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Fireside Chats: New Season's Eve

The pressure will be on this guy
The pressure will be on this guy

The new season is so close you could probably taste it, if you could taste seasons (which you probably can't). In preparation, after the long, slow months of summer, the media has flurried around the club, interviewing everyone they can get their hands on. Owen Coyle, of course, features, but so do boys we haven't heard much from, like Matt Mills who may be playing against his brother.

Joe Mills, younger brother of our Matt, who is at Burnley on a season-long loan from Reading plays on the left, either as fullback or wing. This could be the third time the two brothers have faced each other on the pitch. Our Mills had a word with the Bolton News about the rivalry,

"It's been a long time coming. Obviously over the summer you're trying to get in the best physical shape you can for the game but in the back of your mind you know it's Burnley and that we've got a chance of playing against each other. It's clearly a huge game, even though we've faced each other a couple of times before. And once it starts, it'll probably be just like any other one. But there's that bit of banter before and afterwards. We don't need any mind games, though. Both of us will want to go out and win.

"It's a feisty local derby to kick us off and Burnley certainly like to play football the right way. I actually played with Eddie (Howe) at Bournemouth and he's a good guy who has taken his managerial philosophy from Sean O'Driscoll, who's another one I have worked with in my time. It's shaping up to be a good match because they like to get the ball down and so do we."

Having been part of a promotion push with Leicester City, Mills does have a few things to say on that front as well,

"I think as players you have to handle it, so does the manager and his staff, but importantly I think the fans have to handle expectations a little bit. Last year with Leicester spending a lot of money and playing the likes of Real Madrid in a pre-season friendly it was massively hyped up. There were times we were drawing 0-0 and being booed off the pitch.

"We need to be in this journey together - fans and players - because there will be ups and downs throughout the season. But I'm confident we're good enough to get promotion to the Premier League."

The comment on fans handling expectations definitely rings true. Many Bolton fans seem to expect automatic promotion simply because we were in the Premiership so long, but the fact is that this hasn't been a team to really achieve anything in a while. Automatic promotion is not as attainable as some seem to think.

Of course, this derby isn't just a reunion for Owen Coyle, players Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears also came from Turf Moor recently. Mears will continue the nostalgia tour on Tuesday, when the Trotters face another of his old clubs, Derby. He chatted about both clubs with Bolton's official site,

"It will be nice to go back to Turf Moor and see everyone. I'm not too sure about the reception that I will receive at Burnley and Derby, but I enjoyed my time at both clubs. But away from the football side, the people I worked with whilst I was there - the players and people behind the scenes, there is some really nice people. It was the same at Derby, so it will be nice to go back.

"What is important, though, is that we make a strong start to the season and get off the mark with a win."

From Coyle's perspective, he doesn't want to make too much of a fuss about this awkward derby. He only had a few words for it in his extensive pre-match conference

"It's like any other game. I've certainly been in many intimidating atmospheres away from home and nothing will change on Saturday. The Burnley fans are vocal, they're passionate about their side and that's one thing we identified when we were working there.

"But it's about us. We're looking to get back to the Premier League and we think we have enough quality to do that. We know how demanding the Championship is and the quality it holds, but it's a challenge that we're looking to be ready for. Everybody will feel there is an opportunity to get off to a flying start. You want to make sure you hit the ground running - to do that you're going to have to play very well. The better you play, the more chance you have of achieving those results and having the start the everybody craves."

Zat Knight also gave a good interview ahead of the match, which is worth a look, but for our purposes all we need is one sentence,

"It's been a long pre-season and we just want to get the ball rolling."

Let's hope it's rolling in the right direction!