Bolton Wanderers might not be able to offer January signings exactly what they need to be successful | OneFootball

Bolton Wanderers might not be able to offer January signings exactly what they need to be successful | OneFootball

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Football League World

·29 February 2024

Bolton Wanderers might not be able to offer January signings exactly what they need to be successful

Article image:Bolton Wanderers might not be able to offer January signings exactly what they need to be successful

Highlights

  • January signings crucial for League One title contenders like Bolton Wanderers, as squad adjustments need to be made for final push.
  • Recent additions like Ogbeta, Ramsay, Taylor, and Collins facing pressure to perform immediately in tight League One title race.
  • Previous successful January transfer windows propelled Bolton up the League tables; now, patience wearing thin with recent underwhelming performances.

For a fourth successive January transfer window, Bolton Wanderers’ squad underwent fairly big reconstructive surgery in the hope of adding a new spark in the final few months of the campaign.

In previous seasons, though, it has been a case of ‘nothing to lose’ as the Trotters either attempted to propel themselves from the bottom half towards the top or move from a team within the top six of League One to an unlikely automatic promotion race.


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This time around, Wanderers find themselves in the title race in League One, so there is something significant to lose should the signings they've brought in misfire or cause general selection headaches and potential disruption to the squad.

Adding quality personnel is never a bad thing but everyone needs time to bed in and adjust so the concern for Bolton supporters will be that there is no real time to be patient as they compete with Portsmouth and Derby County at the top and, as a result, potentially very good players that are naturally well suited to the team may get off to a bad or slow start to their Bolton career and never really recover.

The 2024 January additions

Supporters grew frustrated during January with the club relaxed about the possibility of players being brought in until there came a requirement for new faces due to several injury issues.

Article image:Bolton Wanderers might not be able to offer January signings exactly what they need to be successful

With less than a week of the window to go, Bolton brought in the first of four new signings as Nathanael Ogbeta arrived on loan from Swansea City. Signed to play at left wing-back, Ogbeta enjoyed an impressive loan spell at Peterborough United in the second half of last season before picking up an injury.

Calvin Ramsay was the next through the door with the Scottish right wing-back, who cost Liverpool around £5 million from Aberdeen less than two years ago, signed for the rest of the season. He had been on loan at Preston North End in the first half of the campaign but had his temporary stint at Deepdale hampered by injury.

On the final day of the transfer window, Bolton pulled off two impressive deals that were widely regarded as a statement of intent. Last season’s League One Player of the Year, Aaron Collins, made the move to Lancashire from Bristol Rovers for a fee of around £750,000. Collins has become the most expensive signing that Bolton have made since the purchase of Jay Spearing for around £1.4 million in the summer of 2013.

Caleb Taylor also joined on loan from West Bromwich Albion. The young centre-back gained rave reviews from his time at Cheltenham Town in League One last season and was the subject of interest from the likes of Blackburn Rovers and other Championship clubs last month, too.

January signings are yet to convince

Ogbeta made an instant impression on debut for the Whites, just a day after completing his move to the Toughsheet Community Stadium. He came off the bench to score Bolton’s final goal in a 4-1 rout of Carlisle United at Brunton Park a few weeks ago. Since then, though, the former Shrewsbury Town man has found it hard to keep the in-form Zac Ashworth out of the side. After not playing for six months, regular and consistent game time will be needed for him to hit his stride but that may well not be available as Wanderers seek immediate results.

Ramsay made his Bolton debut from the start of their EFL Trophy quarter-final against Blackpool at Bloomfield Road last month and the young Scotsman showed flashes of what made Liverpool sign him. However, much like Ogbeta with Ashworth, his arrival has seemingly led to his rival for the right wing-back spot, Josh Dacres-Cogley, to raise his game with the ex-Birmingham City defender rediscovering his excellent form from the start of the campaign.

Taylor had the unenviable task of filling in for injured club captain Ricardo Santos this month and, whilst there have been signs of the dominant and composed style that has earned him so many admirers, Bolton fans have been very aware of Santos’ absence with Taylor finding himself out of the side for a couple of games until he came back in against Cambridge last week. However, he was forced off with an injury in the first half of that match and is now expected to miss at least the next six weeks, which may mean he doesn’t play again this season.

The star signing from the window was, of course, Collins. He made his debut off the bench against Barnsley a few weeks ago and made an almost instant impact as he whipped in a pinpoint cross for the aforementioned Ashworth to score Bolton’s equalising goal in that 1-1 draw. Collins has made just one start for Wanderers since then, at home to Wycombe in a 2-1 win, and has yet to find the net as he adjusts to the system and style of football that Ian Evatt prefers. Collins was again a substitute as Bolton were hammered 4-1 by Blackpool on Saturday. He then played over an hour as a replacement for the injured Carlos Mendes Gomes in their 1-0 loss at Wigan on Tuesday and put in an extremely underwhelming performance, just a day after Evatt had suggested he was a 'signing for next season.'

Previous windows

In January 2021, with the club legitimately involved in a relegation battle down at the bottom end of League Two, Bolton brought in eight players who would be key to the first team. Declan John, Kieran Lee, Zach Elbouzedi, Ben Jackson, Dapo Afolayan, MJ Williams, Lukas Jensen, and Marcus Maddison all arrived as Bolton propelled themselves from 18th in the table to third and an automatic promotion spot in just over three months with 16 wins and three draws in their final 21 games.

Article image:Bolton Wanderers might not be able to offer January signings exactly what they need to be successful

A year later, after slumping into the bottom half of League One after what had been a bright start, there was another hectic January window to be had. Dion Charles, Marlon Fossey, Aaron Morley, James Trafford, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson, Kieran Sadlier, and Kyle Dempsey all signed and helped move Wanderers from 18th to ninth with 14 wins and five draws in their final 22 matches of the season.

Then, last season, Wanderers went on another winter spree with the arrivals of Randell Williams, Dan Nlundulu, Shola Shoretire, Cameron Jerome, Victor Adeboyejo, and Luke Mbete. The 2023 window did not quite have the same impact as previously and there will be slight concerns that this season could have a similar fate.

Bolton are third in League One, level on points with Derby in second but behind on goal difference albeit with a game in hand, and seven points behind Pompey, whom they also have a game in hand on.

They are in a strong position but still have to play the other seven teams in the top eight, with five of those games away from home, and a major final push will be needed to see them return to the second tier for the first time since 2019.

The major concern is that if form begins to fade from the team as a whole, they will require instant impacts from players who are getting to grips with a fairly complex style of football that Ian Evatt has implemented; leading to fans becoming frustrated and writing off individual players based on a handful of performances, although those performances have come at a crucial stage of the season.

Collins, Ramsay and Ogbeta will be given opportunities to shine in the next couple of months but, as was the case after a bright start to his loan spell last year with Shola Shoretire, an underwhelming few months can lead to a major hit to their reputation – and patience is thin in Bolton at the moment. The hammering at Bloomfield Road on Saturday and then another derby day defeat to Wigan in midweek has only exacerbated the issue and the minor unrest within the fanbase.

Wanderers need their January signings to make an impact but may not be able to afford them the patience and time on the pitch to properly succeed.

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