Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Twelve months ago Bolton lost at home to local rivals Blackburn to slip into the bottom three. They had conceded 17 goals in six games, lost four on the bounce and boss Gary Megson, deeply unpopular with the fans, stood on the brink.
Megson was eventually sacked in December and former Trotters striker Owen Coyle was tempted to leave North West rivals Burnley to take the hot seat at the Reebok Stadium the following month.
His task was not only to keep Bolton up but to transform them into an attractive footballing side, ridding them of the long ball tag that had dogged them since the days of Sam Allardyce.
To say he has done his job is an understatement. In under a year Coyle has re-modelled the side with very little investment in the playing squad. Instead he has largely worked with what he has got but
crucially got under performing players to perform.
One of those is Johan Elmander. The Swedish forward signed for Bolton from French club Toulouse in a record £8.2million deal in 2008.
The 29-year-old struggled to make in impact in the Premier League though and netted only ten times in his first full two seasons at the club.
Labelled an expensive flop his turnaround in form perhaps symbolises the work Coyle has done at the Lancashire club.
Elmander is a transformed player, bagging eight goals already this term, including a contender for goal of the season against Wolves earlier this month.
A 5-1 over Newcastle briefly put Wanderers 4th in the league and the excited folks on Match Of The Day were even mentioning the words 'Champions League.'
Coyle was understandably quick to dampen expectations. There is suddenly a media frenzy surrounding Bolton at the moment following their recent good run which smacks of short-term, knee jerk journalism (Chelsea being crowned Premier League champions by the media in September is another example)
But while there is a long way to go in what is a gruelling Premier League season appears no reason why they can’t at least continue to fight it out in the top half of the table; which after the Megson years is a welcome sight for Bolton supporters.