The Championship in England is one of the most difficult leagues to play in for any club. For a club like Bolton Wanderers, so used to the champagne lifestyle of the Premier league, it will be even harder. What the league lacks in technical ability and tactical nuance, it makes up for in brute strength and raw effort. Recent times have given us clubs like Blackpool and Swansea, who gracefully passed their way to the top flight, but these clubs may be the exception that proves the rule. Even Owen Coyle's Burnley team that got promoted a few years ago, while easy on the eyes at times, knew how to get down and dirty.
Of course, it's not just a question of kicking the hell out of everything that moves then returning to the ESPN rotation, it is subtler than that. The grueling 46 game season is divided into three parts. The first is finding out what you have. That is what we are going to discuss today. The first third of the Championship season often features a lot of blowouts. The clubs are figuring out what works best for them. They might lose 5-0 on a Saturday, then win 4-0 on a Tuesday. It's a confusing, uncertain time. This is going to be especially true for Bolton Wanderers this fall, primarily because Owen Coyle has been fighting with supporters (and sometimes personnel) for over a year now over what the best formation for this team to play is.
The 4-2-3-1 was the best approach for the relegation fight, and I truly believe, if we had possessed enough fit midfielders to play it at the end we would still be in the top flight. But we all know Owen wants to play the 4-4-2. He has brought in many players with an eye towards this formation. But will it work? In this league, with this squad, we just don't know yet. But we will.