Bolton Wanderers: Welcome Home
Afternoon all and, finally, normal service resumes. I could tell you all about my holiday, but you don`t want to hear about that and I`m not really in any state to tell you about it. Suffice to say, I saw an interview with James Cracknell yesterday when he talked about having to train his body to act like a normal person`s body after years of rowing training. As such, after ten days in Ireland, I have to drink Guinness at a steadily slower rate day by day before it gets back to normal. The doctor has told me I should be alright by October.
This week sees the beginning of the pre season friendlies, with the first team up in Scotland playing Ayr and Hamilton while the kids take on Bamber Bridge. I know that some people will be upset that the team haven`t gone off to warmer climes again, but as the warm weather training in the States last summer was the beginning of the end of our Premier League status, plus it costs a bit of money, a tour of Scotland may be the best thing for them. Give them a bit of steel, especially with the forecast for Southern Scotland for the next week or so currently looking like a monsoon. The only problem that I foresee is the same one the beset the team last year and I would hope that the manager looks to give some of the younger squad members game time against Ayr, the weakest team and one managed by another of his former team mates, before allowing the more senior players to stretch their legs against Hamilton and Falkirk. We don`t want lesser players to be going over the ball and breaking first teamer`s legs again. I know I banged on about this last summer, and some disagreed with me, but the less talent the opponent has, the more likely he is to injure a better player. According to today`s BEN
, the match could be the precursor to sending some of the younger players out on loan to Ayr, which is all the more reason to having some of them play in the game. If any of the senior players picks up an injury, all hell will be to pay.The captain has spoken of the upcoming games:
"We've done a lot of the hard work and now we are looking forward to getting into the games in Scotland. There will be a progression and everybody will be looking to get some game time. We've a lot of pre-season matches and the manager will want to give everyone a lot of time. Come August 18, we will be ready to hit the ground running.
Eight games in just over three weeks is a lot of playing time, a higher average than the normal season, so there is scope for every single player, from SKD to Joe McKee, to be on the pitch for the requisite time to allow them to get match fitness before Burnley. The squad, if you include Samni Odelusi, Jay Lynch and Alex McQuade, numbers thirty one players and whilst there is need for more players in certain areas, central defence and the forward line in particular, there is certainly the numbers to put forward the claim that Bolton will be one of the favourites for promotion. You can tell little from pre-season games. You certainly can`t point to games against the likes of Tranmere and Morecambe and look for positives, as a team of Bolton`s level is supposed to win those games. But you can tell deficiencies and how fit a player is, and it will be interesting to see what the manager does if the results in Scotland don`t go the way they should.
He`ll probably try and buy Robbie Blake back.
Elsewhere, Keith Andrews joins up with the squad for the first time today and his initial job should be to stamp on Zat Knight`s ankle, thereby confirming the managers claim that he is someone who "can put his foot in". I know that now he has signed a new contract, we should be backing the great galumph, but I just cannot find it in my heart to do it and know that every time his name will be announced this season my heart will sink, no matter how much he wants to "repay the fans". I`ll support him when he is on the pitch and give a reasoned critique of his performances, because there is nothing to be gained from doing otherwise. However, he has a great deal of ground to make up in the eyes of this fan at least.
Finally, you`ll be aware of the comedy transfer rumour of the summer so far, with Wigan said to be keen on taking LCY over the border. There are a number of reasons why this should get no further than just a rumour. One of them is that we already sold our best keeper to them, so selling our best winger will be just taking the piss. The second is, although footballers are these days known for their mercenary qualities, you just cannot see anyone with sense countenancing selling him after a year out (whoever was at fault). Note, I said anyone with sense. The club can do without some players, Mark Davies being the prime example. But if we are to have any hope of climbing back out of the Football League, unless the offer is so silly Dave Whelan`s family finally start considering putting him in a home, it should be rejected out of hand. And when I say out of hand, I don`t mean telling the press that in no way shape or form have we received any kind of bid for LCY and at no point will we consider selling him.
I mean keeping schtum.
Right, let`s call that a day. Al will be here tomorrow and I`ll see you Wednesday for a --- der der der - Ayr United preview.