An exciting end to last season and the most enjoyable world cup of my lifetime has put a nice sheen on the summer. However, its back down to the grind and thoughts must turn to the big kick off tomorrow.
What else do you think we need before the season starts?
For the resources we have I feel the recruitment hasn’t been too bad. Parky is still making noise about wanting another centre forward, at the time of writing Joe Garner looking the number one target. However, I’d prioritise pace at the back in terms of another centre back and left back. Though Luke Murphy could be a shrewd signing I still feel we need at least one more central midfield player as well, preferably some proper back up for Jason Lowe in the holding role.
First Six Games
11th August: Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Bristol City
18th August: Reading 0-0 Bolton Wanderers
22nd August: Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Birmingham City
25th August: Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Sheffield United
1st September: Preston North End 2-0 Bolton Wanderers
Parky must break the spell of the classic Bolton Wanderers slow starts, and that includes going to West Brom and giving a good account of ourselves. Even a brave opening day defeat against good quality opposition could set the tone. I predict Bolton to grind out a couple of points against Reading and Bristol, before finding home comforts against hapless Birmingham and hopefully a plummeting Sheffield United. A tidy Preston side will bring us crashing back to Earth come September, but this would be a very good start for us.
Final League Position
I’ll go crazy and 18th. This is a better squad than last season, however I’m not sure how much higher standard the Championship is. I feel that jettisoning the older players, no matter how fondly regarded by fans and players, and replacing them with younger and hungrier players with a point to prove is a step in the right direction. My prediction hinges on Parky and the Andersons getting it right in the loan market, there are gaps to fill in the squad but the loan market never gets going until well into August anyway, so there is plenty of time.
Hopefully Hall gets his loan move to experience real competitive football, so I discount him. Joe Pritchard looks a tidy acquisition, but I really know too little to give any strong feelings about him. The player who needs to step up this season is Josh Vela. It looks likely he will be deployed as a box to box midfield player, where in theory his physical attributes should be best suited. He needs to be engine room that caused Liverpool to show interest in all those years ago.
Signing of the Season
Some pace and guile has been added through Otzumer and Widschut, who I am excited about watching. However, I’m going to look at the less glamorous Josh Magennis as the man who could do a job for us. Why? Because he fits Parky’s mould of what he wants from a forward. He is big, strong and, from all accounts, he appears to have an excellent attitude and work rate. We know that players like ALF, Otzumer and Ameobi all need space to play in, and a battering ram like Magennis could give these players valuable space to do the damage. I don’t think he’s likely to score many goals and just hope the fans don’t get on his back too much when he misses the chances. Let’s remember how effective Super Kev and Henrik Pedersen were without ever really having outstanding goal scoring records, hopefully Magennis can do the same.
As long as he gets the game time and some service ALF will score goals.
Supersub of the Season
I think, at least at the start of the season, Otzumer won’t be starting. So I’ll predict him as our super sub who’s game changing bits of magic will force his way into Parkys starting eleven.
Will Phil Parkinson be still be our manager come the end of the season?
I think he only won’t be if he has an absolute stellar start to the season and someone with a bigger budget takes a shine to him (probably Leeds United after Bielsa loses his head). Once again, I’m impressed at how united he has kept the squad during a somewhat turbulent pre-season and I’m interested what he can do with a squad that contains better ball players than either of the previous squads he has had at his disposal.
Which old, semi-legendary player will we signed in Winter?
Well he’s not that old but for me he’s already in the washed-up pile, as I said in my Championship predictions we will go in for Saido Berahinho in a desperate attempt to get pace into our forward line. Just like Nicolas Anelka, he will be amazing and Villa will throw money at him for us. I’m dreaming of course and would much rather have Peter Crouch.