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5 Things We Learned: Bolton Wanderers 2013/14 - Part Two

Chris continues his look back at the 2013/14 season

Chris Brunskill

Are you getting bored of this yet?

In the second part of this series, I have taken a look back at the recently completed 2013/14 league campaign for my beloved Bolton Wanderers and had a bit of a ponder as to what (if anything) we can learn from it. In an effort to save you all from reading a LONG article I've decided to break this down into five handy and semi-easily-digestable portions.

This part revolves around whether extreme squad surgery is required in order to drag us back up from the doldrums of this season.

Whether you agree or disagree.....feel free to use the comments box below.


2) Squad Surgery is Essential

Essential and inevitable.

Dougie Freedman loves wheeling and dealing. Since his arrival at the club in October 2012 he has overseen 29 incoming players, and 28 outgoing.

This high turnover of players is of course linked to the previous regimes and their excesses, and so some of these transfers will have been unavoidable and in some cases essential.

However, the underperformance of the squad this season will invoke change over the Summer. This, coupled with the manager's fondness for tinkering (the Sheffield Wednesday game saw just four players start who began the opening game of the season against Burnley) points towards yet another revamping of the squad.

I don't blame Dougie Freedman for this - on FM I absolutely love the buying and selling of players. Especially when Sunderland give me a million quid for Darren Pratley.

Of those 29 incoming and 28 outgoing transfers, 20 of each came between the end of the 2012/13 season and the end of the 2013/14 season. Big changes. Lots of frees and lots of loans, with the odd youth signing there alongside marquee signings such as former Liverpool man Spearing - but again, lots of changes.

So in which position do we require this squad surgery?

I'd suggest that the goalkeeper position is fine. Adam Bogdan has returned from injury and a loss of form in a very encouraging fashion. He now looks dominant when the ball comes into the box, and of course his shot-stopping has never been in doubt. I'm happy with him continuing between the sticks.

Full back is worrying area. I haven't seen enough of the injury-struck Marc Tierney to be confident in saying that we are good for left backs, but I'll let him have a fair shot next year.

Right back however is a huge concern. I would love to think that Oscar Threlkeld or similar can come in and make the shirt his own, but I fear that we may require more experienced cover. I certainly do not want to see Alex Baptiste as the first choice next season.

Centre halves. Hmm. Tim Ream, Matt Mills and David Wheater are three solid Championship centre halves. Do we need another one? Probably. I believe Zat Knight should be released at the end of his contract and to my knowledge our burgeoning academy is not blessed with too many potentials at this time.

Midfield - we have loads of midfielder. I fully expect us to lose Chris Eagles and Andre Moritz at the end of the season, and God only knows what will happen with Stuart Holden. Chung Yong Lee is another likely candidate to leave given his contract expires in a year's time, as well as him being a relatively sellable asset.

There is a question mark over Mark Davies' future at the club, whilst Medo and Jay Spearing are pretty much locked-on to be here come August. This is perhaps the area in which we will see most reinforcement.

Up front is another troublesome position. We've lost Joe Mason and Lukas Jutkiewicz, whose partnership in February and March catapulted us away from the relegation mire and into lower-mid-table safety.

That just leaves Jermaine Beckford plus the returning Craig Davies and Tom Eaves as strikers. I would like to see at least two new strikers join the club. Of course Juke would be my first choice with smaller more nippy striker alongside him, Joe Mason perhaps, although Cardiff's own relegation might put a halt to any plans of bringing the previously on-loan striker to Bolton.

I'm quite happy for Zach Clough et al to be given their breaks, but I don't want to be in the position of having to rely on Beckford and Eaves.

So yeah - lots of squad surgery required. £20m should cover it, Eddie.