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Frustrated Lennon in impossible position says Taggart

By Stuart McKinley

Published 02/12/2015

In the hotseat: Neil Lennon is enduring a difficult time in charge of Bolton with a winless run, uncertain finances, unpaid players and the club up for sale
In the hotseat: Neil Lennon is enduring a difficult time in charge of Bolton with a winless run, uncertain finances, unpaid players and the club up for sale

Neil Lennon has been placed in an "impossible position" at Bolton Wanderers, according to a man who knows both the individual and the club inside out.

Gerry Taggart spent three years with the Trotters in the 1990s and he and Lennon have been friends since their teens, when they both left Lurgan to join Manchester City.

During his time at Bolton they were a Premier League side and were one of the first clubs in England to move to an impressive out-of-town arena, but now they sit rock bottom of the Championship and many of the seats at the Macron Stadium lie empty.

They have only won once in the league this season and that was 13 games ago, but Lennon retains the support of both the fans and the board.

They, like Taggart, recognise that the 40-times capped former Northern Ireland international is dealing with difficult circumstances and uncertainty everywhere he turns.

Chairman Phil Gartside has taken ill, owner Eddie Davies has put the club up for sale and before Monday night's 1-1 draw with Brentford, it was revealed that the players hadn't been paid.

No firm buyers have come forward, even though Davies is prepared to write off the £175m he has invested in the club.

"Neil is between a rock and a hard place," said Taggart.

"There are a lot of problems at the club and if you dig deeper you'll discover that his budget has been drastically cut and he's doing his best with what he's got.

"When Sam Allardyce was manager, Bolton punched above their weight. They were competing in the Premier League, had a new stadium, great training ground and were attracting top class players, but once the decline started and they got relegated that was it.

"The club collapsed in a very short space of time and that proves that they were punching above their weight.

"Neil has been placed in an impossible position because of the circumstances at the club and there isn't much he can do without a competitive budget.

"It's no surprise as you could see what was coming last season. They have lost their parachute money now and they don't have the finance to compete.

"Players that he wanted to sign or keep have either gone elsewhere or left, weakening the squad in the process."

Life at Bolton is in stark contrast to what Lennon experienced while he was manager of Celtic from 2010 to 2014.

The Hoops were consistently challenging for trophies and playing in Europe, but Taggart believes his old pal - who he played alongside both for Northern Ireland and Leicester City - has enough about him to turn the situation around with Wanderers.

"Neil's a fighter and he will use his personality to get that message through to the players," said Taggart.

"When you are locked in a situation like Bolton are in at the minute you've got to come out and fight.

"Bolton should be thankful that they have someone like Neil Lennon in charge at the moment.

"I think that there was a positive reaction after they drew 1-1 with Brentford on Monday night and any kind of result has to be considered a good result for Bolton at present."

Lennon has felt the support from the stands as he goes through the most testing time of his managerial career and he will need it as it doesn't look like things are going to change in the near future.

Lennon said: "I think the players are fortunate to have the group of supporters that we do.

"They have stayed with the team through really bad periods.

"Particularly at home, they have been superb and we had a good turnout at Reading as well when they stayed with the team the whole way."

Belfast Telegraph

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