Here we go again.
It hardly feels like more than a week ago since the late, dramatic scenes which occurred on the final day of last season, but now we're back and ready to do it all again.
With each and every Bolton fan either brimming with anticipation for what the new season will bring or quivering at the nightmarish thoughts of yet more shattered hopes and mid-table mediocrity. Or both.
Bolton Wanderers will begin their long journey, of very probable lows and hopefully occasional highs, away to Watford on the 9th August. Are we ready? Is our squad good enough? Will we finally get out of the championship?
Well, lets find out.
We have yet to make the key, marquee signing we need to make the big push for the top end of the table. A striker is desperately needed, and they're hard to come by.
That is why the signing of Lukas Jutkiewicz was paramount to our season, but alas, the lure of Premier League football proved too strong, that and we have very little money.
So now, with only a matter of days until the season begins, we're still in the hunt for that illusive goal scorer, who could very much be the difference between another season of languishing in disappointment or an actual promotion push.
Lots of names have been branded about to fill that striker role, and out of all that have been mentioned, Chris Wood, would be my preferred choice.
He's very similar to Jutkiewicz in size, stature and playing style, so he'd be ideal to fill in a target man role and play upfront on his own, or be partnered with another forward, specifically Joe Mason, should he return. So he'd seamlessly fit in to the team.
But most importantly, he can score goals, probably even better than Jutkiewicz can, and that's what we need. Any type of deal would have to be a loan one, so it would probably leave us all heartbroken once again, but I'd take anything at this point.
How's The Squad Looking?
Despite the dire need of a striker, I believe our squad is looking very strong at the moment.
We have plenty of depth through out the pitch, we have numerous players who can play a number of roles which makes us a lot more flexible and their seems to be a much stronger sense of togetherness throughout the group, hopefully meaning we won't here rustlings of unrest from within the squad and we'll have a greater winning mentality.
Dougie Freedman has done some brilliant business this summer, particularly with adding to his defence.
The additions of Dorian Dervite, Dean Moxey and Kevin McNaughton, for me, makes Bolton's defence one of the strongest in the league. Re-signing Liam Trotter, Neil Danns and Liam Feeney also bolsters our midfield, and since they've all played at the club before they should have no trouble fitting right back in.
Of course, this could all change in an instant. All it takes is for a team to come in for Adam Bogdan, Mark Davies or another important player and then we're sailing up the proverbial shit creak, with a hole in the boat.
One final thing I believe Freedman has done well with his squad this summer is bring the youth players right into the group. It feels as if the likes of Connor Wilkinson, Oscar Threlkeld, Josh Vela and others are actually a part of the squad and aren't just tacked on for the sake of it.
The next step now however, is finally giving these young players a proper chance in the first team. But at least for now, they're there when needed.
Line Up For The First Game
I'm pretty certain that Freedman will line up his team in his trusted 4231, when we face Watford on Saturday. Which I can fully understand: we'll be away from home, facing a side which have strengthened considerably and is filled with dangerous players who will no doubt be able to hurt us with their pace.
There's nothing wrong with playing a little bit conservatively.
So I'd expect:
Kevin McNaughton, Matt Mills, Tim Ream, Dean Moxey
Medo, Jay Spearing
Neil Danns, Chung Yong Lee/Mark Davies, Liam Feeney
But personally, I'd hope for us to be a little more adventurous, obviously you don't want to throw all caution to the wind on the very first game, but I feel watching a side going for the attack and trying to play would fill the fans with a lot more confidence for the season to come, even if we lost.
So I'd go with a 4132:
Kevin McNaughton, Matt Mills, Tim Ream, Dean Moxey
Chung Yong Lee, Mark Davies, Rob Hall
Conor Wilkinson, Jermaine Beckford.
Will Freedman Last?
Well, he survived one of the worst runs in the history of the club, so it's going to have to take some thing pretty atrocious for him to leave.
So yes, I think he will last, something deep inside of me still believes that he is the man who can take this club forward again.
But if we start the season anything like the way we started the last, that last remaining flicker of belief will be duly snuffed out.
Sell to Reinvest?
I feel it's pretty pointless selling anyone at this point now, unless we have a certain replacement lined up.
We need to keep this squad together, not tear it apart so close to the start of the season.
Just look at Nottingham Forest, everything was looking good for them, now two of their best and most important players are being sold and it appears that they're in disarray.
We can't let that happen to us.
End of Season Prediction
Predicting the championship is so difficult because squads can change all the time and you never know which team will have which players at which time, but for Bolton it's quite simple.
If we manage to bring in a good striker who will score goals, I believe we can push for the play offs. If not, we'll probably finish 14th.
What ever happens, lets just hope we have a great season.