So Bolton Wanderers travel down to Bristol this weekend to take on their only relevant football team Bristol City. This is the first game since the sacking of Neil Lennon with Jimmy Phillips taking over at the helm. Everyone connected with Bolton will be looking for something to change in this brave new post-Lennon Sports Shield led era, but no doubt City will have something to say about that.
Once again we spoke to City fan Freddie Blake who also spoke to Dan earlier in the season (read here):
1. For much of the season it has been a question of which of us will go down first. Now it is clear Bolton are dead and buried, but do you think City will join us?
No, we have gone on a good run of form following the sacking of Steve Cotterill with a tactical switch from the disastrous 3-5-2 to a more stable 4-2-3-1 being at the heart of it. January additions including Lee Tomlin on loan from Bournemouth and Richard O’Donnell from Wigan have helped massively strengthen the starting line-up. It won’t be plain sailing but it certainly looks as if we will have just about enough.
2. Assuming you stay up are you happy with how this season has gone?
Not really. In retrospect some of the fans were certainly overambitious after walking League 1 but the terrible summer transfer window had us on the back foot from the start. That being said the only time I truly thought we might be going down was Cotterill’s last match against Preston (a 1-2 defeat).
3. What’s the ambition for City next season should they survive?
As always the club will state their ambition is to reach the Premier League, realistically mid table would be nice and some promising signings to build on. With the stadium renovation complete next season (Bolton fans will be in for a nice surprise in Saturday) and capacity of 27,000 with all the bells and whistles income should be higher allowing the club to compete on a more even footing with the big boys.
4. What do we have to look forward to in League One next season?
For you it will be a nice novelty. For City its awful, few forget the fact it took us 7 seasons (and 2 playoff failures as well as two more 7th placed finishes!) before we went up in 2007. Luckily last time wasn’t so bad. Don’t panic if you get off to a bad start, correcting a long term decline is hard, we had that problem when we last slipped from the Championship and started the next season without a win until November!
5. I know you and Dan talked Nicky Hunt earlier in the season but a man with his legendary status cannot be ignored, just how much do you think he would improve this current City team?
We do need a right back, have got a bloke just in on loan from Sunderland who seems decent but just no. A disgusting human being, apparently he is still playing in the Bananarama Conference, sounds like his level.
6. What do you make of Steve Cotterill’s sacking and Lee Johnson’s appointment? Both surprised me.
Cotterill had to go, he was a stubborn man who persisted with a losing formation and team. His refusal to change things led to our downfall and surprise surprise a tactical change has seen our form improve no end. The jury’s still out on Johnson but he needs another season at least and a couple of transfer windows. He wasn’t the worst appointment we could’ve made, let’s put it that way.
7. How has Johnson done since his appointment, City were impressive in his first game in charge against Ipswich Town has that continued?
He oversaw three wins on the bounce which was then followed by poor run of defeats. However, our last minute win a Fulham means we can start to see daylight between us and the relegation zone, Rotherham’s incredible run aside.
8. Can Lee emulate the achievements of his father, or even go one better?
The structure is there, unlike last time we made a Premier League push, Gary Johnson however had a bit of an aura around him which inspired belief.
9. What did you make of yet another big money move falling through in the form of Bolton favourite Zach Clough?
Can’t really blame him, Cotterill was a nutter so probably got scared off. Ironically it was a good thing for us as we brought in Lee Tomlin on loan instead who has made a big impact including scoring the winner against Fulham last week.
10. After Neil Lennon left you texted me saying ‘the curse strikes again’. Give us a little optimism and tell us City do badly against teams who have just sacked the manager!
Bolton had to change something, whether that was the right decision I have no idea but it will certainly shake things up and make you a little more unpredictable which is no good thing.
11. How will City line up on Saturday?
At Fulham we played a 4-4-2, normally we go with a 4-2-3-1. Refreshingly I actually have no idea (in contrast to the first 30 games where the same team played week in week out regardless of performance) but with our captain Smith still injured I’m guessing Joe Bryan will continue in midfield with Tomlin and Bobby Reid just behind Kodjia.
12. Who should we watch out for, apart from Wilbraham of course!
The old man is still going, played the full 90 vs Fulham. Complete donkey, our version of Heskey really. Out of left field I will say Marlon Pack, he’s really come on in the centre of midfield recently and just needs to add a few goals to his game. Nice to see a former focus of fans ire turn into a firm favourite.
13. Are there any Bolton players you are worried about facing?
Zach Clough, no doubt he will score against us after the transfer saga.
14. Please assure us Bolton fans you’re expecting a better match than we saw at the Macron earlier in the season!
It can’t be any worse can it? Mind you judging by our respective home and away forms it probably can!
15. How do you think the game will go and what score are you predicting?
2-1 to City, an own goal and a dodgy penalty will do me nicely (Bolton fans at last game between us at Ashton Gate will know what I am saying, karma!)
Once again we thank Freddie for his time!