So it’s my turn to have a look at the season ahead and as always I’m both optimistic and excited – why wouldn’t you be, it’s Bolton Wanderers.
In my eyes, we still should be aiming for the top four in a league of this standard, yes the teams around us are strong and some have the resources we can only dream of however they lack a foundation – something that cannot be taken away from us.
Mr Freedman has been busy and it most of the right areas, he brought in some tried and tested players who have come in a done okay during their loan spells.
It’s a clever path to take, Neil Danns is a really good Championship player and has done well for us so it was the right move to bring him on a trial basis and make him earn the contract we ended up giving him.
Another strategy Dougie seems to take on board which is use what you know; Moxey, Fitz-Simmons and McNaughton are all players Freedman has had under his wing for a period of time and who he can seemingly trust.
The ‘key’ signing for me could be Dorian Dervite, I’ve looked into him in a lot of detail after looking into the Charlton fans’ dismay at their club allowing him to leave – he seems to fit the Gary Cahill/Craig Dawson mould being good on the ball, dominant in the air and commanding, we need that after last year.
Obviously we have a long way to go in the transfer window and if we sign a striker this post could change, we require a goal scorer.
Line up for the first game
Head - Bogdan; McNaughton, Mills, Dervite, Moxey; Spearing, Trotter, Lee, M. Davies, Danns; Beckford
It’s a pretty standard line up, we have the players to use Freedman’s preferred 4231 formation and it works well with the calibre of player we have however for me the players within that team seems rigid and uneventful – boring.
Heart – Bogdan; Moxey, Mills, Dervite, Ream; Spearing, Vela; Hall, M. Davies, Danns; Wilkinson
How exciting would this be, we have a lot of technically gifted players within that eleven as well as youth and a certain no-fear presence. I think McNaughton is at the stage where he should be cover only, and Moxey would be a strong right back in my opinion which opens up Ream to slot in at left back. This is Josh Vela’s breakthrough season, he was on the fringe of the first team for most of last season and got some good game time away from the Reebok – he’s been evident in the preseason team, he’s good on the ball, breaks down play well, would be a great addition to the 16 if not the 11.
Will Freedman last?
Yes. We’ve given him the chance, and I think he’ll take it.
I mentioned it previously, we really need someone who can put the ball in the back of the net – it prompted my decision to drop him from my ‘Heart’ line-up as I don’t think he’s done enough in the White shirt to merit a starting place every week.
Chris Wood seems to be the name on the sheet at the moment and I’d be really happy if we managed to secure his signature.
I feel he’s Conor Wilkinson, with the right mentor, in a few years – he’s quick across the ground, hits the ball early and knows where the goal is.
Sell to reinvest
I’d look at getting rid of two players, one obvious and one not so obvious.
I think we can all agree that Chung-Yong Lee has had his best day, mainly the header he scored against Birmingham City in the FA Cup Quarter Final and since then, he’s never been the same.
He doesn’t put the effort in on the pitch and no longer has the skill to make us overlook that. I think if we offer him abroad we could be looking at 2.5-3 million.
Secondly I’d look at moving on Dave Wheater – now don’t get me wrong, I really like Wheater and think he’s an ‘okay’ player but he’s now our 4th best defender and I don’t think he’ll like that.
We have Matt Mills, Dorian Dervite and Tim Ream who should all be in the team before him and I think if he knows this early on in the season and don’t like it, he’s1-1.5 million pounds that could be spent elsewhere.
End of season prediction
6th – Thank you very much.