Bolton Wanderers have had a bit of a contentious history with Brighton & Hove Albion over the course of the last year with the Seagulls proving to be very tough opponents for the Trotters. With Bolton traveling to the Amex this weekend in search of their first win, we wanted to know a bit more about the home side. We spoke to Brighton fan and Sports Interactive's (the developers of the acclaimed Football Manager series of video games / scouting databases / Azerbaijani Premier League managerial job boards), Simon Tipple.
1) How has the new manager, Oscar Garcia, been, and how does he match up to Poyet?
Oscar's got the full support of the fans, which is a great start because it was a pretty traumatic summer after losing to our rivals in the play-offs and then losing a manager who'd done a terrific job at the club. We've kept our passing football philosophy which is something the fans have grown to appreciate and it was important because we've continuity for the players. It would have been a harder transition if we were suddenly playing 4-4-2 and long balls up to Ulloa. That said, he's added more urgency and attacking intent to our play, which is a bit more exciting to watch. Perhaps the downside to that is we'll lose the ball a bit more and not dominate games as much as we've been used to under Gus.
2) How have you begun the new season?
It was a bad start, losing our first three games, but we were very unlucky to lose at Leeds and were comfortably dominating Newport in the cup until Calderon was sent off. The low point for me was the home game against Derby which we lost 2-1. I thought we were very poor that day but it's picked up since then. Winning at Birmingham was a big three points for us, to get the season up and running. We then comfortably beat Burnley at home before three draws on the spin. Millwall came to spoil the game and snatch a point, which they did but our two goalless draws at Reading and QPR were good points and encouraging for the rest of the season.
3) Who should Bolton fans watch out for in the Albion ranks?
The obvious candidates are both out. Leonardo Ulloa is suspended after his red card at Reading and Liam Bridcutt is recovering from a hernia operation. Will Buckley and Kazenga LuaLua, if they start, are both pretty explosive wide men who could cause you problems. Craig Conway joined on loan from Cardiff and did okay at QPR. It will be interesting to see how he plays on home soil if he starts again.
4) What have you made of Keith Andrews so far?
Very impressive. Surprised you let him go. Always wants the ball, sensible in possession, organizes the other players around him really well. He's certainly softened the blow of having Liam Bridcutt out in the early part of this season. Not having him available on Saturday will be a blow for us.
5) Give us a prediction for the weekend's game
We need to get the three points. Points away from home are good, but much better if they're followed up with wins at home! We know Bolton will be tough opponents though. I don't think anyone thinks you'll be down at the bottom for too long and you'll be desperate to get a first league win of the season. Another draw wouldn't surprise me at all but I think we'll edge it 1-0.