Most knew that it was coming, the bookies definitely did with odds of 1/1000 – as dead a cert as it could be.
Today, was the day – that ultimate day of reckoning and after a heavy 4-1 defeat Bolton were relegated from the Championship and will play League One football next season.
A brace of goals from Derby’s Johnny Russell, one each from Tom Ince and Jacob Butterfield against a solitary consolation from Zach Clough was enough to see Bolton relegated after a tumultuous season. Heavily in debt and facing the wrath of HMRC, chairman Phil Gartside unfortunately passing away after a battle with cancer and a protracted takeover finally being completed with ex-player Dean Holdsworth at the head of the successful party.
The 2015/16 campaign has been a tawdry one for the Trotters, featuring only one victory before Christmas. There was a brief flutter of fortune with results in January and February showing an upturn but Bolton are winless in their last eleven games now, including five successive losses in their last five games.
Nobody likes seeing their side beaten regularly and relegated at the end of a season where industry and effort aren’t enough to overcome the other, non-footballing matters that clubs have to deal with – and I mean nobody. It isn’t a thing that true football fans laugh at or mock; if they do then it’s surely a case of ‘there but for the Grace of God go I’. Relegation can happen to any team, at any time – just look at the agony that is facing Aston Villa fans as their team teeter on the precipice, many Villa fans having already accepted the inevitable.
With manager Neil Lennon having left the club by mutual consent, leaving interim manager Jimmy Phillips in charge to see out the rest of the season. Phillips spoke to the official Bolton website, giving an insight into many things, the main thing that will have resonance are his thoughts for the immediate future, the rest of this season. On this point, Phillips said:
“We have another month of football ahead of us. We’ve got to make sure we turn up and apply ourselves in the right manner between now and the end of the season. It’s about building for the future. We have to make sure we don’t capitulate. We will continue working on the training ground every day to make sure that doesn’t happen. ”
Speaking after the game, Phillips also said something that might bring a tiny glimmer of hope in this darkest of times, that there still is a Bolton Wanderers. On this he said: “This has just confirmed the sort of season the club’s had. The only positive thing we can say is that we still have a football club because, at one stage during the season, that was looking very doubtful.”
Bolton fans might be hoping that they emulate their near-neighbours Wigan who were relegated last season but are looking to bounce back at the first opportunity.