A week away from the Leeds kick off and our new squad is forming. Last seasons squad has been stripped right back and Parky is now trying to fill the gaps. However, the ongoing EFL embargo limits us to 23 contracted first team Pro's, so getting each player right is crucial. Are any players on contract that's we or Parky wish weren't and are we justified in those views?
Serious relegation flops and previous misfits, Madine and Dervite, have earned themselves another chance after impressing in League One, so, reluctantly, must be left out. Whilst guaranteed shoe-ins, Moxey, Trotter, Proctor and Wilkinson have, thank the Gods, left. So who's left?
Ben Amos: His total inability to stop a long distance shot in Boltons relegation season, quickly followed by a disastrous year on loan at Cardiff, including a public humiliation from Warnock, results in a keeper with a badly damaged reputation. Parky has forlornly offered him out for loan, but as there is the millstone of a humongous wage around his neck, it is unlikely that a club will cover that for an out of form goalie.
However, this is the same keeper that performed so outstandingly for Bolton at the end of the 14/15 season. Fans clamoured for him to be signed to replace the outgoing and popular Bogdan. Trained in the Man Utd academy, representing England at every level from U16 to U21, has over 80 appearances in the top two divisions under his belt and is still only 27. In comparison, Alnwick has just 20 odd showings in the top leagues and blew hot and cold for us last year. Similarly so with Howard, who, incidentally has no experience of playing in the top two leagues. If Alnwick and Howard don't make the Championship grade, could Amos save the day, particularly if Parky can restore his confidence? Amos has a point to prove, undoubted talent despite those goalkeeping gaffes and isn't that the kind of player Parky is after? (Note: Article written prior to Charlton story breaking.)
Derik Osede: I must confess that I have a soft spot for the skilful ex Real Madrid academy graduate. Fans on social media seem undecided on what his best position is, being split between centre back or defensive midfielder. All are unanimous Derik is no right back though.
However, when discussing Derik with BN reporter Marc Iles, Parky stated that he doesn't see Derik as a centre back and more suited to the right back role! I love Parky but he needs to get in the sea with that opinion. Anyhow, we already have two right backs but currently have a space free both in central defence and midfield. The thing is that the club have an agreement in place for the Hammers loan combo of Burke and Cullen to fill those roles. Additionally the club have also been linked with Bruce and Lowe. Where does this leave Derik then, other than being pointed to the door it seems? I really hope Derik gets a chance to prove himself this season. Maybe the newly upgraded embargo, by denying the club the opportunity to bring in others, will give Derik that chance?
Darren Pratley: Parky is just the latest in a line of Bolton mangers that highly rate Pratley. Most probably our club skipper for the coming season, and vastly experienced having spent eight seasons playing in the top two divisions. Unaffordable salary aside, I have no doubt that Parky would have offered Prats a new contract if his current one had been up this summer. So why is he on here? Well, let's face it, our fans have never really taken to him. Running around like a headless chicken, a common complaint on fan forums or article comment pages. Prats never seemed to grip the midfield or gell with the defensive midfielders, especially Spearing. An ineffective captain of that disastrous relegation side of 15/16, Pratley was regularly put forward for interview to apologise for the latest lame surrender. Whilst Pratley was just one of a team of failures, his captaincy ensured he was in the fan spotlight. His stats seem to back this up. A successful five season stint at Swansea ended with 30 goals in 191 appearances, averaging 6 goals and 38 games a season. A similar five season stint at Bolton, shows just 12 goals in 160 appearances. This averages out at a miserly two goals and 32 appearances a season. Missing most of last season with a broken leg skews the appearance stats slightly but the goals speak for themselves. Missing a successful promotion campaign has also stopped Prats from redeeming himself, a la Madine for instance. A big season ahead then for the 32 year old and now senior Bolton player. Can he come good and win the fans over?
Chris Taylor: Lets not beat about the bush, Taylor is enemy number one with our fans. Failing spectacularly in a promotion season takes some doing and we all remember 'that' reaction by Taylor to the fans, during the clubs first ever defeat away at Rochdale. However, the 30 year old does have three seasons with 50 appearances of Championship experience playing for Millwall, then Blackburn. In comparison, Morais has zero experience and is a year older. On the other hand both Buckley and Ameobi have a far better pedigree and are also younger. Chris Taylor has a huge task ahead of him to both get fans inside and usurp Buckley, Ameobi and even Morais to get games to prove himself. Parky does seem to still have faith in Taylor so all is not lost, but in reality it's best for all if he moves on.
So that's it, in my opinion we have a far more capable squad than this time last season. A squad that is also far more able to work as a team. I don't forecast a disaster like the Lennon managed fiasco of last time round but whether this smalli squad is good enough to survive a Championship campaign is a difficult call to make.
So there it is, if you agree, disagree or believe there are others who fit the misfit category, let me know below the line.