There’s a hot topic in our little LOV writers group, it mainly surrounds the ‘Gang of Four’ - being Remi Matthews, Jason Lowe, Luke Murphy and Ben Alnwick, being the four senior players who survived the summer cull. These four players were involved in the strike action of 2019, and also of course were part of the worst Bolton squad in a lifetime given the appalling performances of the last two seasons.
Well now that group has been boosted to five, with Bolton Wanderers re-signing Will Buckley on deadline day last week. Buckley, a somewhat polarising figure amongst supporters, was welcomed back with open arms by some, and a reception that could best be described as ‘frosty’ from others.
This has prompted yet more online debate about the player and, by association, the other players in the same group.
Do they deserve another chance from supporters having let us down so terribly over the last couple of seasons?
As supporters we can forgive a lot. We don’t really mind players who aren’t actually ‘that’ good. However, what we cannot forgive is players who aren’t ‘that’ good and who don’t compensate for this with bucketloads of effort.
One of the criticisms levelled at Buckley and his mates over the last couple of seasons has surrounded their perceived lack of commitment to the cause. I don’t think fans are so naive as to think that players care for the club, but the proof is in the pudding where these players are concerned - performances on the pitch had been nothing short of appalling at times.
A lack of commitment on the pitch was complemented by their actions off the pitch in choosing to go on strike, depriving the supporters of another game to watch. The fact that they had gone so long without being paid (despite still turning up for training and every other match) aside, it showed a lack of respect for those in the stands who still turned up every single weekend to watch the team. Our team.
Lowe, Murphy, Alnwick, Matthews and Buckley have a responsibility to the supporters to put sheer graft and a desire to put things right at the forefront of their performances for the club. They have a responsibility to themselves to right the wrongs of the last two years.
So do they deserve another crack of the whip with Bolton fans?
Well it’s a new season and a new dawn at the club, with the completion of the takeover by Football Ventures. We have a new, hungry management team and nine new players coming in to bolster our survival efforts.
I think these ‘senior’ players have been shown up of late by the efforts of our wonderful younger players who have come into the side and shown these more experienced guys just what it means to actually want to play for this club.
This should serve as an example to those who remained from last season and I’m looking forward to seeing whether they can get back in the supporters’ good books by dint of the kind of performance that has seen us take the likes of Eddie Brown, Dennis Politic and Adam Senior to our hearts already.
Over to you, lads.