10 reasons to be a cheerful Bolton Wanderers fan ahead of next season
THERE might not have been much to cheer about this season as Wanderers fell well short on their top-six target – but it is not all doom and gloom.
We might have the World Cup as a distraction but most Whites fans will be watching the clock until the Football League kicks-off once again on Saturday, August 9 – a wait of just 88 days.
And with Wanderers likely to get a new look on and off the pitch, we take a look at 10 reasons to start getting excited about next season.
1 RETURN OF THE JUKE?
Top of almost every Wanderers fan’s summer wish-list is for Dougie Freedman to snap up the Middlesbrough striker but, alas, it isn’t quite that simple. Boro want significant cash for the ex-Everton man, who has proved such a hit at the Reebok since January.
If Wanderers raise the funds, it will more than likely be because of a sale and as the past two summers have shown, they can hardly be relied upon.
But just like Jay Spearing last season, the Whites often find a way, and it would be great to welcome Jutkiewicz back into the fold.
The whole town have got their fingers crossed Stuart Holden’s latest rehabilitation effort is a successful one.
The US international deserves to resume his playing career after such incredibly bad luck with injuries – and what a lift it could give the club if he returns to the camp in pre-season looking ready to play.
Asked when he could return in a recent Q&A on Facebook, the midfielder replied: “The Fall”.
3 DOUGIE GOES ALONE
For most of the season just finished, the influence of Owen Coyle could still be seen on the side that took to the pitch each week.
It steadily eroded as time went on – but by the time we kick-off again in August, we should have a team assembled by and endorsed by Freedman himself. Then the judgement on his time at the club can start.
4 HALL OR NOTHING
Frustratingly left in the margins for long spells, Rob Hall started to come into his own towards the end of the season and looked to be maturing as a player.
Freedman has faith the former West Ham youth product will become a star in the Championship – and the next 12 months could be his big chance to shine.
5 GO JOE
Since the home-grown full-back exploded on to the scene in the Premier League days it has been one injury problem after another.
But word from the Wanderers camp is that Joe Riley will be back and fighting for a place again next season.
Could he be battling another local lad in Oscar Threlkeld, whose displays at the end of last season put him on the map too?
6 OLD BOYS’ REUNION?
Sam Ricketts will definitely be leading Wolves back to Bolton at some point next season – but how’s about an emotional return for Kevin Davies and Preston North End.
It has been a while since we last met our Lancashire rivals, the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, in fact.
But to have Super Kev in the Lilywhites line-up would definitely add a touch of spice – they just have to negotiate the play-offs first.
7 TIERNEY TAKE TWO
We only got a fleeting glimpse of tough-tacking left-back Marc Tierney last season before he broke his leg.
Wanderers refused to risk him in the last couple of months but the Salfordian will be itching to get back, even though he may now have Tim Ream as tough competition for the position.
8 WING MAN ALERT
Dougie Freedman is on the lookout for a winger and is seriously considering Birmingham City’s Chris Burke, pictured left, as an option.
The Scotland international has done some serious damage against Wanderers since they dropped into the Championship and is out of contract at St Andrew’s. Can Freedman snap up a bargain and bring him on board?
9 NEW NAME, NEW START
After 17 years, Wanderers’ home is no longer the Reebok Stadium – a fact that is still taking some getting used to.
In their place, Italian sportswear business Macron, who are pledging to give the Whites a fresh new look on and off the pitch, making their kit as well as naming the ground.
A retro approach is planned in the North Stand, with a nod to the Burnden Park days – but can it provide some fresh impetus in the Championship?
10 FIVE ALIVE
Bruce Rioch’s Super Whites beat Reading to reach the Premier League in 1995, Sam Allardyce’s Wanderers qualified for Europe for the first time in the club’s history in 2005.
Can the sequence continue with a season of success for Dougie Freedman?