The Opposition View: Bolton

It’s Wanderers v Wanderers again, and if you’ve found yourself wondering about the other Wanderers, wonder no more. Ed Skelly, Managing Editor of Lion of Vienna Suite, runs the rule over an eventful last six months for his club.

It’s been a crazy, dramatic period for Bolton Wanderers. How do you balance on-field expectations with being thankful that there’s still a club there to support? The last time we met, there was definitely a huge sense of relief that Bolton Wanderers had survived. It was a miracle that the game even went ahead. There were still issues with the takeover and we ended up having to use a squad mainly consisting of scholars. That day, the result didn’t matter. It just felt great to be able to watch Bolton Wanderers play football. The first month of the season was just that, showing support to a team who could have easily slipped out of existence.

Six months on, the results on the pitch have more precedence. This season has ultimately become a write-off, though there was a time when I genuinely believed we could fight our way out of trouble. It’s frustrating, though it’s great to be more concerned about what happens on a Saturday at 3 o’clock rather than behind the scenes.

Purely in a footballing sense, are you confident that you’re building well enough for the future and to be able to climb back up the leagues (with next season almost certainly set to be spent in League Two)? We’ll see. There are 22 players out of contract in the summer, so there are some decisions to be made on who stays – or rather who wants to stay.

Once that’s out of the way, it’s going to be a huge summer window. Restrictions are in place, so we can only sign free transfers or loans. We can also only have a first team squad consisting of 23 players. Hopefully by the end of August, Bolton will have a squad capable of competing at the top end of League Two.

The owners have stated they intend to provide the biggest budget possible given the restrictions, so let’s hope so.

I imagine it might be hard to pick, but who have been your star players this season and why? Given the amount of injuries and turnover of players we’ve had, there haven’t been that mant standouts this season. [Striker] Daryl Murphy has scored a lot of goals, though sometimes the performances have been lacking. Remi Matthews has produced some excellent saves to keep us in games, though he certainly has his critics.

I’m going to say Dennis Politic. This is the Romanian youngster’s first professional season and he is well on his way to being an integral part of our team. The winger has scored five goals and has impressed with his skill and prowess on the ball. He’s just signed a new deal, so hopefully he’ll be here for a long time as we try to go back up the leagues.

What kind of style has Keith Hill implemented and what are your thoughts about it/the way you’re heading tactically? Initially, Hill implemented a dynamic, eye-catching style that was the polar opposite to how Phil Parkinson used to set up. Games against Bristol Rovers and Fleetwood were times when we controlled a game and were great to watch.

Recently, with [veteran forward] Chris O’Grady in the starting XI, we’ve been far more direct. There have been a lot more long balls aimed towards O’Grady in the hopes of him setting up an attack.

We might see a distinct style someday when we’re injury free and not seeing a different starting lineup every week.

Lastly, how do you see this game panning out? Score prediction welcome! If we are to get anything from the game, we need to avoid conceding early on. Too many times this season, games have been even and then we’ve conceded just before half time.

You’re a team fighting for a place in the automatic promotion places, so you’re clearly the favourites.

I’ll say Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Wycombe Wanderers.

Header image by Dan Clark
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