Unless your board provides the money, don't get promoted

FAN'S EYE VIEW; No 133 Bolton Wanderers DAVID EDGE
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The Independent Online
Imagine the scene last June. Twenty-five minutes into the Premiership play-off at Wembley and Bolton are 2-0 down. Fifteen years of waiting to return to the elite disappearing before our moist eyes.

Ninety-five minutes later, we had won the game, the despair had changed to euphoria, and we looked forward to the start of the season with great anticipation - even though we had lost Bruce Rioch, then appointed joint- managers with a less than impressive record, and had not signed the strikers or full-backs we obviously needed. We did sign two centre-backs, however, to go with the three we already had.

Well, here we are in January and the reality has well and truly struck home. Visits to Liverpool, Aston Villa and even Manchester City have shown us just how far we are behind the elite teams in terms of facilities and footballing talent - although in the case of City, perhaps facilities only.

To compensate us for the increase in cost to watch our weekly humiliations, our board has, it must be said, made attempts to improve our image - even if the team has not been improved (sorry Sasa Curcic, you are the exception).

A new 25,000 all-seater stadium, which will grace the Premiership, is due to be completed in 1997. Unfortunately it will house an Endsleigh League side destined to spend the future years as nomads, "wandering" between the First and Third divisions, and it hurts. Boy does it hurt.

Frustration boiled over on and off the field. Our normally reliable centre- back, Gudni Bergsson - the Iceman - experienced a melt-down against Queen's Park Rangers and was sent off for the first time in his career. Fans have vented their feelings at our boring, stuttering and shambolic performances with after-match demonstrations, and who can blame them?

So where did it all go wrong? Stand up the board, Roy McFarland and Colin Todd. Bruce left in June but the management "dream ticket" were not appointed until just before the start of the season. Tactics were changed and we purchased only two players with Premiership experience, both of whom were reserves at their previous clubs.

We have sold our only two midfield players who could tackle, and have seen the introduction into midfield of the manager's son, Andy Todd, whose idea of creativity is to mimic David Batty and pass the ball sideways or backwards.

The formation went from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 and now 5-3-2. Unfortunately our "wing- backs", triers as they are, lack the pace to make the system work.

But wait! Will things improve now that our board has finally seen the light and dispensed with the services of Mr McFarland? Maybe, but I hope fans of aspiring Premiership clubs will find the following pieces of advice useful.

1) Unless your board is determined to provide the money to purchase quality players and hold on to your best players, then don't bother getting promoted. It only leads to frustration and heartache. Let's be honest, us "true fans" only want our team to win. Believe me, it's no fun admiring the skills of Les Ferdinand as he puts two goals past you when you're bottom of the League.

2) Whatever you do, never, never, never appoint an ex-central defender as a manager. How many good Premiership managers are defenders? Robson, Fergie, Dalglish, Keegan, Francis, Rioch? Not on your life.

3) Be wary of your manager if he tells you that your two best players will definitely be staying at the club to help the Premier cause.

4) Don't prevaricate. It was obvious at Bolton four months ago that things were wrong. If swift and ruthless action is needed then take it. Time waits for no man. Nor does the Premiership.

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