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Major Surgery Still Needed

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Holding's sale brought calls for more investment in the squad, but Joe argues that is the last thing we need...

Davies running away from the ball again
Davies running away from the ball again
Daniel Smith/Getty Images

The transfer embargo has gone. Bolton Wanderers can actually make new signings. We've already made four of them. We've actually had some money come in from the sale of Rob Holding now too. Surely the logical thing to do is to re-invest that in more new players to ensure promotion. Or is it? Isn't that what got us into this mess in the first place?

Remember when we were relegated from Owen Coyle's beloved Barclays Premier League? No longer able to go "toe to toe" with the best?  We were all desperate to get back. So much so that our already heavily-indebted club gambled even more money on a vain attempt to get straight back up at the first attempt. Look where that got us. We're still paying the price for that; even after almost going out of existence, even after the takeover, even after further relegation, even now the transfer emabargo has finally been lifted.

That desperate gamble meant that we missed the opportunity to shift on high-earning players like Mark Davies, while anybody else was daft enough to take them, and lumbered ourselves with even more expensive dead wood. Signing anybody else at the moment would be like picking up a bucket and actively pouring water into the ship you are currently sinking in. The Holding sale has actually given us some breathing room, pumped a little bit more water out of the ship, nothing more.

Take a look at our current squad - do you think they offer value for money? The spineless bastards who failed to stand up and be counted last season? Those players with Premiership experience and talent - and wages?

Mark Davies, our highest earner, reportedly on around 18k a week - did he show anything last season to merit that? Of course he didn't: for a player with his wages, his reputation and his experience he should have been man of the match every week in the Championship, he should have been out there showing leadership. He should have been capable of taking hold of a match by the scruff of it's neck and dominating it, but he couldn't. He didn't do that at any point, and he had plenty of opportunities. He should be absolutely ashamed of his contribution last season.

Look at the rest of them - Jay Spearing, Dougie's "blue chip investment" on a similar amount to Davies, unlucky last season to be hamstrung by the terms of his transfer from Liverpool, but still - value for money? Others earning 10k a week or more - Trotter, Dervite, Moxey? The biggest let-down of them all: Darren Pratley, club captain. Is he worth anywhere near the amount of money he takes home from our club every week? These players are on wages far higher than the average for league one, which is probably still less than 2k a week unless there has been a dramatic shift from the 2014/15 season. This must put our wage bill at easily the biggest in the division. Are we getting value for money from it? No, and it needs to come down dramatically if we are to survive as a club.

I don't just cite the above examples based on their poor performances or solely because of the money they earn. As senior players in the squad, you expect to see some leadership from them on the pitch - that, for me, has been the biggest let-down from our high-earning experienced players. The sheer number of absolutely gutless performances from them last season, where senior players were absolutely anonymous, hiding on the pitch. Given all that, I have to say we face an uphill struggle to get rid of them - who would want them? If you were a manager of another club, and had witnessed our capitulation last season, why would you want Davies, Pratley, Dervite or Moxey in your team? What would they add on the pitch or in the dressing room?

Either way, we have to hope someone is daft enough to take a punt on them. I am firmly of the opinion that the majority of our high-earning "stars" should all be transfer-listed, and we shouldn't ask for any money for any of them. Maybe the supporters trust can pay for a bus to drive them round all the Championship grounds in the country until someone feels sorry for one of them and gives in. Until we have dramatically reduced our wages bill I really don't think we should be talking about signing anyone. We have enough players, and certainly spend far too much on them at present.