It doesn’t seem that long ago that we had the last mad exodus here at Bolton Wanderers, it was a sad state of affairs when you have to let so many players go because they either aren’t good enough or you can’t afford to be competitive with their wage.
We’ve already seen/heard about Matt Mills seemingly joining the old enemy Doogie at Forrest - who have the extra bit of cash we don’t.
Obviously it’s not always the best move, we’ve already shipped Reo-Coker out of the country despite him being the best Premier League player around - and who knows where Zat Knight is.
What about the rest, the sorry souls that are going to be gracing the Macron pitch next year - if we didn’t sign a single body this summer, how would be fare?
Badly. In short. How ever if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from Neil Lennon this season is that he’s willing to give things a go, whether that be players, formations, tactics he doesn’t mind putting his neck on the line - plus he’ll punch you in the face if you disagree.
Lets start at the back, where the captain of a sinking ship has taken the last lifeboat and made his way to ‘better things’.
Between the sticks, we seemed to be screwed. It’s come out recently that Adam Bogdan is attracting suitors from the Premier League, and so he should be, he’s a really good goalkeeper however it seems to leave us with a pickle - camera save wonder Andy Lonergan will say his goodbye’s and Amos will return to the red side of Manchester which leaves us with one first team goalkeeper.
How many first team appearances has he made I hear you ask, well readers, that would be zero. On the other hand, Ross Fitzsimmons has kept two clean sheets at under 21 level so he’s more than qualified to take the gloves for next season.
If we move forward a few yards you’ll see David Wheater’s territory and its here for me that we’ve really got to pay close attention to - we’ll leave the youngsters alone for the time being because I’m going to take Oscar Threlkeld’s performances this season as his introduction into first team football as he consistently looked out of place and terrified on the ball - we could also blame the fact that every time he looked to the side of him, he didn’t have much to work with!
Quade Taylor showed signs in his brief spell at the back and may be someone we see more of next year, but again if you’re going to play someone this unexperienced you need someone to back him up. Okay, so our experience - Ream, Wheater, Dervite & Moxey which could actually be a back four, in League One.
Tim Ream is a great ball playing defender, he’s composed on the ball but over the last couple of years has become a much more rounded centre/left back and again, he’s got teams looking at him from the higher division but if we do manage to keep hold of him, getting a very good centre back partner for him may jus work - with Dervite and Wheater behind Taylor as back up.
Our midfield is my favourite part, mainly because every season I think Stuart Holden will come back from injury, the same player he was before the Evan’s tackle and he’ll single handedly take us to the promise land.
Obviously we need a back up plan to, which we sort of have at the moment, starting with one of the wonder kids that is Josh Vela, someone who I think under Lennon and his team can become a top central midfielder.
When I saw him being shipped to right back this season, something inside me died a little however at the same time I saw him thrive in a lot of games, being there gave him a lot of time on the ball which he used well, it made him move with the ball more which is something he didn’t do much of in his previous appearances and it also made him tougher which has obvious benefits.
We also have the gifted but injury-prone Mark Davies who is another player who could run the Championship if we could get 30+ games out of him, his ability to change games with his movement on the ball and the way he creates space for others - yes he can leave the space behind him exposed which is exactly the reason you do not have him as the holding role, he should be the furthest forward of the central three/two.
As we are well aware, we have plenty of useless back up in this area to; Trotter had all the promise for me without every delivering more than a lethargic run around, Danns has his moments and is a very hard worker however his ability lets him down far too many times within a game.
We also have the return of Spearing and Medo, two players who’s work ethic and talent wasn’t up to the standards of Lennon - both players have their strengths defensively however when in the team and playing the role in front of the back four they both experience a lot of the ball which is wasted with a 40-yard ball or a simple 5 yard pass being played into the wrong man.
I was once told that Spearing has two touches, a first touch and then a tackle and when you really watch, that is all he really has.
Can we sing; "We don’t want Jay Spearing back.." in the first game of this season? We didn’t see a lot of Rochinha, Twardzik and Slavchev who are all reasonably unknown, Diogo has shown some glimpses of what he might be able to do in the mould of a harder working Andre Moritz.
I don’t really want to discuss Liam Feeney. He annoys me.
Now that the free scoring Jermaine Beckford has been confirmed as departed (praise the lord) along with Craig Davies we’re left with a few gems and some deadwood.
The prodigal son Zach Clough looks like he didn’t do enough to grace Aston Villa’s bench for the time being but how exciting is he, before his injury he looked like the best thing since sliced bread.
He can do almost anything, he can run with the ball, beat players, score goals all without messing up his extremely good hair and he along with Vela could really be something. However, Mr Clough needs a partner, someone who can ‘do the dirty work for him’ and run defenders into the ground - probably a clone to ALF who did the the job so well last year whilst pitching in with a vast amount of goals at the time same time.
I can tell you who isn't the man for the job; Emile Heskey or Eidur Gudjohnson who can wipe their feet as they leave the club.
Oh, but thank you Eidur, I love you. We also have another Clough-sized striker in Max Clayton, another player who started playing really well before he was struck down by the Bolton curse and was sidelined for the rest of the season.
We need to replace the departed with two goalkeepers, one right back, two centre backs, one left back, three wide midfielders, one central midfielder and there strikers.