With Bolton Wanderers rooted firmly to the foot of the Championship table after 14 games of the season, the Trotters are in dire need of an upturn in fortunes, and fast, in order to salvage a campaign which is turning sour in a swift manner.
Having escaped their most recent encounter against Leeds United with a 1-1 draw at the Macron Stadium, Bolton remain with just one victory to their name, looking ahead to Saturday’s televised local derby, and must-win game away against Preston North End at Deepdale.
New-boy Shola Ameobi stole the headlines with a goal on his debut after 32 minutes, only for Mirco Antenucci to net from the penalty spot 20 minutes from time, following the dismissal of Prince-Desire Gouano.
The question is, with a difficult run of fixtures for Bolton in the coming weeks, where do Bolton Wanderers go from here as they look to climb away from a relegation place?
Relegation would be a nightmare scenario for everybody involved – but following the start that Lennon’s men have had, unfortunately it is a very real possibility that the club could be plying their trade in the third division of the English footballing pyramid, should they be unable to clear the mess that overshadows a team who spent 11 years in the top-tier.
As money is very publicly thin on the ground at this stage in play, Neil Lennon dipped into the free transfer market to acquire the services of veteran forward Ameobi, who enjoyed a fine personal display against the Lilywhites. The former Newcastle striker’s signing did raise eyebrows when the club announced it on a short-term deal last week, but the 34-year-old, who becomes the latest veteran forward to represent Bolton in the last year, following in the footsteps of Emile Heskey and Eidur Gudjohnsen.
Hopefully, the signing of Ameobi could prove to be an inspired choice for Bolton, who are severely lacking in depth in that area of the squad, with Zach Clough, Heskey and Gary Madine having all experienced their own injury problems recently.
Wanderers have struggled in their previous four seasons in the second-tier, resulting in three management changes, with all three unable to halt the problems that have occurred at the Trotters’ door since relegation in May 2012. So far this term, injuries to key personnel have once again left the side in a negative position.
Free transfers and loan signings have become the norm at Bolton, and it was no different in the summer months, with the majority of those players having a positive impact in what has been a dark season to date.
Long-standing chairman, Eddie Davies, has recently hinted via the local newspaper that a potential sale to a consortium could be on the cards, and this would be welcome news, with Davies now reluctant to keep ploughing in his own money.
Focusing on the game against North End, the first match against Simon Grayson’s men for 14 years, should Bolton fail to record three points, then the ever increasing gap will become a situation that the beleaguered Greater Manchester outfit may struggle to get themselves out of.
This is a period which could define Neil Lennon’s qualities as a manager – in a critical time for the Wanderers, it could indeed make or break the reputation of our Northern Irish gaffer.