Vital Bolton editor Steve Connolly joins us today to give us the lowdown on the Trotters ahead of Saturday`s clash at the Reebok
Vital Bolton editor Steve Connolly joins us today to give us the lowdown on the Trotters ahead of Saturday`s clash at the Reebok…
What were your hopes/fears/expectations for the season?
Having been relegated on the last day of the season, the hope was that the club would bounce back straight away. Although we knew that this would be a hard season, the hope would be that we would be up their challenging. This has been tempered by the bad start to the season. The fear now is that this start will continue and that we will end up struggling at the wrong end of the season, something that no one thought would happen.
Early days though.
Should Owen Coyle have stayed after such a dismal season last year?
Everyone was disappointed with the way the season went, but Coyle did have one or two good excuses. The injuries to his two most effective players, Chung-Yong Lee and Stuart Holden, hamstrung the team throughout the season and no one who came in could replace them.
The beginning of the season, where we played every member of the ‘big six’ didn’t help, although hindsight suggests that this may not have been the issue that it was thought to be.
The loss of Gary Cahill in defence also didn’t help. The defence couldn’t cope without him. Storm clouds were gathering but I don’t think many called for his dismissal.
How much of a hangover has there been this season following relegation?
There wasn`t supposed to be any hangover but, up to now, the team has been rolling around like they are still on a bender rather than waking up the next morning with a bad head. No one can quite put their finger on what the problem is, but they are going to have to. And pretty quickly.
A big turnover of players this summer – who’s impressed on their arrival at the Reebok?
A lot of players left but not many came in. Keith Andrews, Matt Mills and Andy Lonergan are the senior signings, but only Andrews has played regularly and he is no Nigel Reo-Coker. Benik Afobe and Jay Spearing have come in from Arsenal and Liverpool respectively on loan. Spearing impressed in his one game, the loss to Hull before the international break, and Afobe has done well when he has come off the bench.
How has Marvin Sordell done for you guys?
It’s a strange one with Sordell. He was bought for, what was, a lot of money for this club and then wasn’t played. At all. By the time the Olympics finished he had played more for Great Britain than Bolton. Owen Coyle called him the best finisher at the club just before the season started but still hasn’t played to his strengths, preferring to play him alongside Kevin Davies, when he has started. Eventually, he ends up alongside Afobe, but normally they are asked to do too much in too short a space of time. I don’t think we have seen anywhere near his best.
Who will be the key man on Saturday?
Jay Spearing. He may not be good enough for Liverpool, but he is probably too good for the Championship. He breaks the play up nicely and has the ability to pick a pass that, unfortunately, the intended recipient can’t see coming. Hopefully two weeks training, he came to the club the day before our last game, will have created a better wavelength between the players.
If you could offload one player – who & why?
Zat Knight. The tallest player in the Premier League last season with the uncanny knack of being beaten in the air by anyone. Poor positionally (if you score on Saturday you will probably see him wave his arms at someone to blame when it is the player he was marking who has scored) and poor on the ground. His only saving grace is when he does clear the ball with his head, it stays cleared. He doesn’t clear often though.
If you could sign one Watford player – who & way?
Didn’t we already buy him? To be fair, it’s a bit difficult to pinpoint a Watford player, what with all the loans that you have had come in from Udinese and elsewhere. I always liked the look of Joe Garner in Football Manager, but Matěj Vydra is scoring goals and we need a goalscorer so we’ll take him.
How will you line-up Saturday?
Formation wise, Coyle prefers 4-4-2 but did change it to 4-5-1 for the Hull game. In my opinion he used the right formation but the wrong players and he may use that as an excuse to revert to 4-4-2. If that is the case it will probably be Bogdan in goal. Mears, Knight, Ream and Ricketts across the back; Lee, Spearing, Mark Davies and Eagles in midfield and Sordell and Kevin Davies up front. If he does decide to go 4-5-1, he will sacrifice one of the strikers for Keith Andrews. You’d like that striker to be Kevin Davies, hero to many, scourge to more, but getting on. But the likelihood is it will be Sordell.
I used to say 2-0 for every game but I no longer have any faith in our defence. So I will say 2-1 Bolton.
Joe Garner could very well be available, Steve!