What the Jermaine Beckford signing means for Bolton Wanderers

Michael Regan

With a number of strikers already at the club, what does the imminent signing of the Leicester City front man mean for their future and what sort of system will Bolton play to implement the signing?

The Jermaine Beckford saga is one that has dragged on for most of the summer but he is now all but a Wanderers player having completed his medical. However after originally being set up as a £1 million transfer, there are now talks of Beckford coming on a free, with these negotiations at the Leicester end supposedly being the final stumbling block to the move.

Dougie Freedman has already spoken about the move positively, telling the Bolton News:

"We are very close with Jermaine. He's someone I have worked with before, played with, and a proven goalscorer who I think will be very good for this football club."

Working with Beckford at close quarters when they were both at Leeds United can only be a positive thing and Dougie does seem to have an eye for a bargain, picking up Medo Kamara for an undisclosed (rumored to be £700k) fee and forcing down Sheffield Wednesday's asking price for Hayden White. Freedman also seems to be able to get the best out of players already in the team, with Darren Pratley's performances in particular being a marked improvement once he took over.

On the other hand, Beckford has had a relatively miserable time at Leicester City, hitting 9 goals in 43 Championship appearances over the last two seasons. That said, he spent the majority of last season on loan at Huddersfield Town and had a relatively better time, hitting 7 goals in 20 appearances.

But what does the move mean for the other strikers at the club?

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David Ngog

Although Freedman rotated his strikers last season, Ngog was undisputedly his first choice when fit and became a key player in Bolton's charge up the table which has seen him linked with a move to Bordeaux. He is blessed with a great first touch, ability to hold the ball up and a decent turn of pace. However, there are serlous questions about his goalscoring instincts, managing to hit 8 goals in 31 Championship appearances and missing many gilt-edged chances. I think Ngog would be complemented perfectly by an natural goalscorer, could Beckford be that man?

Craig Davies

Craig Davies is quite a limited footballer, he uses his sheer power to out-muscle defenders and has quite a powerful shot. He did score a few crucial goals at the back end of last season though and his work ethic endeared him to a lot of the Wanderers faithful. He has also hit double figures in both of his seasons of playing in the Championship after many years in the lower leagues. I think Craig Davies represents a good impact sub at this level.

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Marvin Sordell

There have been many questions raised about Sordell's commitment to the football club and has been constantly linked with a move back to London. Once Freedman sorted out his twitter 'addiction' he came into a relative purple patch, hitting 5 goals in 6 appearances over January and February. However he couldn't maintain this form and was largely rotated with Craig Davies. You would think that if any striker was to leave this summer, that it would be him.

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Tom Eaves

Eaves managed to make a first team breakthrough at the end of last season being a preferred option to the departing Kevin Davies after two very impressive loan spells where he hit seven in 15 and five in ten at Bristol Rovers and Shrewsbury Town, respectively. He made a handful of substitute appearances at the end of last season and showed brief flashes of his ability. Eaves is a target man with deceptive pace and a lethal left foot and Dougie rates him very highly, which suggests that he will still be in his plans the coming season, despite the signing of Beckford.

In addition to these there's also promising youngsters, with the prolific Zach Clough and new signing Conor Wilkinson trying to break into the first team. So there's no real shortage of striking options already at Dougie's disposal.

The move also brings up the question of what system Bolton will mostly utilise next season.

Most likely with the personnel Bolton currently possess would be a 4-4-2 formation with one of the aforementioned strikers partnering Beckford.

There has also been talk of Chris Eagles being used just behind the striker in a 4-4-1-1 formation and if this was the case, you'd have to think that once Beckford comes in, one of the senior strikers would have to move on with Clough or one of the other young forwards being loaned out.

Eagles could also be given a free role, such as the one employed towards the end of last season where Wanderers played a loose formation that saw Darren Pratley occupying a role on the right with Eagles free to roam. It was a system which allowed Eagles to come into his best form of the season and this would again allow Bolton to field two strikers.

Overall, I think this could be a very promising move for Bolton. Beckford is a player I have personally admired for a long time and i think if he could recapture his best form, Wanderers could be guaranteed 15 goals from him next season which would go a long way in our quest for promotion.

I just hope his income isn't at the expense of one of our promising youngsters.

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