Bolton Wanderers: Middling Midfield
The midfield, the part of the team that is supposed to hold the game together and wrest control of it if it is going badly. The part of the team that is supposed to supply the strikers but also help out the defence. The part of the team that was missing its main two components.
For most of the season, the midfield was chopped and changed as the manager tried to find the right blend without the injured Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-Yong. Even then, he continually selected Darren Pratley a player so out of his depth it made you long for the heady days of Gerald Forschelet.
So, here is our take on the eleven players who turned out in the league. We haven't included Stuart Holden and his lovely hair but his one performance in the league cup gets a 9/10.
6. Fabrice Muamba
Played 20 Scored 1 Yellows 2 Reds 0
With Fabrice, it is a case of never mind how well he played, let's just be glad that he is here at all. An actual walking, talking, medical miracle, whe should have known that this would be an extraordinary season for him when he scored at QPR rather than ballooning the ball so far over the stand it ended up in the old Blue Peter garden. Was strangely dropped when playing well and then may have got himself into trouble when Tweeting about it. However, this pales into insignificance when comparing to what might have been.
In contract. It isn't a matter of when he returns, but if. At the rate he is going, he will be carrying the whole team onto the pitch come August.
7. Chris Eagles
Played 34 Scored 4 Yellows 1 Reds 0
Probably the most infuriating player at the club, his signing was met with some consternation by fans as he hadn't exactly set the Championship alight when playing at the Dingles. Can be brilliant in one game and then godawful in the next, he can also slip in and out of games and, of course, be incredibly greedy. Yet, he can also produce moments of quality so will be needed next season. With the return of LCY, he may move into the middle.
In contract and difficult to see anyone else wanting him.
10 Martin Petrov
Played 31 Scored 4 Yellows 2 Reds 0
At long, long last, the second half of the season saw Petrov become the player that we thought we had got in the summer of 2010. His crosses were second to none, his running down the wing well timed and he even tracked back. That's right, he tracked back. All his goals came from penalties but if I'm looking forward to anyone playing in the Championship, it is Petrov.
Contract up in the air and no one seems to know whether he signed a three year contract or if we had a third year clause. Not on the released list and not on the list of those being spoken to. Will stay as at his age he is probably too much of a punt for a Premier League side. (1:30 a.m. update: Petrov had a clause in his contract that meant a years extension if thirty games were played. A reverse Reo-Coker, if you will.
11. Ricardo Gardner
Played 4 Scored 0 Yellows 2 Reds 0
An inauspicious end to Bibi's Bolton career came with his sending off at Swansea. And that was it. Fourteen years, 409 games, 25 goals. He was given a new contract at the beginning of the season and told to prove his fitness but what he gave us was a swansong. The rumour is that he doesn't want a testimonial. Well, damn you Bibi, it's not about what you want.
Released, but welcome back anytime.
16 Mark Davies
Played 35 Scored 4 Yellows 7 Reds 0
You remember that Ben Arfa goal that was one of the supposed goals of the season? You remember the sluggish tackle that Mavies put in at the beginning of the run that should have stopped the run in its tracks? As with Eagles, Mavies can be infuriatingly good or bad but needs to learn that being in midfield is not just about going forward. For an attacking midfield player he didnt score enough goals. Some find him overrated. He is, in fact, as good as we have got.
In contract but with Premier League clubs sniffing around and a still overcrowded central midfield, chances are we have seen the last of him in a Bolton shirt.
18 Nigel Reo-Coker
Played 37 Scored 3 Yellows 8 Reds 0
NRC had made noises about going to a Champions League club before being released by Villa and, whilst he was never that good, he certainly delivered a battling quality to the centre of midfield. If only his passing was as good. Too often gave the ball away in the centre of the park without looking who he was passing to. Still, overall, a good first, and only, season in a Bolton shirt.
Relegation release claused activated. Lower half Premier League clubs primed.
21 Darren Pratley
Played 25 Scored 1 Yellows 5 Reds 0
When Brendan Rogers needs a laugh, he reminds himself that he managed to offload Dazza Prazza. Aahh...Dazza Prazza. The headless chicken. Those who read regularly will kow that I am not his biggest fan and it is little surprise that we stopped losing when a caught a 'virus'. He may have got better towards the end of the season but that is like comparing whether you want to be beaten over the head with a lump hammer or one you use to knock nails in with. Has a lot to do next season but may be at the right level to do so. However, he will never be a Premier League class player and wins worst signing of the season.
In contract. Unfortunately.
27 Lee Chung-Yong
Played 2 Goals 0 Yellows 0 Reds 0
The injury that should never have happened robbed us of one of the things that would have kept us up. When LCY returned for two brief cameos he showed flashes of what we had been missing but was sent on to do a job that was beyond him. Saving the season. Will be back next year.
In contract and hopefully raring to go next season. Premier League managers may come calling but only after seeing how he is playing early on.
28 Gael Kakuta
Played 4 Goals 0 Yellows 0 Reds 0
The club went to the loan well once too often with Kakuta, although to be fair to him he was never really given the game time to prove himself and by the end of the season was joining Abdi Meite in battling relegation from Ligue 1 with Dijon. It's all mustard. What?
30 Ryo Miyaichi
Played 12 Goals 0 Yellows 0 Reds 0
Raw and talented but no Daniel Sturridge nor Jack Wilshere, Ryo showed in flashes his talent but faded quickly and only figured for seven minutes of the last three games. Hard to say that he flattered to deceive but he probably did enough to warrant another loan spell in the Premier League.
On loan and gone.
37 Josh Vela
Played 3 Goals 0 Yellows 0 Reds 0
I've seen the future and its name is Josh Vela. Although I did say the same about Danny Ward. Spent more time on the bench than a high court judge but when he was eventually given game time appeared to be very comfortable on the ball. Needs to be front and centre next season if we are to make the most of him
In contract and a starter next season.
So, there you have it again. Overall we'd say that Martin Petrov just about sneaked midfielder of the year from Muamba by virtue of not nearly dying but the majority of them performed, how shall we say, adequately. Join us again, when we will be going through the strikers.