Allardyce's quick return on his dealing

Bolton Wanderers 4 - Charlton Athletic 1
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The Independent Online

Sam Allardyce, the Bolton Wanderers manager, is challenging Portsmouth's Harry Redknapp as the wheeler- dealer-in-chief of the Premiership, and his prowess in squeezing the maximum value from Bolton's transfer coffers was demonstrated in style as his side swept past Charlton at the Reebok Stadium.

Sam Allardyce, the Bolton Wanderers manager, is challenging Portsmouth's Harry Redknapp as the wheeler- dealer-in-chief of the Premiership, and his prowess in squeezing the maximum value from Bolton's transfer coffers was demonstrated in style as his side swept past Charlton at the Reebok Stadium.

Allardyce has had to beg, steal and borrow to keep Bolton in the Premiership since 2001 - and yesterday he completed the season-long loan signing of the Liverpool striker El-Hadji Diouf. But even though he handed debuts to only two of his summer signings - the veteran midfielder Gary Speed and defender Julio Cesar - both immediately hit the ground running alongside the more established, and outstanding, figures of Ivan Campo and Jay-Jay Okocha.

The Nigeria international Okocha stole the show with two goals after going the whole of last season without finding the net. His trickery and inventiveness were a joy to behold, but the player himself was quick to recognise that his freedom to create has come about through Allardyce's shrewd management.

"The team performance was top-class," Okocha said. "The team worked for each other and showed the good spirit we have. If we can keep that going, we can do well this season. We know the ability we have and we are improving, and while many people will be surprised with the way we played, we're not."

Okocha's performance was simply magnificent and his goals, a 25-yard free-kick after 12 minutes and a delightful finish after beguiling the Charlton defence on the hour mark, were just reward for a performance that left their under-par visitors watching on in begrudging admiration.

In Okocha's shadow, Campo excelled, Speed battled and striker Henrik Pedersen added two clinical strikes of his own in a fine performance. His first on 30 minutes, bundled home after a delightful through-ball from Okocha, was an opportunist's strike. His second in the 72nd minute, drilled home left-footed, was that of a top-quality striker.

While Allardyce described the overall performance as a "dream start", Alan Curbishley, the Charlton manager, was left confused by his side's showing.

Charlton did not lack application, but Bolton were simply better in every area - a worry for Curbishley given his own transfer manoeuvres in recent weeks.

"If we had had a race with Bolton we would have lost it by a furlong," Curbishley said. "They had more aggression, desire and commitment - that's usually what we're all about. One or two players will look at the way they've performed and won't quite believe it.

"Perhaps we are living off our reputation from last season, perhaps we've come into the pre-season and lost our way a little bit. But no one did that to us last year and we've got to get back to what we are good at."

Goals: Okocha (11) 1-0; Pedersen (30) 2-0; Okocha (59) 3-0; Lisbie (67) 3-1; Pedersen (72) 4-1.

Bolton Wanderers (4-1-2-3): Jaaskelainen; Hunt (Ben Haim 85), N'Gotty, Julio Cesar, Gardner; Campo; Okocha, Speed; Pedersen, Davies (Ferdinand 78), Nolan (Giannakopoulos 78). Substitutes not used: Poole (gk), Barness.

Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Kiely; Young, Fish, Fortune, Hreidarsson; Holland (Hughes 12), Murphy (Jeffers 71), Euell, Konchesky (Rommedahl 71); Lisbie, Bartlett. Substitutes not used: El Karkouri, Andersen (gk)

Booked: Charlton: Young. Bolton: Speed.

Referee: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

Man of the match: Okocha.

Attendance: 24,100.

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