The latest instalment in the mega season preview focuses on Bolton Wanderers
THE 2011=12 season brought to an end a 13-year stay in the top-flight for Bolton Wanderers – the longest period of sustained top division football in the club’s history.
Whilst manager Owen Coyle can count himself highly unfortunate to have been robbed of the services of a number of players, including Fabrice Muamba, Tyrone Mears, Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-Yong, Bolton never looked good enough to retain their Premier League status.
Bad decisions were also a factor in Wanderers relegation, for example the decision to spend £3m on Hornet’s forward Marvin Sordell and then not entrust the forward to start a single match in five months. Another questionable call was to persist with hap-hazard Hungarian goalkeeper Adam Bogan, when experienced Finnish international Jussi Jaaskelainen was on the books.
Strengths: With the greatest of respect to Bolton, this is a Championship squad. The ability to win promotion back to the Premier League is undoubtedly there – the likes of Keith Andrews, Sordell, Chris Eagles, Andrew Lonergan and Matt Mills are all proven n.Power Championship performers & that should bode well for the Trotters.
Weakness’: Goals. Where are the goals going to come from? Sure, Sordell has a decent second-tier strike rate, but with Kevin Davies usually racking up more cautions than goals and David N’Gog never threatening, a lot of pressure is on Sordell’s head at the moment.
Best business so far: Former Leicester City and Reading stopper Mills will plug the holes in Bolton’s leaky defence. Whilst the former Royals skipper might not have endured the most happy of seasons at the King Power Stadium last season, there can be no doubt that the hulking centre-back is a top Championship defender.
Star man: American international Holden has proven himself to be an excellent Premier League playmaker. However, with two seasons of injury trouble hampering his progress, the former Houston Dynamo midfielder will be keen to get some playing time under his belt this season.
Starting his professional career in England with Sunderland, Holden has earned 17 full US caps since debuting in 2009.
In: Keith Andrews (WBA) free, Matt Mills (Leicester City) undsic, Joe McKee (Burnley) free & Andy Lonergan (Leeds Utd) undisc.
Out: Ricardo Gardner, Gretar Steinsson, Dino Fazlic, Ivan Klasnic, Nigel Reo-Coker, Paul Robinson, Sean Davis (all released), Robbie Blake (Doncaster Rovers) free, Mark Connolly (Crawley Town) free, Tope Obadeyi (Rio Ave) free, Rhys Bennett (Rochdale) free, Tom Eckersley (Accrington Stanley) free & Jussi Jaaskelainen (West Ham Utd) free.
wfc123: Good additions, a manager who knows how to get out this division, as long as there are no lingering post-relegation blues, I see no reason why Bolton can’t finish top six.
chrisgwfc: Signing players like Sordell have helped their cause. It may have been seen as negative in January but it has turned out to be a good signing now they are in the championship. Lonergan, Andrews and Mills can be some of the best players in the division but losing so many out of contract players in the summer leaves them with a thin squad.