BWFC April/May Preview: The Final Curtain

  • April 02, 2015 | By Sean McNeilly
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/453ca

The 2014/15 Championship season is almost over, so we take a look at what is in store for Bolton over the course of the next month.

An eventful campaign is drawing to a close shortly and not much is to be played for, except pride and securing places in Neil Lennon's thoughts for next season. There will be no promotion or play-off push, and, barring a very unfortunate turn in events, no concerns about relegation. Bolton do have opposition with both on their mind in these coming weeks, so an easy run in is not on the agenda.

Blackpool at home gets April underway this Saturday, followed swiftly by a trip to Wales to face Cardiff City on Easter Monday. Two home matches in four days against Norwich City and Charlton Athletic are followed by a trip to play-off chasing Brentford. A quite controversial Monday evening trip to the seaside to face Bournemouth will be followed by the final game of the season against Birmingham City at Macron Stadium, on May 2.

April can start with a bang, on Saturday, as a win at the Macron for Bolton could see Blackpool relegated to League One. In fairness, however, the Seasiders have been staring relegation in the face all season. Currently 17 points from safety and 10 behind 23rd placed Millwall, the writing has been on the wall for some time. A major factor for the club has been the instability from the heights of the boardroom, to the boycotting fans, to the lows of the shocking standard of pitch. At current count, 50 (fifty) players have represented Blackpool this season. Jamie O'Hara has been one of the success stories for the Tangerines and Lee Clark will be hopeful that he can keep hold of the midfielder for what will most likely be another tough season in England's third tier. Lennon's thoughts will firmly be on picking up three points here.

One To Watch: Jamie O'Hara
Last Season: Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Blackpool (Wheater)

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
17 Bolton Wanderers 39 12 9 18 46 57 45 -11
24 Blackpool 39 4 11 24 30 78 23 -48

 

The former blue, former red, blue again Bluebirds are ending the Championship not too dissimilar to ourselves; with a bit of a whimper. Hopes would have been of an instant return to the Premier League, but the high end of mid-table is the best Russell Slade will get. Bolton's on-loan Bluebirds Kevin McNaughton and Adam Le Fondre will not be taking the field and neither will the club's top goalscorer Kenwyne Jones, after a surprising loan move to promotion chasing Bournemouth in the last couple of days. Slade does have some serious talent at his disposal to back up the loss of Jones and to pin hopes on a successful 2015/16 campaign. Peter Whittingham, who has been playing in Wales for what seems forever, is a goalscoring and creating threat that will need to be watched. But the main man that, in my opinion, makes Cardiff tick is Whittingham's midfield partner Aron Gunnarsson. The Icelander also scores and creates but seems to have a lot more in his locker to make him an all round, box to box, midfielder. Slade will do well to keep him on the books after the summer.

One To Watch: Aron Gunnarsson

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
14 Cardiff City 39 13 12 14 48 50 51 -2
17 Bolton Wanderers 39 12 9 18 46 57 45 -11

 

Norwich are the first of three teams Lennon's troops still have to face who harbour a real chance of getting promoted this season. Things weren't looking that way as the New Year came about, but a run which saw only one loss in 10 rocketed Alex Neil's men back into contention. The Canaries are certainly equipped to be a top-flight team, having kept together a large number of the group of players that were relegated last season as well as adding some superb Championship talent. Nathan Redmond seems to be getting better and better and has a huge future ahead of him, Steven Whittaker is as superb at the back as he is going forward, while Cameron Jerome has been banging in the goals for fun so far this term. But it's Bradley Johnson who is my one to watch. The central midfielder has bagged 10 goals so far this season while putting in Premier League standard performances week in week out. If Norwich don't go up, Johnson may well leave them behind. Norwich have the joint best away record in the league and are currently on a seven-match unbeaten run on the road, in the Championship. Anything from this match would be a good result for the Whites.

One to Watch: Bradley Johnson

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
4 Norwich City 39 20 10 9 76 43 70 33
17 Bolton Wanderers 39 12 9 18 46 57 45 -11

 

Charlton Athletic are finishing the season very strongly, after flirting worryingly with the drop zone. They even have an outside chance of sneaking into the play-offs. More of a mathematical possibility than a chance really. But that is certainly a whole lot better than where they could have been. Unknown Guy Luzon has eased into the job and who knows what next season could bring? A massive success this season for the Addicks has to be top scorer Igor Vetokele. The Belgian-born Angolan international has scored 11 goals so far this season and looks to be one of the transfer coups of the division. By the time this match rolls around, Charlton's faint play-off hopes could well be dead, but don't expect an easy match. Luzon has these boys playing some serious football.

One To Watch: Igor Vetokele
Last Season: Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Charlton Athletic (McNaughton; Kermorgant)

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
11 Charlton Athletic 39 13 15 11 48 50 54 -2
17 Bolton Wanderers 39 12 9 18 46 57 45 -11

 

Brentford have to be the biggest surprise this season. Most teams that get promoted from the season before will just hope to consolidate themselves in their new surroundings - but not the Bees. Mark Warburton has taken this promoted side to serious challengers for back-to-back promotions. A lot of successful teams are built around three or four very good players, but Warburton has built Brentford around the true meaning of the word 'team'. No matter the players on the pitch; the style of play stays the same, the effort is always second to none and the performance is always impressive. If these philosophies get Brentford promoted then it would be one of the most impressive promotions in Championship history. There is no team, except Wanderers of course, I'd rather see go up from this point on.

One to Watch: Alex Pritchard

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
7 Brentford 39 20 6 13 64 52 66 12
17 Bolton Wanderers 39 12 9 18 46 57 45 -11

 

If it wasn't for Brentford, Bournemouth's superb season could be the surprise of the Championship. Though the way this team has been improving, their success so far will come as a surprise to few who have followed the Football League in recent years. Eddie Howe, along with Russian owner Maxim Demin and chairman Jeff Mostyn, have built a story of success on the South Coast. In 2009, the Cherries were 10 minutes away from being relegated out of the Football League. A mere six years on and they top the Championship with seven matches to go - touching distance from the Premier League. Howe has his boys playing football on the ground and with precision, and this has been a major factor during their rise through the leagues. Now coming out of this team are superstars in the waiting; Harry After, Callum Wilson, Mark Pugh, Brett Pitman and Matt Ritchie to name a few. All aged 27 or younger; having these five in one team is frightening. If Bournemouth do go up, and I think they will, they have the base to establish themselves as a Premier League outfit. I can't write about this match without mentioning that the game has been moved to a Monday night for Sky to show it live, which is a slap in the face to Trotters fans. A four-hour and 20 minute drive on a Monday means that the Whites are likely going to have minimal support for their final away day of the season. Bournemouth won't mind too much; this could well be a promotion party for them.

One to Watch: Matt Ritchie
Last Season: Bournemouth 0-2 Bolton Wanderers (Ngog, Beckford)

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
1 Bournemouth 39 21 10 8 82 40 73 42
17 Bolton Wanderers 39 12 9 18 46 57 45 -11

 

A repeat of the final match of last season finishes this one, as Birmingham visit the Macron. Last season produced a gripping encounter, with Birmingham coming from two goals down to save themselves from relegation. There will be no final day drama for the Blues this season, however, as a mid-table finish is the most likely scenario. Birmingham have had a similar season to Bolton; changing manager, not as successful on the pitch as would have hoped and seemingly not much to play for with a month remaining. However, one point that is different is, by the time this match comes around, the Blues will likely have new owners as, according to reports this week, five bids have been made for the club. One of the main aims of the summer will be keeping the likes of David Cotterill and Demarai Gray, who have been standout performers this campaign. This finale could turn out to be a bit of an exhibition match, but we'd surely be wanting to sign off with a win in front of home support.

One to Watch: Demarai Gray
Last Season: Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Birmingham City (Chung-Yong, Jutkiewicz; Zigic, Caddis)

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
15 Birmingham City 38 11 14 13 43 55 47 -12
17 Bolton Wanderers 39 12 9 18 46 57 45 -11

 

And that's it. No more matches for the 2014/15 season. It's been an interesting one hasn't it? Seeing Dougie Freedman and Lee Chung-Yong depart, taking Liverpool all the way in the FA Cup, the emergence of Zach Clough and, most intriguingly, the new era under Neil Lennon.

It's going to be an exciting summer ahead, with hopefully some meaningful incomings and outgoings. Here's to hoping the positive feeling around the club under Lennon continues over the summer and into the new campaign. I quite fancy a promotion chasing season.

Football betting site Betway

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 AFC Wimbledon 18 16
20 Tranmere Rovers 17 16
21 Milton Keynes Dons 18 13
22 Southend United 19 6
23 Bolton Wanderers 15 1
View Full Standings >>

Poll

Who is Bolton's 2018/19 Player of the Year?
34.62% Gary O'Neil
19.38% David Wheater
18.92% Pawel Olkowski
9.27% Joe Williams
5.33% Jason Lowe
4.13% Sammy Ameobi
2.85% Josh Magennis
2.75% Mark Beevers
1.19% Jack Hobbs
1.01% Ben Alnwick
0.28% Andrew Taylor
0.28% Craig Noone