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Season Preview: Ed

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After all the World Cup and pre-season touring malarkey, the new season approaches & as the Whites gear up for the opener against Watford this Saturday there seems to be less pre-season optimism and more pre-season skepticism, are we really just set for another mid-table consolidation type of season? Here is my preview.

Clint Hughes

Our third successive season in the championship dawns.

Our hopes and dreams have been cut down to size, twice, leading to much more conservative estimates as to where we are going to finish come May.

Although this may not be one of the hardest things I've had to write, it's one of the hardest things I've had to accept, when it comes to Bolton Wanderers.

Key Signing


It's probably unsurprising that I also believe that Dean Moxey is our best acquisition so far this summer. The ex-Crystal Palace left-back is one of the signings many people are generally happiest about, another being the loan signing of Kevin McNaughton.

I think Moxey along with McNaughton will help make the defence, which has been generally troubled over the past 2 seasons, be more safe and secure.

Moxey brings another helping of experience to our defence, at 28 years old he is by no means past it and can aid the wanderers by helping to keep more clean sheets, a must if we want to progress.

Of course it's not just Moxey and McNaughton who need to step up to the mark. The likes of Chung-Yong Lee, Rob Hall and Jermaine Beckford all had disappointing campaigns in the 2013/14 season. Injury prone Mark Davies will hopefully be featuring much more this season as well.

All of these players need to be firing on all cylinders if we want to achieve a position which is desirable.

Ideal Signing


This section is so glaringly obvious, not just to Bolton fans, to everybody.

We need a striker, at the very least. Ideally we want 2 strikers, one with the pace off the mark and skill to dazzle opponents, feeding off the other striker. The other striker should be someone like Jutkiewicz, having lost out on the Juke to Burnley we need to look elsewhere to end our goal scoring woes.

Modou Barrow was an option, the pacey striker was trialing at the wanderers during pre-season and has expressed a desire to join the whites on a permanent deal, but amid reports of a £500,000 bid for the striker, Dougie swiftly cast away any rumors about this subject.

Keeping things realistic a pairing of Joe Mason & Danny Graham doesn't seem too far fetched, the former obviously much more likely to join, the latter would be a strong addition but the Sunderland outcast is more likely to join Middlesbrough or Leeds than Bolton, with no rumours linking the Whites and Graham.

Dougie will probably be searching in the loan or free agent market for the desired players due to budget restrictions but a goalscorer, loaned or on a permanent deal, is a must. In my opinion a better winger is also needed, as much as I like Feeney I don't feel he is good enough for our aspirations and unless Rob Hall can step up his game I think we need to strengthen there as well.

Starting XI Vs Watford


Due to my preview being later than many others', I will unfortunately have to cast away the injured Bogdan, as well as Mark Davies who is a doubt. I think we will go with Dougie's favourite 4-2-3-1.

Andy Lonergan

Kevin McNaughton, Matt Mills, Tim Ream, Dean Moxey

Jay Spearing, Liam Trotter

Lee Chung-Yong, Darren Pratley, Liam Feeney

BECKFORD

I would prefer Pratley next to Spearing and Mark Davies in the hole, as well as having Bogdan instead of Lonergan. In an ideal situation I would play 4-4-2 with some better strikers than currently at our disposal.

Predicted Finish


We have a decent squad but very little to offer up front, with the level of competition this year I see very little, if any progress from last years position, with the current squad. However, with the correct choice of additions in the time between now and the end of August I can foresee a jump in our final position.

With our current squad : 12th

With needed additions: 9th

Will Freedman last?


In short, yes. Gartside has re-confirmed this many times.

His squad rebuilding is very much the ideal plan Gartside had in mind and he would like to keep in place.

We would have to finish very near the relegation places or get relegated for this position to come under threat. These mid-table finish seasons are a small sacrifice the club has to make in Gartside's opinion, very much against the views of some of the bolton fans

Sell to reinvest?


It's no secret that Freedman is looking to the future with our squad with our average age of our usual match day squad now much closer to 25 years old.

Would I be willing or happy to see some of our high earners leave for the greater good of the club? Yes, I would, at this current time. A lot of our big names are out of contract in July 2015 so have one season to prove to Freedman and probably many more that they are too good to be released by the club.

However, I do worry some don't care enough to be desperate to perform at a high enough level to earn a new contract.