Opposing View: Bolton Wanderers
Bolton sit a disappointing 16th, what's the target for the rest of the season?
The optimists are still talking of Play-Off places, but I think at this point that is verging on delusional. Even at the beginning of the season, that wasn't necessarily the job Bolton had to do.
This first season in the Championship after the heady days of the Premier League was always going to be about consolidation, and with that in mind I would say a top half finish is important.
While there is no need for a promotion push, the club does not want to get involved in another relegation battle.
As long as Freedman takes the club and gives it a stable platform on which to build a promotion campaign next season, then this will have been a good year for the club. From that perspective, even though 16th is not good enough, the club isn't doing too poorly.
How has Dougie Freedman's reign gone so far?
All in all, it's been pretty good. Dougie Freedman inherited a big mess from Owen Coyle, so the very first part of his term was mainly damage control.
The first matter of business was to shore up the defence, which he has done fairly effectively.
When Dougie came to the club, it was a slap dash group of players who had mainly been relying on individual talent to get by. He has come in and instituted a system, a way of playing that is really different, and that takes time to pay dividends.
Bolton are not all the way there yet, but the biggest problem (the defence) has mostly been sorted, and we are starting to see a better side emerging from the rubble of the Megson/Coyle era.
Marvin Sordell's form appears to have peaked lately - what do you put that down to?
Mostly, I think it was because he was finally given a chance.
Bolton purchased Sordell a year ago, but except for a few cameos he was never given an opportunity to prove himself. It is true that he came to the club at a bad time, in the midst of a relegation battle, and striker isn't a position where Bolton are lacking options, but the fact that it basically took a year for him to get a decent string of games is beyond me.
It's hard to know exactly why either manager overlooked him, especially given the fact that he looked decent for the England U21s in the summer, it is perhaps down to something like fitness, but I'm very pleased he's being played now, and look forward to seeing what he can do.
How has the January Transfer Window gone for Bolton?
This was probably the best transfer window Bolton have had in a long time.
Losing your top talent is always a worry for a recently relegated club, and other than Martin Petrov, Bolton managed to keep ahold of all of their main players (despite persistent deadline day rumours that Marcos Alonso and Chung-Yong Lee were leaving). I
n addition to that, Dougie brought in a number of players, all cheap or on loan, who hold promise, notably Medo Kamara and Craig Davies.
I am very pleased with Dougie's first transfer window.
Who will be the key man on Saturday?
The key men in Dougie's favoured 4-2-3-1 system are always the two defensive midfielders - squad rotation means I'm not sure who they will be but Jay Spearing and Keith Andrews are decent bets.
These players form the base of the team, performing the important roles of helping the defence, and giving the attacking triangle a platform to work off of. It also gives the attacking three much more freedom, meaning the wingers and striker can constantly be switching around with each other making them difficult to defend against.
If the defensive two have a good game, Bolton have a good game.
One Trotter you'd drive to his next club?
My stock answer for this has been Benik Afobe, but he happily (and unexpectedly) returned to Arsenal yesterday.
With him gone, I suppose if I had to choose, I would go with Matt Mills. He's had some good days for Bolton, but overall is inconsistent and unimpressive
One Hornet you'd poach given the chance?
It has to be Vydra, doesn't it?
He has been an absolute force this season, and Bolton could certainly use the attacking impetus he provides week in, week out.
Any injuries or suspensions?
It feels strange to say this, Bolton have had the worst luck with injuries over the past two years, but the Wanderers are nearly out of the injured woods.
Stuart Holden is still not entirely match fit, he certainly couldn't go for 90 minutes, but he may come on as a late sub if he's feeling well.
Other than him, there is David Wheater and Mark Davies, both of whom are nearing a return within the next few months, but for the moment are still unavailable.
I'm going to go with a 2-2 draw. If I was completely honest, I'd say a Watford win, but I just can't bring myself to predict that!
Thanks Matilda! Matilda is Managing Director of The Lion of Vienna Suite - the best place for all your Wanderers' needs.
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