We’re 39 days away from the start of the new season (I counted), and Bolton’s new-look squad is starting to take shape. It’s one of the most difficult to predict seasons for years – we could finish anywhere between top and, well, 24th. But with a clearer picture emerging of who’ll be representing us out on the pitch, I believe there is reason to be optinmistic.
Looking at the forums and the ever misleading but addictive Twitter (follow us @themeninwhite), goalscoring seems to be a concern to many Wanderers. I’m not sure it should be. We found goals last year – that wasn’t why we went down – and we haven’t lost too many players who operate in the final third. Sure, Nigel Reo-Coker chipped in with a few. And top scorer Klasnic has, of course, moved on. But Sordell has scored goals at this level, and we still have Ngog, Davies, and the less tested but highly rated Eaves. I’d like one more, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve got players that should be capable of notching a few.
Add Petrov, Holden, Chungy and (whisper it) Pratley and Eagles, who I all think can get goals in the Championship, and there’s a fair bit of threat. Plus, you can always count on your centre backs to chip in with a couple from corners. Can’t you?
My concern ahead of the new season was defence. But I’m starting to think that Mills and, yes, the re-signing of the experienced Knight mean we don’t look too bad in that department either. Mears or Ricketts on the right; Alonso or Ricketts on the left; Mills, Ream, Wheater, Knight or (ahem) Ricketts in the middle. I don’t think that’s too bad. Surely a good set-up for the second tier?
As for midfield… well, we have plenty of Championship level-players. We very cunningly bought them last year, when they thought they were making the step up to the Premier League. Chuckle.
But more seriously, we have genuine width (Petrov, Wylde, Chung), and players capable of grabbing goals (Pratley (yes, Darren Pratley), Eagles, Holden) and, in Andrews, we’ve hopefully bought a bit of bite. It would be good to strengthen a little here, but with the Sanchez rumours it seems Coyle knows this.
Anyway, that’s my optimistic take on things. I shall edit this post in October, so that it reflects reality, but at the moment we seem to be having a decent close season. Come on you Whites!