Just about everyone who writes about sports makes predictions constantly. In fact, everyone who follows sports with even mild interest makes predictions constantly. However, most people don't write them down. We at Lion of Vienna Suite are not most people. Not only are we writing our predictions down for all to see (all with an internet connection anyway), but we will revisit these prognostications intermittently throughout the season to find out how we are doing.
First up is Elliot Turnbull:
We need to address our form away from home. If we can continue to make the Reebok a fortress by picking up those crucial 1-0 wins then we should be high up the table. On the other hand, our away form last year was awful to say the least. If we want to be around the top 6 Dougie Freedman has to address this inconsistency. Winning 4 out of 19 games away from the Reebok is not acceptable and will have to change.
Despite this dire winning percentage on our travels, Elliot's prediction is a somewhat optimistic one:
I can see Bolton Wanderers having a season like Crystal Palace next year. I'm fully confident that we will gain a playoff spot, and on our day Bolton can beat anyone in this league. The question is, do we have the consistency and the depth to gain automatic promotion?
Elliot goes on to answer his own question:
I don't think that automatic promotion is realistic for the whites. For me, Queens Park Rangers will win the division with Nottingham Forest and Reading snapping at their heels. I can see the surprise package this year being Ipswich after our nearly new manager Mick McCarthey has successfully turned things round with the Tractor Boys.
Elliot is not alone in his concern for our away form. Liam O'Meara had this to say on the subject:
I feel that we are running thin of both quality & quantity at the back. I believe we will see this being picked apart more often than not away from home. Promotion may be our target, but I fear we may have to battle through the playoffs. I feel that Medo Kamara & Chung-Yong Lee in particular have big seasons ahead, and if these two hit a run of form we should have far too much power for this division to deal with.
It can't all be bad news. Liam does predict the Wanderers will finish fifth. And what about Anna Nuzzolese?
I can see Bolton finishing as high as 4th this season. We've got a solid group of players and if we can make them mesh and work together, there's no telling how far we could go.
Anna also believes that Freedman's backroom changes will cut down on the injuries that have been such a problem for the past three seasons. Hopefully this will bear itself out regarding the knock Chris Eagles took over the weekend.
Chris Manning is looking for evolution throughout the season from our club:
I think that the Bolton Wanderers you will see this season will be a different beast to that which began last year under Owen Coyle. The fitness work done in the summer by Dougie Freedman and his team will provide us with a solid base. Transfers-wise I believe that we have made some sensible signings. I would expect us to start on a strong footing and would hope to be in the top six by Christmas. Additions made following the January window will then hopefully allow us to kick on. Playoffs should be achievable, and promotion is essential. I think we'll finish in 4th or 5th spot, then whup Forest 5-0 in the Final at Wembley.
That leaves two, Mark Yesilevskiy and myself. We are both very concerned about the defending. I'll let him explain:
I'm holding out hope that the defense will get it together after an unsuccessful pre-season and keep Bolton Wanderers in promotion contention. This is going to be a tough year in the Championship with Wigan, Reading, and QPR all spending in the summer and the likes of Nottingham Forest and Watford adding to their ranks. I hope that Wanderers can finish first or second but a play-off place may be more realistic.
Promotion has to be the goal simply for the financial boost that it would bring to a club with ever-increasing debt. A place in the Premier League would also allow Dougie Freedman to build his squad the way he wants to without being a slave to free/deeply discounted transfers. I, for one, am extremely interested in what Freedman can do with actual spending power behind him. Anything short of going up would add extra burden in the years going forward for Wanderers.
I am the most pessimistic of our staff. I have thought long and hard about where Bolton will end up, and I keep coming back to the same thing as Mark; The defending. It has been horrible for a solid three seasons now. We have brought some players in I know. But the problems have had more to do with organization, communication and focus than they have with physical abilities and footballing talent. There was slight improvement last spring, which many attribute to Craig Dawson. But if you look at the amount of goals allowed, the amount of shots conceded, and the ease with which those shots were created, it's hard to say we have actually improved. If a defender is late closing a forward down, but the forward drags his shot wide, that is not skill on the part of the defender, it is luck.
My prediction is conditional. If Craig Dawson returns, or if Dougie Freedman signs a different central defender with equal effectiveness, then I can see Bolton challenging for automatic promotion. On the other hand, if no further additions are made to the defense, I think we will struggle to make the playoffs. It pains me to say this, but I just don't have any faith in our current defensive pairing, and no one on the bench is any better.
There you have it. Our season predictions. Feel free to torment us throughout the season as they fail to materialize.