Is Neil Lennon Really the Right Man for Bolton?

Lennon_unveiledSunday was an intriguing day for fans of Bolton Wanderers. In the morning, talk was of Daniel Taylor’s piece in the Guardian that covered disastrous transfer dealings, the undue influence of agent Mark Curtis, incompetent financial management and the recent court case which so damaged the reputation of the club. It neatly summarised articles that have appeared on this site over the past three years.

Attention was deflected in the afternoon with the appointment of Neil Lennon as new manager. Lennon’s arrival has been greeted positively on the whole, apart from a few meat heads who seem to believe that Bolton is a hot bed of sectarianism. If there have been Orange marches in the town they must have happened when no one was looking.

The former Celtic man had been approached by the Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad, but reasoned sensibly, that in a Middle East climate with his complexion, he’d turn pink and crispy in half an hour.

Lennon’s first job will be to call dial-a-ride for Lennie Lawrence. The old lad was asleep in a corner when Dougie Freedman bit the dust and has been wandering about the stadium looking for his boss ever since.

The Hobbit

The Hobbit

After that, there’s the small matter of hauling Bolton out of the relegation zone. Taking on a job with so many difficulties shows confidence. Either that, or the new man doesn’t appreciate the size of the task. He comes to a club which is bottom of the league, with a £160 million debt, a chairman who doesn’t know right from wrong and a hobbit for a captain.

It’s not a ‘safe’ appointment, but in truth, those don’t really exist. At Celtic, Lennon won three SPL titles, two Scottish Cups and had a win percentage of 69% – the same as Jock Stein. But he was a manager in a one club league. That said, fashioning a win over Barcelona looks good on anyone’s cv.

Some might have preferred Chris Hughton, who has more Championship experience. The ex-Newcastle, Birmingham and Norwich manager is well liked in the game, but wouldn’t have set pulses racing, and after two years of Freedman’s brand of sterile anti-football, that’s badly needed.  If you’re still looking for positives, at least be reassured that there won’t be any more signings from Crystal Palace.

In addition, Lennon can’t do worse than the last Northern Irishman to manage Bolton. That was Jimmy Mcilroy in 1970 who lasted eighteen days and had a win percentage of 0%.

Outside of Bolton, Ginger Two isn’t universally liked, to put it mildly. He’s been sent bullets and parcel bombs and attacked both on the streets of Glasgow and whilst standing on the touchline in a game at Hearts. Compared to that, enduring a few ‘Lennon Out’ banners should things go badly will be a piece of cake.

Welcome to Bolton Wanderers, Neil Lennon. May you do well.

– Richard McCormick

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