Johan Elmander has somehow transformed himself into Bolton Wanderers' most dangerous man. Until this season the 29-year-old was the £8.2m flop bought by Gary Megson in June 2008 who scored on debut but managed only four more goals that campaign, all of which were accrued before Christmas.
Last season was equally unconvincing. The goal count was the same though Elmander did manage to score for Bolton (once) after the new year arrived. Now he stands in late November as the Premier League's second highest finisher, just behind Manchester City's Carlos Tevez, with the eight goals that make him the defining reason why Owen Coyle's ever-improving Wanderers woke on Sunday in a Champions League berth.
Elmander bagged two more here against a woeful Newcastle United side who failed to apply the basics of defending and midfield pressing. Chris Hughton will have to address that deficiency this week
The Swede's pivotal display also featured him rattling Fabricio Coloccini twice. Once for his 72nd-minute goal when his pace and muscle caught the dithering Argentinian out before he finished beyond Tim Krul. Then a little later he panicked Coloccini into elbowing him in the face, for which the defender was correctly sent off.
Elmander's ongoing contract discussions – his current deal expires next summer – meant he spoke only to the Bolton website after the game. "Goals are goals and I'm really pleased to now be on eight so far. Hopefully I'm showing what anyone can do when they have a great manager who believes in them," he said, crediting Coyle, whose handling of Elmander, and the squad in general since taking over in January, illustrates what a fine manager the Scot is.
Coyle offered the following reasons for Elmander's transformation: "I have been delighted with him from day one coming to the club. He plays every week for me because I know what he brings and when the goals come in with all the play he looks a truly outstanding player."
The manager believes Elmander can continue to be among the Premier League's most prolific goalscorers. "He can keep it up because he has it in him. This is not a fluke or an accident. He has pace and power and ultimately you need that composure and to be a good finisher. You are playing in the best league in the world, with that comes playing against the best defenders, and to have that consistency you need to bring it all together, which is why the elite strikers in this country are the best in the world. They show it consistently. Johan is doing that."
Kevin Davies opened the scoring with the first of two penalties after Kevin Nolan, once of this parish, employed his arm to control the ball in his area. Bolton's second came from a smart Lee Chung-yong finish after an awful mix-up between Coloccini and Danny Simpson.
Five minutes into the second half and Elmander finished from Davies' pass. Andy Carroll scored his seventh of the season moments later but the Swede's second, plus the further penalty from Davies, made this an impressive 5-1 rout of a Newcastle side that beat Sunderland by the same score and went on to defeat Arsenal this season.
What, then, of Elmander's new contract? "I am very comfortable with [the] situation. We speak all the time and we will continue to have dialogue – it doesn't faze me," Coyle said.
For Hughton and his troops, life is about to become harder. Next up are Chelsea, who are smarting from their first consecutive league defeats in four years and 165 games. "That sums up the reality of this division. It is a home game and the way this division is there have been lots of strange results and unpredictable results. We have got to make sure we get something out of a home game," the Newcastle manager said. "I am sure no one will need motivating."
Man of the match Johan Elmander (Bolton Wanderers)
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