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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers Banter » TOP OF THE FLOPS: The big buys that just didn't add up for Bolton Wanderers

TOP OF THE FLOPS: The big buys that just didn't add up for Bolton Wanderers

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
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Sometimes a signing comes along that makes you wish Wanderers had kept the receipt.

Whether it be wasted wages, an exorbitant transfer fee, or a big name who failed to live up to their reputation every club has has their fair share of transfer flops.

Here MARC ILES takes a look at some of the deals that fell way short of expectation...



14. Steve Fulton

Transfer mistakes from Bruce Rioch were as rare as hen’s teeth but the £225,000 paid for Scottish midfielder Fulton in the close season of 1993 will go down as money wasted at a time when it wasn’t in plentiful supply.

Highly rated at Celtic and capped at Under-21 level for his country, Fulton had been tipped by his former Parkhead boss Billy McNeil to be a star of the future.

He made a debut in the Anglo Italian Cup against Tranmere but ended up being farmed out on loan because of concerns over his fitness. Rochard Sneekes’ arrival in 1994 then pretty much spelled the end of his time at Bolton after making just seven appearances in total.

Fulton went on to have a decent career in Scotland with the likes of Falkirk and Hearts and his Bolton-born son plays for Swansea City in the Championship.

13. Peter Barnes

Winger Barnes had a stellar career with the likes of Manchester City and West Brom, playing 22 times for England, but was winding down his career when he arrived at Burnden on loan in 1987, aged 31. The spell was brief – a hamstring injury in his second game against Carlisle sending him back to Maine Road – but 12 months later Phil Neal felt he was worth another go.

Via spells at Port Vale, Hull and Portuguese side Farense SC, Barnes signed on a big money month-to-month contract but managed just four games. His final appearance was in a 4-0 defeat at Sheffield United in which he ripped off his shirt after being substituted.

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12. Jermaine Beckford

Dougie Freedman worked the whole summer in 2013 to secure Beckford’s signing from Leicester City in what became a complicated deal. Official figures were never disclosed but sources at the King Power end claimed that Bolton paid £1.2million to buy out the former Leeds striker’s contract, as well as shouldering the majority of his £38,000-a-week contract.

Beckford’s record suggested a player who could guarantee goals – but he failed to get into double figures in either of the two seasons he wore a Bolton shirt.

11. Len Cantello

After surviving in the First Division in 1978/79, Wanderers splashed out £350,000 to land West Brom’s Len Cantello but his signing hung like a millstone around the club’s neck as they slumped to relegation and financial issues in the years to come.

Cantello did manage 97 appearances, scoring three goals, but by the time he played his last game – a 7-1 mauling at the hands of QPR on a plastic Loftus Road pitch – Wanderers were struggling to stay in Division Two.

10. Peter Beardsley

“He's a quality player who can offer us a wealth of experience," said Colin Todd after spending £450,000 to land former England international Beardsley from Newcastle United in August 1997. "I can see Peter playing at the top level for another two years."

Sadly, the veteran never saw eye-to-eye with the man who signed him. Denied the withdrawn striker’s role he had thrived in on Tyneside, Beardsley’s influence at Bolton was negligible.

He left – amid a torrent of tabloid tales detailing his unhappiness – for a loan spell with Manchester City and then on to Fulham.

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9. Marvin Sordell

In the years since Sordell left Bolton he has talked frankly about the problems he encountered behind the scenes as he tried to settle after a £3.2million move from Watford on January deadline day 2012.

Bolton hierarchy do not come out well in Sordell’s account and whether a more compassionate approach to the mental wellness issues the England Under-21 striker was having could have made a success of the deal is up for debate.

Given Wanderers needed a signing capable of inspiring a fight against relegation from the Premier League, the signing of inexperienced youngster Sordell still looks hugely questionable.

8. Johan Elmander

Debate over whether Elmander was a bona-fide flop continues even 12 years after he first arrived on English shores from Toulouse in a deal worth £8.2million plus Norway international Daniel Braaten.

He certainly looked out of place under the man who signed him, Gary Megson, and though his industry off the ball was appreciated by team-mates, his lack of goals was hard to miss.

That changed under Owen Coyle. A more attacking, dynamic style of football coincided with Elmander’s best football for Bolton. But by that stage his contract was ticking down and the Sweden international’s relationship with Phil Gartside had deteriorated.

Elmander left for free having scored 22 goals in 108 games.

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7. Ben Amos

A classic case of a player signed when his stock was high. Amos excelled for Wanderers whilst on loan from Manchester United in early 2015, convincing Neil Lennon to pay top dollar to bring him in as Adam Bodgan’s replacement the following summer.

What Lennon didn’t know was that Bolton had already hit a financial iceberg and were sinking quickly as Eddie Davies looked to sell the club. Amos’s form was admittedly patchy as the Whites were relegated from the Championship but the keeper ended up a pariah, spending the next three seasons out on loan at Cardiff, Millwall and Charlton and being continually lambasted over the size of his salary by new owner, Ken Anderson.

6. Steve McAnespie

Considering that by September 1995 Bolton’s record transfer was the £1.5million paid for Gerry Taggart, the £900,000 shelled out for full-back Steve McAnespie was a hefty slice of the budget.

The right-sided defender had played European football for Raith Rovers but made just seven starts in that ill-fated first season in the Premier League.

McAnespie did play more the following year as Bolton broke all sorts of records in their final year at Burnden Park but he never came close to substantiating the price tag, prompting Wanderers to sell him for £100,000 to Fulham in the summer of 1997.

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5. Danny Shittu

Still the 20th most expensive signing in Bolton Wanderers’ history, Danny Shittu cost £2.2million when he signed from Watford in August 2008.

The muscular centre-half never looked comfortable at Bolton and though he went to the 2008 World Cup with Nigeria, crossing swords with Lionel Messi no less, he failed to find any sort of consistency at club level.

In September 2008 it was confirmed that Shittu had come to an agreement with the club to terminate his contract – which by that point had cost Bolton £160,000 per game.

4. David Ngog

Who knows where the softly-spoken French striker would have featured on this list had Owen Coyle succeeded in wrestling him from Liverpool a summer earlier, for considerably more than the £4million eventually paid?

What cannot be in doubt is that Ngog never fulfilled the promise that he had shown in patches at Anfield, his tally of eight goals in the 2012/13 Championship campaign the best he managed in two-and-a-half seasons with the club.

It speaks volumes, perhaps, that after recouping £500,000 for Ngog from Swansea City in January 2014, Bolton manager Dougie Freedman said the deal had been “very, very good business.”

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3. Christian Wilhelmsson

Sammy Lee’s vision of a free-flowing, dynamic Wanderers never came close to fruition in the months after Sam Allardyce’s shock departure in 2007, and a lot of that was down to the failure of signings like Wilhelmsson.

Signed on loan from Nantes at great expense, the jet-heeled winger looked a very impressive addition to a much-changed Bolton squad. Yet Wilhelmsson’s contribution to the Bolton cause proved to be practically nothing, as Lee’s reign ended abruptly and his successor, Gary Megson, made it abundantly clear he was not interested.

A few unremarkable games in Europe mean Wilhelmsson’s name will perhaps live on in Bolton via pub quizzes in the future – but there was very little about his work on the pitch that hinted at his pedigree CV.

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2. Ibrahim Ba

Hailed as a “fantastic acquisition” by Sam Allardyce when he signed a short-term deal in September 2003, ex-AC Milan flyer Ba looked anything but.

On paper, the 30-year-old should have been one of Wanderers’ Galacticos but as his time at the San Siro had ended acrimoniously, Allardyce maintained he would need time to get physically and mentally prepared for the Premier League.

By the end of his first contract Ba had played just seven times for the club. Nevertheless he dug in his heels for a better deal – even threatening to pull out of an FA Cup squad bound for Tranmere – and signed until the end of the season.

Eight appearances later he was on his way for good. Ba humbug.

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1. Mario Jardel

It is easy to see why Sam Allardyce felt he was on to a winner when he signed the Brazilian striker, a two-time European Golden Boot winner, and still the right side of 30 for an upfront fee of £1.5million from Sporting Lisbon in August 2003.

A name on par with pedigrees like Youri Djorkaeff or Jay-Jay Okocha, Jardel had scored goals everywhere he had been, so it was no surprise to learn he was one of the biggest earners in the squad at more than £1m a year.

What Bolton got, however, was a player visibly out of shape – earning him the cruel terrace nickname ‘Lardel’ - and seemingly unable to play himself into form.

Two goals against Walsall in the Carling Cup, followed by another in the same competition against Liverpool, represented the sum total of his input at Bolton.

After some high-profile spats with the club, who threatened to tear up his contract for continually missing training, Jardel’s nightmare ended in the summer of 2004 when he signed for Italian side Ancona on loan, then permanently for Argentine side Newell’s Old Boys.

In later years he would admits a divorce, plus battles against depression and drugs had been the major cause of his downfall.

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xmiles

xmiles
Jay Jay Okocha
Jay Jay Okocha
Wow that makes for depressing reading. 

Difficult to say which one was the worst investment but I would probably pick Cantello or Ngog. They both cost a lot at the time and were totally useless. Runners up Beardsley, Ba and Jardel.

Maybe if Coyle had handled Sordell differently and actually played him things might have turned out better for both him and us.

Sluffy

Sluffy
Admin
Without question Sordell was the worst transfer but it wasn't the players fault.

It was blindingly clear to everyone but Coyle that we needed to plug the huge gap in midfield due to Holden's injury - what did he do, he tried to sign Wilfred Zaha (who as it turned out didn't settle at Manchester United when he eventually did move) and as a last moment 'panic buy' bought Sordell who clearly was not scouted and turned out to have mental issues that blighted his life/career.

Coyle gross ineptitude needlessly cost us relegation from the Premier League that season (just as the big money was coming in the following one) and led directly to the demise of the club to what it is now.

If that isn't the worst transfer ever let alone at BWFC then I don't know what is.

xmiles

xmiles
Jay Jay Okocha
Jay Jay Okocha
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:Without question Sordell was the worst transfer but it wasn't the players fault.

It was blindingly clear to everyone but Coyle that we needed to plug the huge gap in midfield due to Holden's injury - what did he do, he tried to sign Wilfred Zaha (who as it turned out didn't settle at Manchester United when he eventually did move) and as a last moment 'panic buy' bought Sordell who clearly was not scouted and turned out to have mental issues that blighted his life/career.

Coyle gross ineptitude needlessly cost us relegation from the Premier League that season (just as the big money was coming in the following one) and led directly to the demise of the club to what it is now.

If that isn't the worst transfer ever let alone at BWFC then I don't know what is.


I don't disagree with any part of your analysis but would still regard Cantello and Ngog as the worst value for money transfers because, like Sordell, they never worked out and cost relatively higher amounts of money.

karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
From what I remember Elmander was played out of position from the day we got him till the last season of his contract where he started banging the goals in and then pissed off to a Turkish club for free. 

They then tried to sell him on a year later for around £4million.

Sluffy

Sluffy
Admin
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:Without question Sordell was the worst transfer but it wasn't the players fault.

It was blindingly clear to everyone but Coyle that we needed to plug the huge gap in midfield due to Holden's injury - what did he do, he tried to sign Wilfred Zaha (who as it turned out didn't settle at Manchester United when he eventually did move) and as a last moment 'panic buy' bought Sordell who clearly was not scouted and turned out to have mental issues that blighted his life/career.

Coyle gross ineptitude needlessly cost us relegation from the Premier League that season (just as the big money was coming in the following one) and led directly to the demise of the club to what it is now.

If that isn't the worst transfer ever let alone at BWFC then I don't know what is.


I don't disagree with any part of your analysis but would still regard Cantello and Ngog as the worst value for money transfers because, like Sordell, they never worked out and cost relatively higher amounts of money.

Remind me again which disaster of a manager bought Ngog too!

Well done Owen.

T.R.O.Y.


Tony Kelly
Tony Kelly
Elmander was the worst signing for me. Never was a prolific goal scorer, but Megson broke our transfer record to replace a prolific goal scorer in Anelka.

Madness and he ended up leaving for free when we desperately needed to recoup some value. Appalling decision from whoever sanctioned the transfer.

Natasha Whittam

Natasha Whittam
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:Without question Sordell was the worst transfer but it wasn't the players fault.


We know you have it in for Coyle, but are you seriously claiming the player was innocent in all this?

Norpig

Norpig
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Elmander was worn down by Mugson, i remember at games he spent all his time shouting and bawling at him.
You could tell the difference when Coyle took over and he did look a completely different player but he did leave for free just when he was turning into a decent player which still annoys fans to this day.

Ngog is the worst one for me, what a waste of £4million!

Sluffy

Sluffy
Admin
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:Without question Sordell was the worst transfer but it wasn't the players fault.


We know you have it in for Coyle, but are you seriously claiming the player was innocent in all this?


He clearly had mental health issues whilst at the club, which I doubt suddenly started from after his transfer.

Can't blame anyone for being unwell if they haven't caused it themselves.

The player was clearly a panic buy and Coyle thought he was being clever hijacking his supposedly transfer to Cardiff where his former manager Malky Mackay was now in charge of.

Seems to me Coyle was played and BWFC didn't do/have time to do the proper tests and scouting on him before he was bought.

Why we were after a striker at all when clearly the need was to plug the gap left by Holding's injury in midfield is beyond belief in the first place but to blow all we had on someone who turns out not mentally strong enough to be away from home, while normal selection profiling tests would have flagged up a concern just adds to the car crash of this transfer.

I guess our worst ever transfer really is the signing of Coyle from Burnley as our manager.

Utter catastrophe for the club which effects us still to this day, that turned out to be.

Natasha Whittam

Natasha Whittam
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:He clearly had mental health issues whilst at the club, which I doubt suddenly started from after his transfer.


And you blame Coyle for not knowing?

Norpig

Norpig
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Everyone seems to forget Coyle was a very popular choice when he came in and he did turn us into an attractive team to watch. The downfall started when that dirty bastard Evans did Holden's knee and the subsequent semi-final hammering. We were 8th up to that point but it did all go pear shaped after that mainly due to his lack of tactical nous and he only had one way of playing.

He should have been sacked as soon as we got relegated but we kept him on for a few more months.

Sordell was a bad signing, not sure his mental health was an issue when he first joined us but it did worsen as he didn't like being away from London. Not sure anyone at the club handled him and his situation very well at all.

Natasha Whittam

Natasha Whittam
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:I guess our worst ever transfer really is the signing of Coyle from Burnley as our manager.


That's a laughable comment.

We played the best football I've ever seen Bolton play under Owen Coyle, at times they were an absolute joy to watch.

He made some crap signings, no doubt about that, but he also signed Stuart Holden who, in my opinion, would have gone on to be a world class player but for his injury.

No doubt you're going to come back with a War & Peace response highlighting all Coyle's failures and cock-ups - but as a fan looking back over my time watching Bolton, those were great days.

Sluffy

Sluffy
Admin
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:He clearly had mental health issues whilst at the club, which I doubt suddenly started from after his transfer.


And you blame Coyle for not knowing?

Coyle obviously wanted to buy him knowing he hadn't been properly scouted.

He must have persuaded whoever the powers that be (which I assume was Gartside) to sign him.

Without Coyle, Sordell would never had been bought.

So yes, I do.

boltonbonce

boltonbonce
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:From what I remember Elmander was played out of position from the day we got him till the last season of his contract where he started banging the goals in and then pissed off to a Turkish club for free. 

They then tried to sell him on a year later for around £4million.
Scored a cracker against Wolves though. I'll at least remember him for that.

T.R.O.Y.


Tony Kelly
Tony Kelly
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
He made some crap signings, no doubt about that, but he also signed Stuart Holden who, in my opinion, would have gone on to be a world class player but for his injury.

Agreed, he'd have been off to a top 4 club if he'd stayed fit for another 6-12 months. Quality box to box midfielders are tough to find, he's the only real example I can think of us having in the last 20 years. 

If anyone says Nolan was box to box you can cancel your account right now.

Norpig

Norpig
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Holdens goal against Blackburn is a favourite of mine, he really was a great player till that red scumbag injured him and ruined his career. I was at Old Trafford that day and remember it very well.

Natasha Whittam

Natasha Whittam
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:

Coyle obviously wanted to buy him knowing he hadn't been properly scouted.


He was young, strong and had scored a few goals for Watford so it wasn't the biggest risk in the world.

But Sordell was poor, you can't waive player responsibility just because he shouldn't have been signed (in your opinion).

I don't remember many players blaming poor form on the fact they shouldn't have been signed in the first place.

Natasha Whittam

Natasha Whittam
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:Scored a cracker against Wolves though. I'll at least remember him for that.

You won't see many better.

Natasha Whittam

Natasha Whittam
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Norpig

Norpig
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
That's what so annoyed me about Elmander, he only started playing like that when he was coming to the end of his deal and wanted to move on for free and a big signing on fee.

Sluffy

Sluffy
Admin
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:I guess our worst ever transfer really is the signing of Coyle from Burnley as our manager.


That's a laughable comment.

We played the best football I've ever seen Bolton play under Owen Coyle, at times they were an absolute joy to watch.

He made some crap signings, no doubt about that, but he also signed Stuart Holden who, in my opinion, would have gone on to be a world class player but for his injury.

No doubt you're going to come back with a War & Peace response highlighting all Coyle's failures and cock-ups - but as a fan looking back over my time watching Bolton, those were great days.

Think your memory's playing a trick on you. 

60 losses in 126 games under Coyle.

Rioch had 47 out of 172
Todd - 51 from 183
Allardyce - 114 from 371.

Coyle's record is on a par with -

Sammy lee - 7 from 14
Lennon/his bit on the side - 36 from 80
Parkinson who sucked the fun out of football - 74 from 157, and the man who knows his onions, Keith Hill 15 from 30.

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Coyle relegated (or was instrumental in) relegating ever club he went on to manage (his team in America finished in a relegation place if relegation actually applied to that league).

I'm please for you if you enjoyed his tenure as manager in having pleasing on the eye teams.

Didn't do much for the ultimate wellbeing of our club though and that's what I judge him on.

Norpig

Norpig
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
He may have been a free transfer but i consider Keith Andrews a massive flop. When we signed him i thought he would be great but he was truly awful and looked like he couldn't be arsed.

Even now as a commentator he has nothing nice to say about the club.

Ten Bobsworth


Andy Walker
Andy Walker
No room then for the best pal of the BN and the ST, Dean Christopher Holdsworth. Signed for a record £3.5m in 1997, shortly before Super John was packed off to Bradford, Holdsworth did little to make the difference the club had expected for its outlay.

He managed 3 goals in 17 appearances in his first season whilst the Wanderers were relegated. Improved a bit later at a lower level but nothing like SJM's tally and rarely staying fit for more than half a season. Don't know how much his wages were compared to SJM's but several times as much in all probability.

He went on to squander the best chance the club had of reaching the FA Cup Final since 1958 before returning as its financial saviour in 2016 - I think not.

karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:From what I remember Elmander was played out of position from the day we got him till the last season of his contract where he started banging the goals in and then pissed off to a Turkish club for free. 

They then tried to sell him on a year later for around £4million.
Scored a cracker against Wolves though. I'll at least remember him for that.

Edit: Whoops! Nat has beaten me to it! Very Happy

karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:That's what so annoyed me about Elmander, he only started playing like that when he was coming to the end of his deal and wanted to move on for free and a big signing on fee.
But was it just that though? 

He played in his favoured position in the last season before his contract was up.

The rest he pretty much played out of it.

boltonbonce

boltonbonce
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:No room then for the best pal of the BN and the ST, Dean Christopher Holdsworth. Signed for a record £3.5m in 1997, shortly before Super John was packed off to Bradford, Holdsworth did little to make the difference the club had expected for its outlay.

He managed 3 goals in 17 appearances in his first season whilst the Wanderers were relegated. Improved a bit later at a lower level but nothing like SJM's tally and rarely staying fit for more than half a season. Don't know how much his wages were compared to SJM's but several times as much in all probability.

He went on to squander the best chance the club had of reaching the FA Cup Final since 1958 before returning as its financial saviour in 2016 - I think not.
He said he connected 'too well'.  :facepalm:

Ten Bobsworth


Andy Walker
Andy Walker
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:No room then for the best pal of the BN and the ST, Dean Christopher Holdsworth. Signed for a record £3.5m in 1997, shortly before Super John was packed off to Bradford, Holdsworth did little to make the difference the club had expected for its outlay.

He managed 3 goals in 17 appearances in his first season whilst the Wanderers were relegated. Improved a bit later at a lower level but nothing like SJM's tally and rarely staying fit for more than half a season. Don't know how much his wages were compared to SJM's but several times as much in all probability.

He went on to squander the best chance the club had of reaching the FA Cup Final since 1958 before returning as its financial saviour in 2016 - I think not.
He said he connected 'too well'.  :facepalm:
Connected too well with Ken Anderson as well. It took Anderson two and a half years to shake off Holdsworth and his legacy.

wessy

wessy
El Hadji Diouf
El Hadji Diouf
Before i clicked on the link Cantello was the first to pop up in my mind.  i had no problem with Elmander he didn't do what it said on the can but he always put a shift in. The daftest signing ever was Dieter Hamann who never even laced his boots before sodding off. And of course the most comical was Jardel just a fat bloke from Brazil.

boltonbonce

boltonbonce
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
I so wanted to like Vaz Te, but he was like Bambi. His legs weren't his own. Mind you, he also left me with a nice memory.

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