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January Transfer Window Assessment: Hello Bolton Wanderers 2.0

Could signings of Clough, Walker and co force Parky away from ‘hoofball’?

Bolton Wanderers v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One
Zach’s Back! Are there positives amid the perceived January transfer window gloom?
Photo by Terry Donnelly - CameraSport via Getty Images

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last week, you’ll know a certain badboy, kitchen appliance nicknamed, suddenly goalscoring striker has departed Bolton Wanderers.

In the aftermath of his transfer into deepest darkest Wales - where I have no doubt whatsoever he will fail to replicate the form he’s enjoyed over the last few months - the general reaction of Wanderers fans has been negative.

From fearing the sale confirms relegation to anger at the Chairman for failing to bring in a direct replacement, most Bolton fans don’t appear to be too chuffed.

True, it’s hard not to be disappointed. But, we have received a substantial fee - how much exactly we still don’t know, but we suspect anywhere between £4 million and £6 million - for a striker we all thought was garbage in League One.

While Ken Anderson hasn’t been able to replace the big striker like for like - not for want of trying if you believe the rumours out of the club - he has brought in several interesting loan signings that could shake up our style of play. And that could be good news for any “hoofball” haters out there.

Attacking threat

In theory, without having seen them play together and without knowing their level of match fitness, the additions of Zach Clough and Tyler Walker are very exciting. They add a bit of zip, pace, a threat in behind the opposition’s defence and the potential to do the unexpected - all of which we’ve been sadly lacking all season.

They potentially give our attack a completely new look, and should encourage us to keep the ball on the floor and play football.

Remember how well Zach used to link up with Josh Vela? Well, lining those two up in behind Walker, who I suspect will step up to lead the line, alongside Sammy Ameobi on the right wing gives us a different type of threat than we’ve been used to. There’ll no longer be any point in hoofing long balls out of defence, because it’ll just come straight back at us.

And, could this herald a return to the side and a return to form for a certain Adam Le Fondre?

Defensive support

The return of Reece Burke for the remainder of the season is great news for us, and much more important than re-signing his West Ham United teammate Josh Cullen. Burke also plays into that idea of a more passing-focused Bolton, and has the ability to step out of defence and set up attacks rather than looking long at every attempt.

A more intriguing, left-field signing is that of Jon Flanagan. I didn’t really think we needed strengthening at full-back given the form of Mark Little and Antonee Robinson. So whether his signing is designed to redress the squad’s badboy balance or not remains to be seen but, if we can get him fit and on form then we’ll have a real player on our hands. After all, this is a player lauded the ‘Scouse Cafu’ by Liverpool fans and the Brazil legend himself just a few years ago.

Formation change?

Flanagan’s addition, alongside Burke, could easily see us return to Parky’s favoured 3-5-2 formation of last season, which also saw us earn our only away win of the season at Sheffield United in December. That could add defensive stability while giving us more attacking freedom, in particular allowing us to get the best out of Clough in a floating attacking role off the frontman.

In short, the loss of our top scorer is of course a blow. But it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it could open up a range of opportunities for the remainder of the season and might encourage a more attractive brand of football.

What do you think Bolton fans? Am I the only one looking for positives, or are we doomed? And do you still want a direct target man replacement? Feel free to let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below.