It would be no big surprise if Bolton Wanderers started another season with a hopeful cup run. The Wanderers take on Shrewsbury Town for the first game of the Capital One Cup later today and we here at Lion of Vienna Suite can't help wondering, would a cup run lift us or crush us this season?
Like every other possibility for the club this season, there are pros and cons. I think that the pros outweigh everything else (within reason).
A cup run, no matter when it took place, would help the team find its rhythm faster, which, after the unstable preseason we had, is not a bad thing. A cup run later on in the season could ensure that we stay more conditioned than other teams, giving us a slight advantage during matches.
Even more than just being in rhythm and conditioned, a successful cup run would help boost the team's confidence and get the fans fully behind the team. It's a long season and it's only normal that sooner or later we could grow worrisome, but a solid cup run would help along the way. I don't doubt for a second that there's a fan that isn't behind the team 100%, but I think it could be time to realize that while having Jay Spearing would be a dream, it's up to us to cheer this team that we have and let Dougie Freedman take care of the rest. This team we have now, maybe it's not perfect, but it's our team and the door is wide open for possibilities; we just have to let them know unfailingly that we're ready for whatever this season brings.
On the other hand, the down side to a cup run could be over-conditioning and injuries. With the shape of this team, it's plausible that a cup run could tire us down and hinder us when it matters the most, which is something no one wants. On top of all of that, with so many of our key players injured, I don't even want to begin to think what we would do if more players were unavailable (*knocks on wood*); if we're cutting it close and are desperate for more signings, even just one more injury could be a death sentence for this season.
When it comes down to it, though, winning is never bad. Cup run or not, Freedman will manage this team so that every time they step onto the pitch the only thing on their mind is to play better and run faster and win. There's no use thinking to next week, or next month, or the end of the season. We have the goal of making it to the playoffs, but it all starts with one game, be it for a cup or for the Championship.
So bring on Shrewsbury, because we'll be as ready!