Bolton Wanderers chose to open their preseason with a tour of Scandinavia featuring three matches against local sides. Results aren't particularly important in this sort of exercise, but Wanderers did manage to draw and win in their first two matches. They suffered their first defeat of the campaign on Wednesday, when they were beaten 3-2 by Swedish side Mjallby AIF.
We all know manager Dougie Freedman prefers to play a 4-2-3-1 formation, and that is what we have seen from the start in all three matches so far. In fact, the starting XI against Mjallby felt a little bit like what we might see against Watford FC on August 9th.
Andy Lonergan was in goal. For me personally, Adam Bogdan is our number one, and there is not any dispute, but he hasn't played yet this preseason. Freedman has already said that the Hungarian is a couple of weeks behind, fitness-wise. Well, the season starts in three weeks. I won't be surprised if Lonergan is in between the posts on the first Saturday of the season.
The back four was made up of Kevin McNaughton, whose season-long loan from Cardiff City just became official, Tim Ream, who just signed a new three-year deal, Matt Mills, and Dean Moxey. That feels like it is going to be our first choice defense.
The holding two was Jay Spearing and Neil Danns. Most people do not think of Danns as a traditional holding midfielder, but I think Dougie likes his aggression, as well as his versatility. It would not be surprising to see Medo Kamara in this spot when the season starts, but I think Freedman would prefer to start with Danns, who is more attack-minded.
Th attacking three featured Rob Hall on one side, Liam Feeney on the other, and Mark Davies in the middle. I don't see any doubt about Davies, if he is fit he plays. Chris Eagles is gone and Chung-Yong Lee is coming off of two disappointing seasons and a disappointing World Cup. It's hard to envision a scenario where Feeney and Hall don't start on the wings. The only other option is to play central midfielders out of position. Last season we saw, Danns, Davies, Darren Pratley, and others spend time in a wide midfield position.
Finally we have the strikers. Jermaine Beckford started this match, and he scored a goal. Craig Davies came off the bench. Freedman has basically rotated who starts of the two so far. And remember, the two sums up our entire forward line. There are no other options at the moment. And even if we sign a forward soon, he is unlikely to be ready to play 90 minutes on August 9th.
Perhaps there will be some revelation in the next couple weeks, but most likely, Dougie Freedman has shown his cards. WE have a very good idea what the 2014-2015 Bolton Wanderers will look like.