Do you hear that? That's the sound of Premiership football (with the exception of Spurs-Everton) rumbling closer. While we haven't been exactly starved for footy this summer (Womens World Cup, Copa America, U21 Euro's etc) there is nothing like the Prem. Tomorrow the Trotters usher in the new season with a trip to new boys, QPR. This is, of course, a situation Owen Coyle is familiar with, having managed Burnley into the top flight two seasons ago, and watching his side beat Manchester United at home on the opening day.
On the subject, he said:
“I know what it’s like bringing a team up from the Championship. You’re up there with the big boys and you want to send out a statement that you intend to stay there... The fans are up for it, the players are up for it”
It is clearly a fixture that's being taken seriously by the club, and with good reason. QPR have managed a thrifty summer, but have done well for themselves. Jay Bothroyd, Kieran Dyer, Danny Gabbidon, and Brian Murphy have all come to Loftus Road on frees, while the club parted with just £1.25mil for relegated Blackpool's goal machine DJ Campbell. This last player is familiar with scoring against the Trotters, having gotten a brace in Blackpool's 4-3 win last season. QPR have also managed to hold on to their midfield cracker, Adel Taarabt. Neil Warnock only has 2 injuries (Rob Hulse, Jamie Mackie) to hinder his selection, and should field a side ready to go out and play.
Bolton on the other hand have a plethora of injuries, and knowing our luck will probably pick up more in warm up tomorrow. The loss of Chung-Yong Lee is a huge blow to the side, and I can't be alone in my doubts of Chris Eagles' ability to fill the hole left by the Korean. We now have many options in the central midfield (Mark Davies, Darren Pratley, Fabrice Muamba, Nigel Reo-Coker) but it's still unclear who makes up the best pairing. The rest of the squad provides a frightening lack of options, as the summer failed to shore up a lot of the weaknesses. Petrov remains the only option on the left wing, and is far from ideal, while the forward pairing of Kevin Davies and Ivan Klasnic is not exactly confidence inspiring.
We've had a fairly successful preseason, with 6 wins and 2 losses, but the competition provided by the Premiership, even the newly promoted teams, may prove a bit of a shock. The team should carry the confidence from preseason without letting it turn into cockiness. Coyle said “our focus on delivering what quality we have and we know if we do that, we have enough to achieve a positive result,” and I believe that. With the tough run coming up after this, it's important that we get off to a good start. If we go to Loftus Road and play our game, we can do that. Come on you white men!.