Coming into this season, Adam Bogdan had nine career appearances for Bolton (Five in cup competitions), and one for Crewe Alexandria in League 2. And given Jussi Jaaskelainen's stature at the club, it didn't look as though that number would be growing any time soon. Bogdan was also behind Ali Al Habsi, who had played a big part in Bolton staying up a couple years before, and almost single-handedly kept Wigan up in 2011.
One from Al Habsi and Jussi had to go, and Owen Coyle chose loyalty over (relative) youth, shipping the 29-year-old Omani international to Wigan, and keeping the 36-year-old Fin. One could argue this was also a vote of confidence in our (legitimately) young Hungarian. He was now a pulled hamstring away from a first team shirt in the Premier League. It turned out to be a thigh strain.
Jaaskelainen only missed one match with that thigh strain, and that match is one Bogdan would like to forget. Chelsea hammered the Trotters 5-1, and many assumed that despite some decent saves, Bogdan still had a ways to go.
But Jussi's thigh was injured again against Wolves, and Adam Bogdan got another chance. On Television around the world, everyone saw him beaten from 85 yards out by fellow keeper Tim Howard of Everton.But he recovered, and played well the rest of the match, a Bolton win. Jussi's thigh was in worse shape this time, and Bogdan got a good run of games. He beat Liverpool, kept clean sheets against Macclesfield and Arsenal, and even picked up a Lion of Vienna Suite Man of the Match award.
Bogdan's home country also took notice. He made his first career start for Hungary not too long ago.
We all know Bolton does not have a very good defense. It's much better when Fabrice Muamba plays, but Owen Coyle doesn't seem to realize that. What he has realized is that Jussi Jaaskelainen, at 36, was not having a very good season, while Adam Bogdan, at 24, is having a good season, and only seems to be getting better.
As I mentioned earlier, Al Habsi has kept two clubs up in the past few seasons, and Jussi played a huge role in keeping Bolton in the top flight (and sometimes in the top eight) over the past eleven years. Now, it is Adam Bogdan's turn.
I think Bolton's defending has improved. David Wheater and Tim Ream are a solid partnership, and will only get better with time. Gretar Steinsson has been solid at right back, and the departure of Paul Robinson has dropped our Goals Against Average by almost a full goal per match. Now that Marcos Alonso is fit again, he will probably slot in left back and allow Samuel Ricketts to return to his more natural right back position. All that said, the organization, leadership, and shot-stopping skills of Adam Bogdan may very well decide Wanderers fate this season.