Bolton Wanderers have a lot of players out of contract this summer. That means they will have the opportunity to wipe the slate clean if they like. It also means they can roundly reward the success of last season with new contracts to many of the players who made an immediate return to the Championship possible.
For me there is a balance between the two. We need the continuity to try and continue last seasons form. We also though need to create the space in the squad and budget to try and add some further players who are proven in the Championship or can add real quality from the leagues below.
This means that as a general rule I would be looking to keep on the players who started the last game of the season with a few exceptions. My thinking being that not only do we need continuity but we will also need cover and on our budget we have to be realistic about who we can bring in from that perspective who would be any better than the current lot are.
As such I would be looking to retain the likes of Andy Taylor, David Wheater, Lawrie Wilson, Jem Karacan, Jay Spearing, Adam Le Fondre and even Gary Madine. Like I said there are some exceptions. If we are keeping Wheater and with Mark Beevers of course still under contract we need space to try and add a higher calibre centre back so we should let Dorian Dervite go. This is because ideally we will have a new partner for Beevers next season. But if that doesn’t work out then we could most certainly do worse than Wheater and continuing a successful partnership.
In the striker department, hopefully we can move on Connor ‘I’m going to celebration promotion if I helped’ Wilkinson and hopefully Jamie Proctor can find a loan side again. But beyond that keeping Madine and Le Fondre for me is a no brainer. Yes Madine has struggled in the Championship before. There are some mitigating circumstances you could argue, like he was in a struggling team. But I’m not going to bother with those, and honestly I don’t buy a lot of it. The bottom line is he is Phil Parkinson’s kind of striker. Yes in an ideal world we will bring a better player in to fill this role. But if we can’t or the new supposedly better player doesn’t work out then surely we can once again do far far worse than Madine. I mean for starters we have seen Proctor and Wilkinson try to play football.
The same applies all over the squad. Although there is no doubt that no one is irreplaceable coming into next season we need to be careful not to tear up a squad with a winning mentality entirely. If new faces don’t work out we would regret letting too many of those who delivered success last season go.