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The Big Kick-Off: Bolton Wanderers


Paul Grech

As a young kid, Paul Grech got used to hearing ‘oh no, not him’ when the others found out that he would be playing on their team. He quickly took the hint that he was crap at football. Hopefully, he’s a bit better at writing about it....
[full biography]
07/08/2007 08:00:00.
read: 335 times.

Hopes and Fears

After eight years, Bolton begin life with Sam Allardyce and there are plenty out there willing to bet that it will be the beginning of the end for them. Allardyce ability to spot players and get them to perform at previously unexpected levels transformed a club from one grateful for another season in the Premiership to a side regularly trying to make into Europe.

That success ultimately made him one of the most sought after managers in the top flight and, after years of successfully convincing him to stay, Newcastle came in and convinced him to leave.

As Charlton proved after last season’s departure of Alan Curbishley, it is not easy to get over a manager as influential and charismatic as Allardyce yet Bolton have to move on. Having managed to hang on to Nicolas Anelka – although that might change before August comes to an end – the only major departure is the Israeli international defend Tal Ben Haim.

The onus on replacing him will probably fall on Gerald Cid, although he will which highlights just how much Bolton’s success can be their biggest problem. Most of their transfers have raised eyebrows: no one at Aston Villa will miss the once-promising J Lloyd Samuel whilst Heidur Helguson’s goal record at Fulham would make even Kevin Davies blush.

Then again, buying the players no one else seems to want is in Bolton’s recent tradition. The thing is, will Sammy Lee manage to fit them in as well as Allardyce did?

Key Transfer

A player with a wealth of experience having played in five different leagues, Christian Wilhelmsson’s arrival on a season long loan could turn out to be an inspired piece of business by Lee. Fast, tricky and direct, he is perfectly suited for English football and will ensure that the burden to create things does not fall exclusively to Anelka.

Something to Prove

A widely respected coach, Sammy Lee always indicated that one day he would like to become his own boss and now that Bolton have given him that opportunity, he is determined to make it count. Already, he is showing that he is his own man, changing tactics to adopt a 4-4-2 formation instead of Allardyce’s favoured 4-1-2-3.

One to Watch

On loan at Southampton for the final three months of last season, Danny Guthrie was pivotal as the made it to the play-offs. Without much chance of playing at Liverpool, he will get the opportunity to do so at Bolton where he should prove more than capable of making his mark in the Premiership.

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