Every Bolton fan will know of Zach Clough’s heroic burst onto the Wanderers scene back in January 2015 as he snatched a late winner against Wigan Athletic, with a sumptuous chip over former white Ali Al-Habsi.
Since then he’s become a favourite amongst the Wanderers faithful despite struggling to find form in what was a toothless attack during the season where we kissed goodbye to the championship.
With this relegation, Clough’s future at the club has been plunged into uncertainty as numerous clubs are rumoured to be interested in his services. The latest is newly-relegated championship side Norwich City, and whilst this may be appealing to Deano and co – as money doesn’t seem to be growing on trees – it would perhaps be in Zach’s and Bolton’s best interests if he stayed for the forthcoming League One campaign.
Despite my opinion, there is a strong possibility that Clough will struggle with the confines of physical football in what has always been a tough, intense divison, and knowing that troubles with injuries have halted his good form on past occasions it makes you ponder whether this is going to be a productive season.
After reading that back it’s clear there will be an element of risk for both the club and Clough should they decide his future lies at the Macron for at least another season. However, I believe it to be a risk worth taking.
Even though at Bradford, Phil Parkinson was known to their fans as a manager who chose a ‘lump it long’, direct approach to the game, he is a man who has several seasons under his belt at that level and will know how to utilize the various players he has at his disposal (we hope).
To add to this, the quality of defending in our new division is considerably lower when compared to the majority of championship sides, and the quality of service to Clough should be bether than the last season spent feeding off Emile Heskey’s scraps. As we’ll struggle less in League One the immense pressure on Clough to deliver will be somewhat relieved which should allow Zach to reignite that creativity that secured him a first team place.
Ultimately, there is a good chance Zach will stay with us for at least the upcoming season and provided he features in a system that suits his admittedly restricted style of play, his raw talent will shine and he will reap the benefits from staying at the club by attracting even more interest, probably from bigger clubs, assuming he stays fit.
Whilst there’s a lot of ifs buts and maybes with the guy, I’m confident its worth taking the risk and I’d rather sell Rob Holding – arguably a better player in his respective position – to Arsenal who are likely to splash the cash than risk beginning our new season lacking firepower when we have signed an established, solid central defender in Mark Beevers, as Holding’s potential replacement.