Reflecting on the great season that we have just had, and considering it’s the 20th anniversary of the Macron/Reebok I think it’s only right to do my Best Starting XL of the past 20 years and find out what our best team has been over the years.
The formation that I am going for is a 4-4-2.
Disclaimer: Please note that as I have only been watching Bolton Wanderers since Gary Megson took over, I am only using players that I have seen play.
GK- Jussi Jaaskelainen
Between the sticks is Jussi and to be honest there isn’t much choice when it comes to the keeper’s. His quality outshines the others, although there is not much competition. But that’s not to say Jussi was an average keeper. For a good few years, Jussi was one of the best keeper’s in the premier league and I’m sure there are some penalty saves that come to mind when Bolton Wanderer’s fans think back to the good old days. I personally think that it was a bit unfair to drop him for Bogdan and he proved that right by doing a good job for West Ham later in his career.
RB- Gretar Steinsson
What an under rated player Steinsson was, constantly running up and down that right side. He could whip in a cross, he was always reliable and dealt with the stars of the Premier League well. £3.5 million was an absolute bargain for 4 years of great service from the right back. My fondest memory was a 3-1 victory over Stoke where he scored a goal which was debated on match of the day whether it was a shot or a cross but I didn’t care and I’m pretty sure that he didn’t either. Let’s hope that in the upcoming season we get a decent right back that can match the quality that he had.
CB- Gary Cahill
Seeing Cahill win trophy after trophy makes me proud that he became the footballer he is today because of his time at Bolton. It was the 2010-2011 season where he really stood out for me, he had to be paired with barely average players in his time including Andy O’Brien, Danny Shittu and the famously embarrassing Zat Knight. As well as being a rock solid defender he scored some great goals in his time at Bolton and he was always a danger in the penalty box with free kicks or corners, not forgetting his technique of slide tackles. It still baffles me how he only went to Chelsea for £7 million, he is already England vice-captain and he soon will be Chelsea captain, what a steal.
CB- Tim Ream
As a last-minute replacement for Cahill’s January move to Chelsea, personally I don’t think it was the right player at the right time as someone who had never played in the premier league and being put straight into a battle to avoid relegation. But his quality was there, although it did take some time to show. Although his quality isn’t as good as Cahill who he replaced, he was organised and very calm on the ball and hope he continues to have a good career.
LB – Ricardo Gardner
I’ve put him at Left back but he was all over the place. I’ve seen him on the left wing, I’ve seen him play in midfield and I’m sure if they would have put him up front he would have done it. He doesn’t fit the bill as a typical Bolton player, someone who is tall, strong and physical. But Bibi had serious pace and skill. Also, the way he ran with the ball at his feet. Unfortunately, I didn’t see enough of him as what I had liked to but I saw enough to realise how much of a talent he was.
RM- Lee Chung Yong
A player that never looked behind because his mind-set was to attack. I loved that about him. He had the confidence to go past anyone before he had his injury, but he was never the same after that. He was so good with the ball at his feet and never stopping running. I’ve not seen many players with the energy that he had but also when he has the ball at his feet he looks in total control, it’s a shame he had to go because I feel like he had a good connection with the club.
CM- Tamir Cohen
Personally, I believe Cohen was massively underrated and never got his chance in the spotlight that he deserved. He mostly spent his time coming on as a sub trying to close the game and make sure there was no last-minute surprises. He had his injury problems (which let’s be honest, which Bolton players don’t?) but what a bargain he was for £39,000. It’s a real shame that he was only here for 4 years as I believe if he was to stay he would have been a great asset for years to come. Most of his time at Bolton was spent on the sub’s bench instead of where it should have been, in the heart of the Bolton midfield.
CM- Stuart Holden
It’s criminal that STU-S-A only played 30 games for the Wanderer’s. Who didn’t love Stuart Holden? Everyone had such high hopes for him, who knows what he could have gone on to achieve with or without Bolton, the talent was there for everyone to see. The fans loved him and he loved the fans and I don’t think Bolton fans will ever forget him. Stu was mainly an attacking midfield that loved to create a chance or have a shot now and again but also didn’t mind getting a challenge in either. He did a bit of everything and he was always involved one way or another. We may look at Holden and think what he could have been, but he was still an excellent player. I’ll never stop booing Jonny Evans until he retires for what he did to him.
The Greek winger played the best football of his life at Bolton Wanderers and has never been replaced since he has left. Some might say that Matt Taylor or Martin Petrov were the same quality but for me personally, he was miles better than both of them. I never got to see a lot of Stelios but from what I did see and video’s available on internet, I can tell it was one of the better signings that Big Sam made. He was a player that loved to be on the front foot and attack the defence whether that’s a long distance shot or whipping it into the box. There was a certain flair about him when he had the ball. Let’s hope we have a player of his quality soon.
ST El Hadji Diouf
One of the reasons that I loved Diouf was because everyone else hated him. He wasn’t the nicest of players on the pitch and it’s not unfair to say he carried a reputation. Besides this, he played well for us and we used him to his advantages. Plus, he only lost his temper now and again. He had a certain style of play, he was a playmaker. It wasn’t just goals but assists too, with a fancy flick on now and again. Sometimes his tackles weren’t the nicest but that’s just the type of player that he was. It was Big Sam who changed his ways and put an arm around him which I never got to see and I don’t think that Gary Megson did that in the same way that Big Sam did which is probably why he re-joined him at Blackburn later in his career
ST (Super) Kevin Davies
Kevin Davies was a player who played to his advantages on a football pitch, using physical presence against defenders whether that is heading the ball on to another attacker for a chance on goal or to hold the play up for the rest of the team. He knew his ability and stuck to it and every tackle was 100% effort. I used to love when he went flying in on players at the Macron whether he got the ball or not, it use to give the crowd a buzz a similar way that Jay Spearing does. He had a lot of striking partners in his time including Nicholas Anelka, Daniel Sturridge and Ivan Klasnic. Although, they were some players that did not live up to the managers expectations. This created a great striking partnership, whether the Washing Machine (Gary Madine) can replace the void caused by SKD is still to be seen.