With the season three games from coming to an end, the possibility of the playoffs has electrified the atmosphere at the Reebok. After a disappointing 3-2 loss to Leicester this past Tuesday, the Wanderers have let go of their number six spot and (hopefully, just for a brief time) let go of their spot in the playoffs. A win in the last two games (Cardiff and Blackpool) would surely give Bolton a fair shot at redeeming their number six spot, and maybe even higher. If the Wanderers manage to pull that off, including a shocking win over Cardiff, the number one team in the Championship, the question is, are the Wanderers really ready to be promoted?
Promotion is nothing bad. I'm sure whatever your feelings are towards the health and competency of the squad, everyone would be more than happy to be promoted back into the Premier League. But the real worry on my mind is how well would this team fare? With Coyle gone and Dougie Freedman making the changes we have all been dying to see, will the next season in the Premier League end like our last?
Freedman is what I would very well call a god-send. Before he came, I was looking to get comfy in the Championship. His coaching has truly been a "breath of fresh air" and hopefully it's one that can bring us back to the top. Freedman himself is confident the Wanderers' consistent performance will undoubtedly end with a playoff berth. It will be a hard feat to achieve with an ever-growing list of season-ending injuries, but I'm sure Stu Holden's return would compensate for that, at least partially. Being promoted would give the team more challenges and see how his coaching tactics work against a number of teams.
Plus, who doesn't want the bit of glory that comes with being promoted?
On the flip side, I wouldn't be disappointed if we didn't make it to the playoffs or even if we made it and subsequently lost. I'm a firm believer in being a solid team and I think that another year in the Championship adjusting to a new coaching staff and learning to play as a whole unit would benefit us. Of course, I'd expect complete domination of the fixture table if we stayed.
My only concern with not being promoted would be that we could get into a slump of just consistently ending up falling just short every single year-and I think it's better to cut that out as an option before it even happens once. I want the team to be consistently challenged and not just slack off, because that is where we lose the drive to win as a whole.
Either way I see it, I'll want what's best for the squad as long as at the end of the day we're progressing, winning and becoming an overall better team. When everyone is finally healthy and playing at the level we know (and expect) they can play, I think that regardless of what league we end up in, this team will be one that's hard to beat.