Bolton Wanderers FanZoner Gareth McCann bids a fond(ish) farewell to winger Martin Petrov.
Is winger's departure a sign of a new era at the Reebok?
The news arrived this week that Martin Petrov had left Bolton Wanderers to move to Barcelona, and play in La Liga for Espanyol. Sometimes when a player leaves your club it's a celebration, you may even get the added value of testimonial to enjoy in the summer, and sometimes when they leave it's a blessed relief and you can't wait to start booing them in another shirt, and sometimes, sadly, you barely even notice. I'm not sure yet how I feel about the departure of Martin.
On the one hand, he is almost certainly one of the highest paid players at the club. When he joined on a free in 2010, he had been part of a moderately successful Manchester City side and probably regarded as one of their best players, when fit.
The fact that he was on a free will have meant that the club would have been able to commit to a larger weekly remuneration then they possibly would have done if he had come with a fee attached. This was fine when we were a mid-table Premiership club, but is a bit extravagant for a mid-table Championship club, as we are now.
And, to be honest, he hasn't been a first choice much this season, his role has mainly been as an impactful substitute from the bench. Partly this must be to do with his age (not as old as he does look but 34 nonetheless) and that Dougie seems to prefer younger players with more hunger to reach the top than picking those who have already experienced it. You can see that he still has the ability.
He can still dig out a great cross or free kick, but can very rarely go past someone and even rarer will he track back. In fact, a lot of the troubles Owen faced last year in our relegation season can be traced back to having our worst defender (Robinson) on the same flank as our least defensively minded midfielder (Petrov).
Little wonder that teams targeted poor Paul Robinson, limited as he was by his own ability and the lack of support offered by his wingmate. Coyle tried a lot of combinations to make that duo work and the only one that did was Robinson going on loan to Leeds, and never playing for us again.
Yet, I will be sad to see Petrov go. He had class as a player and as a person, as his heartfelt message to Stylian Petrov after last years game against Aston Villa showed. Also, his leaving feels quite symbolic in a way as he is a reminder that not too long ago Bolton were a club that could attract a player of his calibre, and signed players whose name you already knew, rather then had to consult Wikipedia about.
I understand that we have to give youth its chance, and I understand that Bolton Wanderers are not where they once were, but losing players like Petrov really underlines that this is the start of new era for the club, and the end of an old one.
But, to be fair, if you had the choice to live in Bolton or Barcelona which would you pick?