Neil Lennon took over a manager of Bolton Wanderers on 12 October, 2014. Read that sentence again. The Celtic legend and former Northern Ireland international has been in charge at Macron Stadium for less than three months. In that time period Bolton have risen from 24th (dead last) in the table to fourteenth. The side are unbeaten in eight matches. A run of four consecutive clean sheets has just ended, but in the twelve matches Lennon has been in charge, only eight goals have been conceded. In the eleven matches before he arrived, 21 goals were allowed.
It's more than the defensive improvement. It's more than the unbeaten run. It's how we feel about the matches. Think about it. We can't wait for the Huddersfield Town match to begin. The excitement, the sheer joy surrounding Wanderers, has not been seen since the days of Sam Allardyce and Jay-Jay Okocha. Supporters are delighted by each match, by each performance. Lennon has not just brought better football to Bolton, he has brought better atmosphere.
Even away matches are better. A lively, confident, large group of Bolton supporters make the journey these days, and I am expecting a few thousand to be in great voice in Yorkshire Sunday afternoon. One thing they will be singing is Craig Davies' name. Boxing day came too soon for the big forward, but he will be in the squad for Sunday, and it is a good thing too. As glorious as it was to watch Emile Heskey and Eidur Gudjohnsen turn back the clock on Friday, it is unlikely that the two 36-year-olds can do it again a scant 48 hours later. We could see a return to the fold for Conor Wilkinson, as he is the only forward on our books who can run for any length of time at the moment.
Huddersfield are struggling right now. They have only taken five points from a possible eighteen, and their biggest goal-scoring threats, Grant Holt and James Vaughan, are unlikely to feature. They are 19th in the table with 25 points from 23 matches, and have a goal difference of negative twelve. They have scored 29 goals, which is not bad, twelve teams have scored less, including Bolton. However, they have conceded 41 goals. No club in the Sky Bet Championship has allowed more.
Given the recent form of the two clubs, as well as the state of their respective defenses, it is hard to see anything here but a Bolton away win. There is a caveat though. Bolton lost their first five away matches in the league this season. That was under Dougie Freedman, but it hasn't been all champagne and caviar under Lennon. Two wins, two losses, and two draws is a pretty good away record in this division, but it means that the result is no sure thing. We will hope though.