Those who want to know how Bolton Wanderers will actually do next season should probably read someone else’s predictions, but here goes nothing.
I feel like I’m being optimistic here, and I still don’t see us on picking up all that many points… As I was bored on a train putting this together I have also looked through the achives we have access to at LOVs Towers to include some images of good times, and bad against, our first six opponents.
Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Leeds United
I can see Bolton bringing some momentum into the new season and maybe riding their luck like against Sheffield United last time out.
Millwall 1-1 Bolton Wanderers
This is a big early game between two likely relegation candidates. I think the spoils will be shared.
Birmingham City 2-0 Bolton Wanderers
I can see Birmingham kicking on a bit next season and this will be a hard game.
Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Derby County
One never knows what kind of shape Derby will be in these days. I think they will have too much though.
Hull City 3-0 Bolton Wanderers
A game like this will be a wake up call for the Wanderers against a likely very competitive Hull team.
Bolton 2-1 Middlesbrough
After a drumming in the game before I would like to think this team will show some fight and send a message that we are not here to be trashed every week on our way back to League One.
This could change with the embargo lifting, and certainly if there were even just a little inward investment. The optimist inside me says one place above the drop zone. The cynic, who I tend to listen too more, says we could be looking to break some records down the bottom of the table this season.
Having said that I think rather like last season it is hard to call, albeit that a hugely successful season will be staying up unlike last time where that was what we achieved, promotion.
With any luck there are a number of players in the squad right now looking to take this accolade. There are a number who struggled when they were last at this level and also those who have never really played above League One.
I really hope that the breakthrough player can be Josh Vela. He showed what he can do last season and comes back into the Championship with a point to prove at this level. If he can develop his game then he could be a real goal threat from midfield, which is valuable in any team.
This could be particularly important should Gary Madine, who will likely be the first choice striker, continue his general goalscoring trend. I’m not trying to criticise Madine here but simply suggest that his goal record shows that we will likely need goals from all over the pitch next season.
This will have to be with reference to those we have signed up to new contracts at this point as none of our external signings have really grabbed me yet.
When discussing whose contract I thought it would be most important to renew I chose Jam Karacan, albeit it he had already signed so I chose another to focus on. I was impressed by his performance in the last game of the season against Peterborough United and he appears to have the hunger to impress in the Championship, on his return to a league he has played in before.
He really impressed me with the shift he put in and with the attacking runs he made, of course including that for the opening goal in the aforementioned game against the Posh. He could like Vela be a key threat next season.
Adam Le Fondre will clearly be up there, particularly if we play him regularly and play to his strengths. He will have the benefit of a proper pre-season this time out rather than joining the club mid way through what, was for him, a mis jointed campaign.
In line with what I say above though I hope that Vela can push double figures, which, depending on how the season goes, could be enough to secure the accolade.
I’m going to assume that the starting line up on the opening day will at least closely resemble that which played Stoke City. That means that Sammy Ameobi and Adam Armstrong are the most likely contenders.
We know what Sammy can do so it is likely he will make an impact off the bench this season. For me, while still not knowing all that much about Armstrong, Sammy’s impact will be greater, even if that is just because he will probably score one headline grabbing goal from 35 yards.
Hopefully continue to steady the ship and be given time to get the team going in the Championship. It is going to be a hard season and there will be spells where people question whether he should continue in the job. Bolton probably can’t afford to go back down to League One, especially while seeking new investment. This could lead to knee-jerk reactions, but I hope not.