This week, all the writers here at LOV are going to try and predict how the season will go for Bolton.
Next up is Ian Firth:
I’m going to go a bit left field as to the reason why but for me it’s Ali Crawford. Whilst Bolton had finally managed to pry the the hugely ambitious and highly rated Ian Evatt from the Barrow managers chair a few days earlier, the Crawford signing was the first real statement by our club that they really did mean business in regard to going for promotion this coming season. Despite missing a big chunk of last season through an unlucky injury, Crawfords quality shone through in the attacking midfielder role. He is a great passer, scorer of a few worldies and all round action man in the middle of the park. Crawford was one of the few successes in a season we mostly want to forget. The fact that a player of Crawfords quality was willing to turn down League One opportunities and stay with Bolton to be part of Evatts revolution, says a lot about him and our clubs ambitions.
Eoin Doyle. I mean, who else really? Evatt knows what makes Doyle tick and plays a formation/style that has Doyle drooling. So long as Eoin stays away from a bad injury (fingers crossed) he’s going to get the service. So as he proved with Swindon last season, he’ll get the goals. A brilliant second signing for Evatt. A player whose been there and literally got the league champions trophy to prove it.
Game you’re looking forward to most
Has to be Tranmere. The preseason talk has mostly been about Salford’s all star signings continuing the minnow clubs rise on the back of a rich owner. But for me Tranmere were unlucky to get relegated, are a very well run club under the stewardship of the Palios clan and have been quietly working in the background making some decent signings. As with Bradford and Port Vale, they should be plying their trade in League One but unlike Bradford in particular, I think that the will be real promotion contenders. Nevertheless, the real reason is that needle that still exists to this day for a certain generation of Bolton fans, me being one, who get huge enjoyment when Wanderers do one over Tranmere. Time doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. Not forgiven either of those clowns, Aldridge and Welsby, nor forgotten that playoff final. Hugely enjoyed Big Sams revenge and effectively sending them down last season and hoping for more this season coming.
Opposing player you’d love
Jordon Turnbull. Back in July it seemed that the plan was to build a team of mostly ‘moneyball’ recruits around a spine of players who were at their peak and had starring roles in recent L2 promotion winning teams. Doyle and Sarcevic were signed up and we were reliably informed that Turnbull had been shown around the stadium. Alas he ended up at Salford. Defence is the one area that worries me. Baptiste is a quality player but now considered a veteran unlikely to be available for all the games. Taft, Delaney and Santos stats add up apparently but they still have question marks against them from a success point of view. They could come good but similarly they may not. For me Turnbull was that last piece of proven quality needed. I hope I’m wrong obviously.
Can only be Antoni Sarcevic. There is a reason that Evatt has made this midfield maestro captain. The driving force behind Plymouth’s promotion last season and Bolton made sure that they took advantage of Sarce’s desire to move back up to the north west. A quality player who is at his career peak. A fantastic signing for Bolton.
Predict the first six games
Now this is difficult. I do think that Evatt will get a winning team together, I’m just not sure when. There are two possible scenarios. Firstly, the early return to preseason gives our new squad a head start over the others. Result is being first off the blocks, racing into a good lead but maybe wilting at season end. Or needing time to gel and only finally getting into top gear later during the season for a strong finish. I really have no idea as to how it will turn out. The mixed fortunes in the friendlies haven’t helped, not that I pay much attention to them anyway. Hopefully the two early cup games will get us ready for the league opener against FGR. For the first 6 league games I’ll go; FGR W, Colchester D, Newport W, Harrogate W, Grimsby D, Oldham W. Obviously this then means I’m veering towards a flying start, ha!
Final league position
I don’t think it’ll be a walk in the park to promotion. I remember the last time round in the then Division 4 and it was a bit of a struggle if truth be told. I’ll go for automatic promotion in third place. Huge team rebuild and too many unknowns for a number of our players to predict us as league champions in my opinion.
Any other business prediction
If the recently ‘leaked’ player numbers are anything to go by, then it looks like three slots are still vacant for forthcoming first teamers. I also think Faal and Brockbank or Edwards will be joining the 18 year olds out on loan. With Politic’s season ending injury, that leaves the 3 first team spaces from an embargo squad limit point of view. I think that Gilks will be backup for Cullin, so possibly two strikers and a midfielder to come in. However, as I said before, defence looks too lightweight to me, whereas we have a solid midfield. So maybe two strikers and a defender to complete the squad build. As the transfer window doesn’t shut until 16th Oct, we may have to wait for the right players to be available.I see that the club financial situation has got another airing in the media. Whether the club has a solid business plan in place to pay off the creditors next August or whether they have just kicked the can down the road and hope to have something in place by then, only they know. It’s frankly pointless worrying about it until next summer. Let’s just for once focus on the on field stuff this season. That’d be nice.