Former Bolton Captain on 'Horrendous' Fan Criticism

  • May 30, 2020 | By Chris Mann
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Matt Mills has spoken about dealing with criticism from supporters during his time at Bolton, saying the abuse received hurt because of how much he cared.

Mills joined Wanderers in a reported £2million transfer from Leicester City in the summer of 2012 and spent three years with the club, scoring seven goals in 94 appearances, before joining Nottingham Forest at the end of his contract.

Speaking exclusively to Walking Down the Manny Road - a Bolton Wanderers podcast by Burnden Aces, the 33-year-old reflects on his time with the Trotters by expressing his own frustration at how the club failed to live up to expectations both on and off the field.

"It's really tough," Mills said.

"Especially when, if you look at that period of time at Bolton, we'd had three managers. I'd probably played 50-60 games and be what you'd call established.

"A lot of players had come and gone and a few managers through the door, so to hold the club close to your heart and pour all your effort and energy into doing well - it's just horrendous.

"The abuse you get is not nice. There's nobody in the game who can say it doesn't phase you because it does and that's because you care.

"It wasn't nice but I understood where it was coming from and I felt the same pain in the sense that I was sold on signing for a big club with big ambition.

"No disrespect but the players we were bringing in after 2013 weren't really of a level you needed to get promoted.

"I could see the frustration but knowing what was happening behind the scenes and just trying to focus on giving your best, ultimately it was about not letting the club drop down the league.

"There were good moments along the way but it was tough."

Tensions between fans and Mills were perhaps at their highest during the defender's final season at Bolton - 2014/15 - when he was handed the captaincy following Jay Spearing's loan move to Blackburn Rovers.

Having taken the time to look back at his career as a whole, Mills believes the armband brought on added pressures that not all players are stong enough to live and that is largely down to being a key target on the terraces when things aren't going so well.

"Reflecting back on my career, which is over or coming to the end, I'll be privileged to say that I captained Leicester, Bolton, Nottingham Forest and Reading," he added. "I'm very fortunate. I'm blessed and very grateful for that.

"But if things aren't going well then the captain is going to be the first one to get it in the neck.

"There's no point in saying you're prepared to take on the armband if you're not prepared to take everything that comes with it.

"Having said that, it doesn't get over the fact that it was a really difficult time personally.

"I would like a lot of fans to appreciate what players go through. It's easy to say: 'you play football for a living and you're really well paid, just get on with it'. That's fine but people also need to understand we are human beings.

"It is what it is and is it going to change? No - culturally something is wrong for me. In my opinion, football fans should support their team in good times and bad, but that's easier said than done and I understand that."

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Pos Team Pld Pts
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