BWFC August Preview: Welcome Back, My Old Friend

  • August 07, 2014 | By Sean McNeilly
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The 2014/15 Championship season has almost arrived and Sean McNeilly is back with his monthly previews of the campaign ahead at Bolton Wanderers.

Hello football, it's good to see you again my friend!

It seems like years have passed since Germany became world champions and even longer since Birmingham City kept themselves in the Championship with a last minute goal at the Reebok Stadium - remember when it used to be called the Reebok? I won't go there. Instead, let's have a look at the opponents that we will be coming up against this month in the Sky Bet Championship.

Saturday, at 3pm, the new season gets underway at Vicarage Road when the Whites face Watford. That's followed by the first competitive match of the season at Macron Stadium, as Bury visit for a League Cup first round tie. Nottingham Forest and Middlesbrough both visit Bolton for league encounters in the space of three days, before trips to Brighton & Hove Albion and Leeds United, respectively, round off the first month of the season.

Watford first up, then. The Hornets finished last season one place and one point above Wanderers after losing their final four matches of the season, to end any faint hopes of a play-off place. Manager, Giuseppe Sannino has made moves in the transfer market in his first summer as boss, to try and stop more end of season disappointment. While they continue to try and hold onto Troy Deeney, Hornet fans will have been delighted to see Matej Vydra return for a second loan spell after the success of the 2012/13 loan which saw him score 20 times. Also, a very shrewd piece of business has seen Lloyd Dyer move to Watford from last season's champions - Leicester City. Some Premier League experience has also been acquired with Lucas Neill and Heurelho Gomes being added to the squad. Always a tough team to call, but Watford, like so many clubs in this league, will be hoping to be around the top-six come May.

One To Watch: Lloyd Dyer
Last Season: Watford 0-1 Bolton Wanderers (Beckford)


The first home league match of the season is against Nottingham Forest, under new boss Stuart Pearce. Forest, like Watford, will be reeling after a poor finish to last season cost them a play-off spot. Pearce is also not the happiest 'Psycho', after losing Karl Darlow and Jamaal Lascelles to Newcastle United without his consent. Forest fans will be happy with a few of the signings that have been made at least, including solid players David Vaughan, Matty Fryatt and, confirmed in the last few days, Chris Burke on a free. With the bookies, it appears that another mid-table season is on the cards for the Reds, but Pearce will want to impress the fans he used to play in front of.

One To Watch: Henri Lansbury
Last Season: Nottingham Forest 3-0 Bolton Wanderers (Mackie, Reid, Lansbury)


With Middlesbrough coming to the Macron next, it means that Bolton's first three opponents are the three teams that finished directly above them last season. How we get on in these matches could show how far the team has come throughout the summer, or it could be a useless fact I noticed - who knows? Aitor Karanka has had his first pre-season with Boro and has so far not seen too many new faces signing up at the Riverside, while numbers continue to exit. In fact, having a look at their current squad list is too similar to Blackpool's current predicament. Karanka has asked for patience from his fans in the last few days, though I think patience in this league is very hard to come by. Boro have notched up five wins from seven friendlies, which doesn't mean much on paper, but a winning mentality can do anything for you. However, Boro have come a long way since the heady days of the Premier League with Fabrizio Ravenelli, Juninho et al and the Wanderers should have every chance of three points.

One To Watch: Lee Tomlin
Last Season: Middlesbrough 1-0 Bolton Wanderers (Leadbitter (pen))


A trip to the south coast and the AMEX breaks up three home matches in-a-row in all competitions. It will be a different look Brighton side under new boss Sami Hyypia, as the outgoings of the summer have so far outnumbered the incomings by some way. Players like Tomasz Kuszczak, Matthew Upson, David Lopez and last season's top scorer Leonardo Ulloa have all departed. Hyypia has brought in Aaron Hughes and Chris O'Grady, who will both surely be starters, but the best piece of business is arguably the acquisition of David Stockdale from Fulham. Replacing Kuszczak wasn't going to be an easy task, but Stockdale has the ability to be a top-class 'keeper. Hyypia must fancy his team's chances this season at making the top-six, for the third season running, despite the departures, as talent still runs through the squad. Getting this trip in early may benefit Wanderers, as Brighton still get used to their new management, though I won't be putting any of my hard earned cash on a win no matter who much I love the Whites.

One To Watch: Andrew Crofts
Last Season: Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 Bolton Wanderers (Spearing(og), Calderon, Buckley; Lopez(og))


Visiting Elland Road will round off August - the scene of Bolton's highest scoring and most impressive win of last season. It's always nice to remind yourself of good times. Leeds will be determined not to let that kind of result happen again, but their summer so far has not been inspiring. A new owner has come in, but top scorer Ross Mccormack has gone, albeit for a tidy bit of money. While the reports that Paddy Kenny will not be picked because of his birthdate baffle me, and everyone in the world I'd imagine, the new owner, Massimo Cellino, is not a fan of the number 17 and unluckily enough for Paddy, he was born on 17th May. New manager Dave Hockaday (nope, me neither) has been instructed not to pick the experienced shot-stopper. The noise of head scratching in Leeds can be heard across the country. Positives? The majority of last season's squad is still there, I suppose, and the talented Sam Byram hasn't been snapped up (at the time of writing). A few little-known Italians have arrived, along with experienced bench warmer Stuart Taylor to shore things up too. Could be another fun day out at Elland Road.

One To Watch: Rodolph Austin
Last Season: Leeds United 1-5 Bolton Wanderers (Smith; Mason, Jutkiewicz, Knight, M Davies, Moritz)


It seems another tough first month is in store for Dougie and the lads, although there will be no easy months in a very competitive league. Freedman seems to have firmly put his stamp on the squad, after getting rid of the majority of high earners, bringing in the players he believe will work for the shirt and, so far, keeping hold of all the players he wants to.

Last season, I wrote that Bolton hadn't organised enough pre-season games and a slow start would be on the horizon. This time around, a much busier schedule has been in place, meaning more game time for more members of the squad. Let's hope more preparation means the ground is hit running.

I think a minimum haul of seven points from the opening month would be acceptable, while more would be a really positive start. Who knows what the season will bring longer term. Here's to hoping a successful season awaits - us fans deserve it.

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
2 Peterborough United 4 9
3 Portsmouth 4 8
4 Bolton Wanderers 4 8
5 Exeter City 4 7
6 Charlton Athletic 4 7
View Full Standings >>


Who is Bolton's 2021/22 Player of the Year?
32.58% Oladapo Afolayan
30.96% Gethin Jones
21.72% Ricardo Almeida Santos
5.51% Declan John
4.05% Kieran Lee
3.08% MJ Williams
1.78% Joel Dixon
0.32% George Johnston