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The cruel power of 10: The decade that hit Sunderland and Bolton the hardest

Ten years ago the festive period was indeed the season to be jolly for Sunderland and Bolton Wanderers with the Mackems placed sixth in the Premier League and the Trotters just behind in seventh.

By May both clubs had slipped to mid-table but though the heady days of Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn up front for Sunderland were becoming a distant memory – as too the great times experienced at the Reebok under Sam Allardyce – mid-table was still just fine. Each club was ticking along, a top flight fixture.

On taking charge at Bolton in January 2010 Owen Coyle compared his new employers to the one he’d just left, saying: “Everything I want in a football club is here. The best way to put it is that this is probably five or 10 years ahead of what we were trying to achieve at Burnley.” He, like everybody else at the club, and similarly everyone concerned 140 miles north on Wearside, had no earthly clue as to what was coming next.

While the Clarets entertained Manchester United this Christmas their fallen neighbours presently prop up League One having started their campaign with a 12 point deduction and with only six contracted players. In late August a takeover saved a club that had been entrenched in administration for several months from being liquidated and expelled from the league.

In 2014 Bolton were described by one broadsheet as being ‘broken’ and that was long before things got really bad with only cold water coming through the showers and players not being paid. Frankly, as much as their decline through the leagues disturbs, it’s a blessing and a wonder that a famous institution with four FA Cup triumphs to their name is still around.

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As for Sunderland, though their slump may lack the financial gravity it is still an undignified fall from grace that stuns. Anyone who watched – through their fingers – Amazon’s ‘Till I Die documentary detailing their relegation from the Championship in 2018 will be acutely aware of the club’s almost admirable ability to self-sabotage and so here they currently lie, a good few places off the League One play-offs having lost or drawn most of their matches this term.

Being under ownership in recent years that has been deemed ‘hapless’ has hardly helped their cause while burning through 16 managers since 2010 has inevitably led to one crisis being endured after another. This places even greater pressure on present incumbent Phil Parkinson who has only been in office for two months.

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The end of this calendar year is prompting those of a sentimental nature to look back on the past decade; highlighting the highlights and comparing the then to now. Let us be under no doubt that no two clubs have been through the wringer worse than this pair.

Article title: The cruel power of 10: The decade that hit Sunderland and Bolton the hardest

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