Having spent more seasons in the top flight without winning the title than any other club, 72 last season, Bolton Wanderers must aim to progress this year. Under the management of Owen Coyle, the club completed the 2010/11 Premier League season in 14th place with 46 points. This season the Trotters must be aiming for a top 10 finish if they are to improve and build upon what they achieved last season.
Whilst Bolton have strengthened defensively, they are seemingly lacking in their attacking options. An important player that will need to perform this season if they are to push on is Martin Petrov. With the team’s most creative force from last season, Chung-Yong Lee, who notched up eight assists, injured for up to nine months with a fractured leg, it is absolutely essential that Petrov provides quality service for Bolton’s strikers.
However, after the loss of Johan Elmander to Galatasaray and Daniel Sturridge returning to Chelsea after his loan spell with the club, it will also be important for other players to chip in with the goals, as the attack is an area of the squad that is yet to be strengthened this window. Liverpool striker David N’Gog is supposedly keen on a move to The Reebok whilst Coyle is also said to be keen on a move for Birmingham striker Cameron Jerome. Both these players would provide good cover up front as well as providing interesting foils for the bigger Ivan klasnic and Kevin Davies.
As well as adding another striker to his squad, Owen Coyle would do well to bring in someone to provide more width in the side. A player who has been excellent in preseason for his club and could really add something out wide is Shaun Wright-Phillips, who currently plays for Manchester City. Wright-Phillips is seemingly surplus to requirements at City and would add width and creativity to Owen Coyle’s side.
Despite the lack of firepower up front, the centre of midfield has been strengthened with the arrival of Nigel Reo-Coker, who endured a difficult time at Aston Villa and will be hoping to resurrect his career at the Reebok.
As well as adding to the squad, Bolton must also retain key players. Central defender Gary Cahill, who has a long list of admirers, is supposedly being courted by clubs like Arsenal. Cahill caught the eye last season with impressive performances and is a player Bolton must keep hold of if they are to push for a top 10 spot.
With the Premier League seemingly more competitive than ever, it will be up to Coyle to prove his managerial worth, with the Trotters’ first seven Premier League fixtures consisting of matches against Manchester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. As a result, it will be essential that Coyle gets his tactics perfect; otherwise, Bolton could find themselves in a bad place after the first few fixtures.
Key signing – Nigel Reo-Coker: More like Bolton’s only signing of the summer, with a possible marquee arrival still to come. However, Reo-Coker offers strength and depth in the centre of the park where the squad are lacking. As Reo-Coker comes on a free transfer, this could prove to be a very good piece of business for Bolton.
Key departure – Daniel Sturridge: The on-loan Chelsea striker joined the club for the second half of the season, scoring eight goals in 12 appearances. His arrival and departure highlighted an area that the club are lacking in. Fans and management alike will be hoping to find an adequate replacement.
Steinsson – Cahill – Knight – Alonso
Eagles – Holden – Muamba – Petrov
Kevin Davies – Klasnic