The return of the man, the myth, the chin to Bolton Wanderers was expected for a while before it actually happened. I think it is fair to say it attracted a mixed response. Some were annoyed to be bringing back a player whose Bolton career has been tainted by so much failure and whose injury record leaves a lot to be desired. Others, such as myself, were not so against the move. I think we could have done a lot worse than bringing him back in on cut price wages.
At this point Wheater’s story is probably well known to many and he has been at Bolton for so long and been through so much it is in a way irrelevant. But I have some time to kill so here we go anyway.
He of course started out at Middlesbrough becoming a first team player in the wake of a no doubt unexpected Jonathan Woodgate injury. While at Boro he represented England at Under-16 through to Under-21 level and won the FA Youth Cup along with Bolton new boy Andrew Taylor and [insert crude comment here] Adam Johnson.
He did later make it into a senior England squad due to injury to John Terry, but didn’t make it off the bench. He was later relegated from the Premier League with Boro, relegation becoming something of a career trend of course. He decided to stick around, showing some of the loyalty we all know about, and was made captain that season though was later replaced by Gary O’Neil.
He did though then join Bolton in January 2011 for a reported £2.2 million. He proceeded to receive two red cards during that season and was behind Zat Knight and Gary Cahill in the pecking order. The next season was of course Bolton’s last in the Premier League. He scored his first league goals for the club netting twice against Blackburn Rovers in the 2-1 home win but then the injury curse struck and he was ruled out for nine months by rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament during our 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion which all but doomed the club.
He returned for the 4-1 win against Hull City the following season but of course would continue to be plagued by injuries. Last season would have comfortably been the season he made the most of his 117 appearances for the club racking up around 30 and was also a season which ended with him being released. The most notable moments of last season for Wheater were of course being fined for swearing at a Twitter live stream along with Liam Trotter and waiving at least £10k in appearance fees to be involved in the closing fixtures of the season. The later moment does show his loyalty to the club, all be it that he was probably still banking a sizeable wage and would not have seen those payments anyway were he dropped because the club wouldn’t pay them.
But Phil Parkinson invited him back to train with the club on trial. Although he was unable to make it to Sweden due to his wife’s pregnancy he would link up with the squad after their return and would eventually be offered a new one year deal at the club.
It’s fair to say that he is not an unknown quantity. But his new partnership with Beevers is and it is encouraging that this seems to be developing well at an early stage. As noted above Wheater has had less of a pre-season than others in the squad and is not physically in the same condition. This also means that he has not been playing with Beevers for quite so long, which means that in theory their partnership can only get better over the coming weeks and months.
More on their burgeoning partnership is noted in the Beevers piece from a few days back. From a Wheater perspective it is nice that he finally has a partner who isn’t erratic and useless in the Dorian Dervite mould. With any luck he can stay injury free and form a solid partnership at the back which can form the bedrock of a Bolton promotion challenge. Optimism still feels a little odd, but this really could happen.
Finally some quotes which speak volumes about Wheater. It’s good to have players around who are settled and happy in the area. Wheater had this to say to the Bolton News after the Hull City game last season in anticipation of being released;
“I like playing for this club. We are settled here – I have one child, one more on the way and two big dogs that are crackers. It would be easier to stay around here but it’s going to be tough wherever we go.”
His desire was also noted by Phil Parkinson on the clubs site following his resigning;
"He has shown a real desire to help get the club going again. We're delighted to bring David back"
I think it is fair to say that the one thing no one doubts with Wheater is his commitment to the cause. That commitment will be so important this season as the club looks to stop the rot.