It’s that time of year again when everyone at LOV tries to predict how Bolton Wanderers will do in the upcoming season.
Next up is DTMR Tom:
It’s been a quiet off-season, and so Connor Bradley seems to win this by default. He has pace to burn and a fantastic touch. He could make us forget all about the curly haired one if he can settle into the demands of League One football.
I have a sneaky feeling that we’ll see more of Eoin Toal as the season goes on as the right centre back in Ian Evatt’s back five.
All of the front players will rotate, and so there isn’t a nailed-on candidate for top scorer this season. If Dapo Afolayan is deployed as a centre forward, I can’t look past him. If he plays in the number ten role, I’d expect his goal tally to be less impressive than last year.
Dion Charles could win this at a canter, too. His dry spell towards the back end of last season has me thinking twice, though.
Game I’m most looking forward to
The opener against Ipswich is a great litmus test for both sides. If we win at Portman Rd, every Bolton fan will be dreaming of a promotion campaign. Unfortunately, I think we will come up short.
We had two really good sparring matches with Oxford United last season. They play an expansive style that leaves them vulnerable to our counter attacks. For entertainment value, I’d expect my money’s worth in both fixtures.
Opposing Player I’d Love
I’m torn between Morecambe forward Cole Stockton and Oxford’s Cameron Brannagan.
Stockton is a goalscorer, plain and simple. He’s a focal point of his side and is a pain in the backside for opposing defenders. He’s guaranteed to score 15-20 goals a season, too. His goals could take us over the top.
Brannagan would be the sexy cherry on the sexy icing of a sexy cake in our midfield. And I LOVE a sexy midfielder. Brannagan is a creative force that Oxford are reliant on. Imagine pairing him with Kieran Lee, Josh Sheehan or Aaron Morley. Perish the thought. Our match day tickets would need to come with a health warning: may make grown men question their sexuality and life choices.
Rico Santos. Our defence is infinitely weaker without him. He’s the best centre half in the league this year, and crucial to the way we play. The team is built around him.
Predict the first six games
Ipswich (A) L 2-1
Wycombe (H) W 1-0
Port Vale (A) W 3-0
Morecambe (H) W 3-0
Sheffield Wednesday (H) D 1-1
Plymouth Argyle (A) D 1-1
It’s a tough start. I’d be doing cartwheels if we can come away with 11 points from a possible 18.
I’m ever the pessimist, and I can’t see how we’ve improved enough to take the next step to the automatic promotion spots.
I’ll say a playoff finish, with a glorious win at Wembley to end the season.
Any other business prediction?
Aaron Morley will take a big leap this season and emerge as one of our best players. He’s a young kid with a great eye for a pass. If he can take games by the scruff of the neck against top League One sides, football fans up and down the league will be appreciating his undoubted talent.