NOTE Blerim Dzemaili is actually officially a Sam Allardyce signing.
LITTLE did Sammy Lee know, but 10 years ago he was already approaching the mid-point of one of the shortest reigns of any Bolton Wanderers manager in the club’s history.
Few could have predicted how fast things would unravel after Eddie Davies and chairman Phil Gartside quickly chose to promote from within during the aftermath of Sam Allardyce’s shock resignation in April, 2007.
“You take a key man out of a team but you replace him with someone who is even better. That’s where I am at,” insisted Gartside.
“I have known Sammy a long time. He is a good coach with great contacts. If you look at his credentials to what Sam’s were when he joined they are better.
“It is a better job today and I am not sure you would have given it to Sam Allardyce now. Sammy has a reputation beyond where Sam was in terms of his international playing career.”
Gartside had a point. Lee had played at the very top level for Liverpool and England, and had earned a reputation as one of the country’s top coaches at Anfield and the Reebok.
But there was seldom a time in the Liverpudlian’s disastrous 171-day tenure where the former chairman’s confidence looked anything other than misplaced. The rush to install a new man and stop people talking about Allardyce’s exit may have led to the chaos which would ensue over the following months.
Though Lee was unfortunate to see an established backroom set-up ripped up as key staff looked to join Allardyce, who had moved quickly on to Newcastle United, his eagerness to set himself apart from the previous boss also had also accelerated his downfall.
Direct tactics which had twice got Wanderers into Europe may have had their critics but Lee’s insistence on an overhaul in one single summer left the Whites looking disjointed, and his 12 summer signings out of place.
Lee did not spend big – Icelandic striker Heidar Helgusson his most costly signing at £2.3million – but it was his relationship with existing players like Gary Speed, Stelios, Kevin Nolan and El-Hadji Diouf which lost him the support of the dressing room he had once banked on as a coach.
A solitary league win at Reading and an unconvincing victory in the UEFA Cup against Macedonia’s FK Rabotnicki did little to convince owner Davies the club’s Premier League future could be saved.
Lee remained defiant and said he would not quit - but a a 1-0 home defeat against Chelsea proved the last straw.
He was replaced by an altogether different character in Gary Megson, whose work in the following transfer window helped steady the ship. Relegation was avoided by a slender margin, and only mathematically assured on the final weekend of the season.
Lee later returned to work in Wanderers’ academy and has rebuilt his coaching reputation with the likes of Southampton and Crystal Palace but has never been offered a return to first team management.
Here, we look at the players who came to the club after the end of Allardyce's reign and what happened to them after they left Wanderers.
JLLOYD SAMUEL – Lee’s first permanent signing. Having made close to 200 appearances for Aston Villa, plenty was expected of the left-back who had once made it on to the fringes of the England squad.
He featured regularly for two seasons under Gary Megson and played in both legs of the UEFA Cup win over Atletico Madrid. But after a particularly nasty 4-0 defeat against Manchester United he was jettisoned by Owen Coyle and loaned out to Cardiff in the final year of his contract.
His next move was an eyebrow-raiser. The defender spent four years in Iran with Esterghal and Pakyan before returning – thus far unsuccessfully - to try and find an English club.
The Cheshire-based defender has also maintained business interests in fashion and mobile phones.
BLERIM DZEMAILI – Not ‘strictly’ a Lee signing, as Sam Allardyce had lined the move up the previous season. But the Swiss midfielder will go down as a great missed opportunity at Bolton.
He arrived at the club with a ruptured cruciate ligament and played just once in the 2007/08 campaign, as a sub at Sheffield United in the FA Cup.
Not to Megson’s taste as a midfielder, the playmaker was loaned out to Torino, who eventually made the deal permanent for around £1.3million.
Since then he has earned a string of moves worth £11m, won 55 caps for his country, two Copa Italia with Napoli and a league and cup double with Galatasaray.
At 31, he has just signed a deal with Montreal Impact to play in MLS.
GAVIN MCCANN – The less said about the circumstances which led to McCann coming to Bolton, the better, as they were still subject to civil legal proceedings some eight years later.
That murky business aside, the player himself ended up being somewhat of an unsung hero at Wanderers. A one-cap England international, the former Sunderland and Everton midfielder scored a valuable goal at Middlesbrough to help trigger the great escape from relegation in his first season. He also netted a winner at Red Star Belgrade and got Wanderers’ goal in a 1-1 draw at home to Sporting Lisbon.
Sadly, a knee injury meant he never got an opportunity under Owen Coyle and he was forced to retire in 2011.
After setting up a football academy in his native Lytham, McCann came back into coaching with the Wanderers Under-15s – and is a familiar face around Lostock to this day.
DANNY GUTHRIE – Had a successful-enough spell on loan from Liverpool on which he earned a £2.5million move to Newcastle United.
Has since carved out a solid career with Reading, Fulham and Blackburn Rovers but now on the lookout for a new club after his release at Ewood Park.
GERALD CID – The French defender, signed on a free transfer from Bordeaux, was another parting gift from Allardyce. His Bosman move had been announced the previous February and the 23-year-old said on his arrival he was realising a “childhood dream” to play in the Premier League.
Needless to say, it quickly turned into a nightmare for all concerned.
Despite a decent pre-season, Cid looked ill-at-ease in English football and made just 14 appearances. He shone briefly in the famous 2-2 UEFA Cup draw against Bayern Munich but saw his contract terminated after just 18 months and launched a scathing attack on the club in the French press after his departure.
He spent two seasons with Nice before announcing his retirement at the age of just 27.
ZOLTAN HARSANYI – Big Slovakian striker whose biggest claim to fame had been an audacious penalty scored against England’s Joe Hart in an Under-21 game.
Signed on a free from Senec, he never made a senior appearance at Bolton but spent three years knocking around the reserve team.
He returned to Slovakia and then moved into Hungarian football, where he currently plays for Nyíregyháza.
CHRISTIAN WILHELMSSON – Pedigree Sweden international who should have been the jewel in the crown but ended up being a huge disappointment in Wanderers colours.
Signed at great cost on loan from Nantes, the rapid winger played just 13 times and was quickly sent packing by Lee’s successor Gary Megson.
Although he played at three European Championships and one World Cup for his country his club career tailed off with spells in Spain, Saudi Arabia and the US before returning to play in Sweden. Wilhelmsson retired at Mjallby in 2015.
DANIEL BRAATEN – Norwegian international striker signed for £450,000 from Rosenborg who also failed to settle into the English game.
Braaten scored against Reading in Lee’s only league win as manager but disappeared after the arrival of Megson and was eventually used as a makeweight in the deal to sign Johan Elmander from Toulouse.
He was a big hit in France, making more than 150 appearances before moving to Denmark and then back to Norway, where he still plays for Brann.
ANDY O’BRIEN – Centre-back who had gained plenty of experience at Bradford, Portsmouth and Newcastle United – and proved to be a very consistent presence, winning The Bolton News’ player of the season.
The Republic of Ireland international made 90 appearances in all for the Whites and was gave a helping hand to the young career of Gary Cahill before moving on to Leeds United and then Vancouver Whitecaps.
O’Brien remains in Canada and is working within Liverpool’s scouting network.
MIKEL ALONSO – Midfielder, brother of Liverpool legend Xabi, who failed to endear himself to Lee’s successor Gary Megson after arriving on loan from Real Sociedad.
He will be remembered for featuring in the 2-2 draw at Bayern Munich but made just 12 appearances and returned to Spain. After an unsuccessful trial with Olympiakos he played for Tenerife and Charlton Athletic before spending the last three years at Real Union in
HEIDAR HELGUSON – Wanderers splashed out £2.3million to sign the Icelandic striker from Fulham but he managed just six starts in two seasons before being loaned out to QPR.
A knee injury was blamed for his lack of game time at Bolton but he got a career revival at Loftus Road and went on to play well into his thirties with Watford and Cardiff.
ADAM BOGDAN – Recruited as a teenager from Hungarian club Vasas, the flame-haired keeper had been recommended by goalkeeping coach Fred Barber.
He did not feature for Wanderers until 2010 but eventually succeeded Jussi Jaaskelainen as the number one choice under Owen Coyle.
Although the Whites were relegated, his form earned him player of the season in 2012 and continued into the Championship. A fine display against Liverpool in the FA Cup caught the eye of the Anfield scouts and led to a Bosman move in 2015.
Bogdan spent some of last season on loan at Wigan but remains on the books at Anfield.
After retiring, he bought a boat in his home town of Hafnarfjordur and became a full-time fisherman.
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So Wanderlust "good 'uns"
Jlloyd - yes
Blerim Dzemaili- not signed by Lee and never even played a full game for Bolton - so that can only be a NO.
Gavin McCann - yes
Wilhelmsson - Gerald Cid played more times than Wilhelmsson and he was proper shit - an emphatic NO!!!
Andy O'Brien - yes - the best of the bunch by a distance,
Mikel Alonso - again played less games for us than Cid - another resounding NO
Helguson - injured and made only six starts for us - got to be another NO
...Bogdan - the one he doesn't now rate - Bolton player of the season in 2012 - would have to be a yes!
So I make that three out of the eight I (and the stats) agree with him on and five I don't.
Anybody else got any views on Lee's signings?