Wanderers head into the final fortnight of transfers with a senior squad that couldn’t yet fill a 7-man substitute bench. A summer of frustration is now at the forefront of everyone’s mind following the conclusion of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Perhaps; KA and his son (superagent73) had got off a touch lightly with the tournament and England’s progression occupying everybody, however, now is a time to get serious and unfortunately, I have to say, a time to become worried.
I was insistent at the start of June that Wanderers would be fine and it’s incredibly early etc etc – the overall message being “do not worry”. It is now the 25th July, the transfer window shuts in 22 days whilst we play a recently relegated Premier League side capable of spending £10m on 2 players in just 10 days. If you’re not allowed to worry now then you have become apathetic to Bolton because despite (me being one) some fans suggesting everything will be fine soon, come July, it isn’t and it doesn’t look close.
Approaching season ticket renewal, there were suggestions of a Saudi takeover, Mendes interference and a real sense of optimism. Financial optimism. Now, we’ve witnessed a player mutiny leading to a strike which in turn led to the postponement of a pre-season friendly against Saint Mirren. This has come at a time in which the chairman and majority shareholder’s soon is active enough on Twitter to mock former Bolton players they released via a social media announcement and block fans who dare have an opinion on his dismissal of Bolton News journalists. It wouldn’t be fair nor mature of me to use this platform to say “told you” but I will emphasise that his incompetence, arrogance, abuse of power (which is still little) and provocation has been embarrassingly obvious since he became remotely prominent in the world of BWFC.
Anyway, moving onto who we have signed: Lowe, Oztumer, Donaldson, Olkowski, Wildschut, Wilson. Having said all of the above, they’re all decent signings – not enough. Lowe has his leadership strengths as well as being a very competent lower-half Premier League footballer at one stage, his weakness involves his release at one relegated club and one 19th placed club in the last 2 seasons. Oztumer was a coveted flair player that Wigan and Blackburn supposedly couldn’t beat Bolton to the signing of whilst Donaldson and Wilson would be labelled “journeyman” but they’ve both done reasonable jobs wherever, Wilson being a Premier League regular up until 2 seasons ago before an off-field dispute with Mark Hughes began his demise. Olkowski is an unknown quantity as he didn’t even make the bench for much of the second half of last season in which Koln were relegated into 2. Bundesliga. Wildschut, on the other hand, is an excellent signing. Inconsistent? Maybe recently. However, his 10 goals in 46 for a relegated Wigan side would be invaluable to Wanderers desperate for attacking potency.
It looks as though Wanderers are keen on 6 more. If I was to guess: GK, LB, CB, CM, AM, CF. A goalkeeper is now a priority following the quiet loaning out of Jake Turner to Stalybridge Celtic and the less-quiet loan of Ben Amos to Millwall. Sam Walker and Ben Williams have both featured for Bolton in pre-season whilst the wages of Boaz Myhill proved to difficult earlier in the summer. A left-back named Louis Nganioni was an unused trialist sub in the 3-1 defeat to Guiseley whilst there have been strong links to released Feyenoord LB Miquel Nelom; Antonee Robinson would be ideal but that would mean a late-August loan and having Andrew Taylor in for the opening 3-4 matches. Gary O’Neil once again played for the Whites in pre-season so he must be destined for a contract as it would be bizarre for him to be so regular in the CM spot however there are renewed links with Australia international Mark Milligan. Stephen Ireland looked to be on the verge of earning a deal before a calf injury (shock) has put that back a bit. Joao Carlos Teixeira was linked earlier in the window for the AM spot. The centre-forward would ideally be Charlie Wyke if you believed the rumours but it does seem as though £750,000 is too high for The Trotters. On the other hand, Marc Iles of The Bolton News suggested that his “gut feel” told him Joe Garner remained a target.
Personally, I still don’t think those 6 would offer us a strong and deep enough squad. There would still be holes such as an extra DM and winger. 8 fills us up to have a reasonable squad, 6 leaves the element of risk. Now, completely fantasy and in my opinion, if I was playing Football Manager or FIFA Career Mode and had the ability to bring 8 in; they would be: Walker, Hobbs, Nelom/Robinson, Milligan, O’Neil, Ireland/Teixeira, Cotterill & Wyke/Garner.
That would then give us a squad of:
Alnwick, Walker, Turner
Beevers, Wilson; Hobbs, Wheater
Nelom/Robinson; Taylor, Olkowski, Little
Milligan, Lowe; Vela, O’Neil; Oztumer, Ireland/Teixeria
Wildschut, Buckley; Ameobi, Noone; Cotterill
Wyke/Garner, Le Fondre, Donaldson, Hall
As I said – fantasy. All that really needs to be said is time is very much not on the club’s side