This week, all the writers here at LOV are going to try and predict how the season will go for Bolton.
Next to give his predictions, it’s Reece:
Best Signing - Nathan Delfouneso
Antoni Sarcevic and Eoin Doyle have been touted as the two best signings of the fifteen new lads that we have brought in so far this season. But, in my opinion the addition of Nathan Delfouneso to the squad could well be a very shrewd one. There is no doubt that Eoin Doyle is a natural goalscorer, but this seems to be when he is given the free role up front to almost do anything he wants. Nathan Delfouneso will allow Doyle to do exactly that.
The former Blackpool man is an energetic forward that likes to press the defence, similar to that of Jerry Yates who was Doyle’s strike partner last season at Swindon Town. Delfouneso will allow Doyle to be the fox in the box type that will always get goals. Whilst a lot of fans expect Doyle to score a shedload this season, I think we could see many of these both created by and influenced by Delfouneso’s on and off the ball antics.
His goal record was something that was questioned by many Wanderers fans after the announcement of his signing, but with five goals to his name in pre-season, I think we could see him get double figures this season.
Top Scorer - Eoin Doyle
Will we finally see someone break that dreaded twelve goal target for the first time since the early naughties? I certainly hope so. Eoin Doyle was in fine form last season for Swindon netting 25 goals in 28 games. That is a staggering return and one which I really hope he can emulate in a Wanderers shirt this season. I expect Doyle to get around 18 goals this season, but I would like to see him burst through the 20 mark.
What Game Are You Most Excited For?
All of them and none of them at the exact same time. Let’s face it, especially for the younger generation of Wanderers fans, it’s going to be very weird watching Wanderers in League Two. But, this is where we find ourselves so let’s try and enjoy it. As much as we can say the local games such as Salford and Oldham could bring added pressure and bite, they are not our rivals and I’d like to think we won’t play them again in the league after this season.
Realistically, I just want to see score at least five in one game. We haven't done that in a league game since the away victory at Leeds United in March 2014.
Opposing Player I’d Love - Stephen Humprhys
Humprhys is a player I’ve been a fan of for some time. The 22 year old Southend striker is one of very few that caught the eye during The Blues’ awful 2019-20 campaign. If Wanderers weren't currently under an embargo, he would have been a player that I would like to have brought in. I think Humprhys’ playing style would be a great accompaniment to Eoin Doyle. Despite Humprhys’ size, he is deceivingly quick and is great with the ball at his feet.
It does not surprise me that Humprhys has been linked with a large number of League One clubs and I expect Southend will probably cash in on him before his contract expires next summer.
Key Player - Brandon Comley
I think Comley is a signing that has gone under the radar slightly. The addition of Comley to the midfield trio of Antoni Sarcevic and Ali Crawford will allow the latter duo to have the more advanced, creative role that they both enjoy. I don’t think there is a more technically able midfield in the entire division which can compare to the aforementioned three. I think Comley will play a huge part in Bolton’s season and will often be the catalyst for Wanderers attacking play. We will see him drop deep to show for the ball from his centre halves, work the ball up the pitch through Sarcevic and Crawford into the strikers and also link up with the Wing-Backs to exploit the flanks. His pass completion stats alone in League Two last season were very impressive. He is a signing that has really impressed me in the reports we’ve had from the friendlies, I hope he can continue the consistency into the season.
First Six Games Prediction - 11 Points
Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Forest Green Rovers
Colchester United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers 3-0 Newport County
Harrogate Town 1-3 Bolton Wanderers
Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Grimsby Town
Bolton Wanderers 4-1 Oldham Athletic
Final League Position - 3rd
I think we will go up automatically and I also expect us to do so, but I don’t think it will be easy, not in the slightest. As Lee mentioned in this week’s LOV Pod, the teams that Wanderers will be coming up against this season will likely have been playing with each other for years, certainly longer than this Bolton squad have. This means they’ll have the understanding of how each other like to play and their behaviour on the pitch. This is something Wanderers do not have yet. It will come, but it will take time to build these on-field relationships.
That being said, and perhaps something we haven’t really been affected by, COVID-19 has had a huge effect on some of the clubs in this division. Some key players have had to be let go simply because clubs have had to cut as many wages as possible. We have benefitted from this. I don't think Cambridge or Colchester would have gotten rid of George Taft and Brandon Comley, respectively, if it wasn't for the ongoing pandemic and the need to cut costs during the financially testing time.
When looking at the squads in the division, you have to say Bolton have at least one of the top three strongest in League Two. If we can get the system embedded like Evatt is asking for and the players can gel together quickly on the pitch, there is no reason why we shouldn't be getting promoted. I do think however that first place could be a step too far. So, I will go with third. I really do not want to go through those dreaded play-offs.
Any Other Business Prediction?
I think we could well see another four in yet. I think Evatt will bide his time now. There is no real rush to get all of our business done before the season starts. I think we will bring in another attacker before our first league game against Forest Green. But, I think Evatt and his management team will be using the next few weeks and the vast amount of games to make some judgments on whether he can see certain players fitting into his system.
I think we could well see the likes of Faal, Brockbank and Darcy all go out on loan, should they fail to find their role in Evatt’s desired system.
In terms of who I think we’ll bring in, I've got a feeling we might get a big name for this level. I’m not talking a Charlie Adam, but more a Sarcevic, Crawford or Doyle type. Someone who can come in and really change the team and offer something different to what we’ve currently got.
I think we desperately need a replacement for Dennis Politic. We need someone who can come on in the second half and create something from nothing or change the dynamic of the game completely.
I think we’ll bring in a couple of strikers, a midfielder and an exciting loanee or two that we can all fall in love with again like we did with Thibaud Verlinden last season.
Salford to be punished. We’re talking about the EFL here, they’re going to go after someone’s points total - aren't they? I think that we could see Salford really get caught out with how much they’re paying certain players. It’s no secret that they offer out huge wages and got the majority of their business done before the salary cap came in to prevent their targets going elsewhere. But, I think this could be the year where there is a closer inspection to what is going on with their payroll and I wouldn't be surprised to see them get some form of punishment.