Belfast Telegraph

Okocha laments 'wasted effort' at Bolton

Former Bolton favourite Jay-Jay Okocha has condemned the lack of investment in the club that has left him feeling his four years at the Reebok Stadium were "a waste of time".

Okocha spent four years with the Lancashire outfit from 2002, making 145 appearances. The 38-year-old's time with Bolton coincided with their rise up the Premier League under Sam Allardyce, a period that also included a League Cup final appearance and a European campaign.

But Bolton struggled throughout their latest campaign and finally paid the price when they failed to overcome Stoke on the final day, which ended an 11-year stay in the top flight. Okocha felt the collapse was inevitable after a steady decline over the previous few years, telling Press Association Sport: "We changed the image of the club."

He added: "We established the club in the Premier League and we thought they would build from there. But all our efforts have been thrown away. It feels like all that work was wasted."

It could be argued that Bolton were living beyond their means signing stars like Okocha, Ivan Campo, Fernando Hierro and Youri Djorkaeff in the first place. Owner Eddie Davies has been trying to keep a tight rein on spending as Bolton's debts escalated over £100million, a situation that life in the Championship is unlikely to improve.

Yet Okocha cannot see what the point was of bringing top-line stars into the club if there was going to be no effort to build on what they achieved.

"I have been following the Premier League very closely because once you have been a footballer you have an affinity with the game," he said.

"It was a sad season for Bolton but it was bound to happen. When you don't spend or invest in the future, you can't always get away with it.

"They have been playing cat and mouse with the club for some time now and the cat has caught up with the mouse. It is a pity.

"We laid a good foundation at Bolton but unfortunately for the fans, they have to deal with Bolton being a struggling team again."

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