The summer transfer window came and went, ending just a week ago, and make no mistakes about it, Bolton Wanderers were busy. The club shipped out 13 players and brought in nine new ones (with Gary Fraser the only overlap between the two groups) over the last two months. Despite all of that, there was still disappointment from the fans in the air after the club did not do any business on deadline day or the weekend leading up to it.
That date bears significance because it came after Bolton's demolition at the hands of Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park in a match that brought all of the Trotters' problems to the fore. It was a match in which the forwards failed to score, the midfield failed to create, the wingers failed to widen the play, and the defenders failed to defend. It became more clear than ever before that Wanderers have a number of issues that have to be corrected and that the current squad may not be able to do that.
Any hopes of a move in at the death as the clock quickly ticked down to 11pm faded with increasing speed as Bolton could not move any players out on a permanent basis or otherwise. Dougie Freedman has made no secret of the fact that he will have to free up funds in order to bring players in yet those linked with moves away all stayed as the closing bell rung. In the weeks leading up to the close of the window, the likes of Matt Mills, Tyrone Mears, and David Ngog were reported to have prospective suitors but nothing came to fruition and all three remain Bolton players.
Despite the transfer window closing, there is still a ray of hope for Wanderers with the loan window now upon us. Bolton will not be able to make permanent moves either in or out but will have a chance to bolster the squad in a number of ways. While the senior players may not attract new homes through their quality of play or lack thereof, getting the youngsters some experience could free up funds for Dougie Freedman. The likes of Tom Eaves and Sanmi Odelusi are still very raw in professional football terms while Chris Lester, Zach Clough, and others are lacking any experience at all would have them be prime candidates for temporary moves away from the Reebok Stadium.
There is a lot of work for the Trotters to do in the window with several positions in need of new blood. First off is the left back, of which Wanderers only have one. Marc Tierney has no cover whatsoever in that position and should he get hurt, Bolton are left very short of options. Against Blackburn, Alex Baptiste filled the role in Tierney's absence and while the performance wasn't awful, it certainly wasn't convincing.
The striker corps is still not firing with Jermaine Beckford yet to get off the mark in the league, David Ngog not finishing, and Craig Davies barely shooting. Whether this means bringing in a new striker or someone to support them remains to be seen but it is clear that the status quo is not working.
Then, there's the defense, and specifically, the central pairing. The combination of Zat Knight and David Wheater are slow, clumsy, and fail to cover each other should one get dragged out of position (which is a certainty). The options that Bolton have on the bench in Tim Ream and Matt Mills won't go a long way to alleviate those issues. Bolton Wanderers need a quicker defender that can position himself to back up his partner a la Craig Dawson. Tim Ream has lacked the strength in recent outings to stake a claim for the spot while Mills isn't exactly quick himself.
Over the next few weeks, Dougie Freedman will be a busy man, searching for the temporary solution to Bolton's problems.