MALONE AGAIN, NATURALLY #3

This is the third part from guest author tenthreeleader, you can give him a follow on Twitter @umdpxp

Phil Gartside is not a terribly popular man in some parts of the English Northwest.

Bolton Wanderers Football Club is in its second season out of the Barclay’s Premier League, which means the parachute payments have dried up, and the club is on its own financially in any attempt to get back into the top flight.

That’s the problem. The club has serious debt issues.

Some say Gartside is responsible for that. He doesn’t think so, but then he’s supposed to feel that way.

Majority shareholder Eddie Davies has been keeping the club afloat. Born and raised in Bolton, Davies made his fortune through making kettle parts. He’s 68 years old, lives on the Isle of Man and has put an enormous amount of his own money into the club.

Some estimates have the club as much as £178 million in debt – a staggering sum for a club of Bolton’s size. And yet, when the club let Dougie Freedman go as manager, there I was, sending my CV to the club offices.

And getting an interview. Gartside was always known for doing the unorthodox.

He had Sam Allardyce running the show for eight years but when Big Sam left to take over Newcastle United, the club went through four bosses in seven years.

Sammy Lee lasted 14 matches. Gary Megson lasted two seasons, but won only 27 percent of his games.

That meant another change, to the managerial flavor-of-the-month known as Owen Coyle, who kept the club up in 2011 but couldn’t save them from relegation the next year, a fall from which the club has still not recovered.

Gartside then poached the Scotsman, Dougie Freedman, away from Crystal Palace and the team was moderately successful, finishing in 14th place.

But they wanted better, and somehow this untried manager with the gaudy coaching badges thought he was the guy to provide it.

The interview was very businesslike. The first thing I was asked was whether I was willing to build with young players. That could only mean one thing – there was no money, but I already knew that.

The names of Johan Elmander and Keith Andrews popped into my head. Elmander was the club’s record signing in 2008 for £8.2 million and after two bad years, had a good third season and then signed for Galatasaray on a free transfer. That was a colossal waste of money.

Andrews, an Irishman who by all accounts is a good guy, signed on a free transfer in 2012 for £25,000 per week for three years – not bad for a guy who was 31 years old at the time. He played 26 games for Bolton and then spent the next two years on loan.

So that was why Gartside wanted to know about signing and developing young players.

The media reaction to my agreement on terms of two years at £488,000 per year before tax wasn’t quite outright derision, but it was clear Gartside was thinking along the lines of finding younger (and by definition, cheaper) players. That was also greeted with skepticism.

Gartside’s goal was to get me into action as soon as possible: and on the day I was hired, Bolton played its first friendly.

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