wanted by many to a player many wanted out is not unique at Bolton in recent times. Neil Danns was also a player many wanted at the club permanently only to frustrate many after that become a reality.
The evolution of Feeney though maybe is just synonymous with the clubs own story in recent years. At times things looked like they were on the up but in the end of the day the mini revivals simply flattered to deceive. In the same way Feeney’s promising start to life at Bolton Wanderers flattered to deceive as the frustrating player we will all remember emerged.