First six games.
August 12th: Millwall 0-1 Bolton Wanderers
August 15th: Birmingham City 0-1 Bolton Wanderers
August 19th: Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Derby County
August 26th: Hull 2-1 Bolton Wanderers
September 9th: Bolton Wanderers 0-3 Middlesbrough
Very much a mixed bag and I don’t think anyone would turn their nose up at 2 wins and a draw from these fixtures. Leeds I could see going either way as well as the draw so I’ll be keeping that one off the betting slip. Millwall have recruited well, far better than us in fact so this could be a more difficult task than last year. A tough run of Derby, Hull and Middlesbrough will likely yield sod all in the way of points. 2 of them have just dropped from the Premier League and Derby have spent big the last few seasons. Looking at the rediculous sums that Middlesbrough are spending, I worry for a demoralising home rout.
Final League Position.
Whilst we can put out a fairly decent first eleven I do worry for the strength in depth of this squad. It’s a season packed with games and the usual injuries and form drops are bound to occur throughout. The team, as is, has enough quality to make things a contest though and I think that’s the best any promoted team can hope for. Added to that the team cohesion we seem to have we have a very decent chance of survival. Time to be optimistic: 20th
Derik Osede. It’s a long shot but I think he has it in him. Whilst his form dipped last year, I saw enough of him in the Championship to know he can cut it at this level. We have seen Jay Spearing leave and I think we’ll see Dorian Dervite found out once again if he ends up getting game time. These are both positions Derik has played in the past and both positions he has played well in. He is calm in possession, mobile and fairly physical given his football education. He will have competition from the boys from West Ham but if he gets his chance, I’m backing him to take it.
Signing of the Season.
Jem Karacan. I was really impressed with what I saw of him last year. His work rate was phenomenal and he had the quality on the ball to match. Someone phrased it nicely saying he’s the closest player to Holden we’ve had since he left and I couldn’t agree more. A proper box to box player who can do everything well. I doubt he’ll grab the headlines that Ameobi or Le Fondre will but he’ll be just as important.
I don’t think this should even be a conversation, should it? I feel like I’m insulting your intelligence by even having to write his name down.
Supersub of the Season.
Sammy Ameobi. No question in my mind. Ameobi does’t know what his own legs are doing half the time so it’s no wonder that defenders don’t. Whilst I he wont have the same impact as he did last year, I’m sure Ameobi will make some vital contributions off the bench just because of the sheer unpredictability of his play. Furthermore, he likes a long shot, is a direct runner and has pace and height to spare. In short; things happen when he comes on, normally more good things than bad.
What will Parky do?
We have 2 systems that most of the team is well drilled in now which is a nice surprise. Parky played both 4231 and 3232 last year both with success and I’m sure we’ll see the same this season. I imagine he’ll start with 3 at the back given how the last friendlies have shaped up but there is scope to change if that doesn’t work. We have good wingers in Buckley, Morais and Ameobi but that limits us to having just one striker (probably Madine) up-front. It’s a tough call and I’d like to see both used frequently even if that is unlikely.