Joel Coleman's form during his spell as Nathan Baxter's deputy has been widely debatedJoel Coleman's form during his spell as Nathan Baxter's deputy has been widely debated (Image: Camerasport)

Keeper move makes sense,

by Liam Hatton

I WILL just preface the next 450 words or so by stating the following: Bolton Wanderers were not good enough for promotion based purely off the fact that their season resulted in a third-placed finish and a play-off final defeat.

I feel like I have said that countless times, but it bears repeating. The only reason I mention that again is because the narrative surrounding the next point I make is not lost on people.

If Bolton did not lose Nathan Baxter for an extended spell, or if their backup keeper was of a better quality than Joel Coleman, then I maintain that they finish in second place.

That may sound harsh, and it is not a dig at Coleman regardless of how it may seem, because I despise making statements purely for controversy. It is also not to say he was to blame for Bolton’s late season collapse whatsoever.

However, with the signing of Luke Southwood this week the message was clear: A back-up was needed that Ian Evatt felt confident in should anything happen to Baxter again. That was obviously not the case in Coleman, otherwise this move would not have happened.

Whilst Coleman did improve as he gained more minutes under his belt, there is no disputing that there were some hairy moments with him between the sticks.

I suppose the question being asked is whether the Southwood move is competition for Baxter or a move solely for the number two role? It could be both but likely the latter right now, especially as he makes his way back from a broken leg - although it is said that his pre-season will not be affected.

Eyebrows were raised as it seems highly likely that the former Cheltenham keeper could easily start for the majority of League One teams, so moving to Bolton to be a backup may be confusing to some.

Southwood also comes highly rated and one of his strengths is that of playing the ball out with his feet, which is evidently a huge plus in Evatt’s system.

How I see it is that no single player’s spot is 100% safe and nothing is to be taken for granted. Competition all across the pitch is key, and ensuring the drop off from the starter to the backup at any position is minimal will prove to be massive in terms of building a quality squad.

With the signing of Southwood and Chris Forino, this has shown that Evatt has placed a huge focus on improving the defensive side of Bolton’s game with the recruitment so far.

The addition of Stephen Crainey as an assistant manager continues a summer of tweaks as opposed to wholesale changes, but one positive is that Evatt is not blind to the fact that evaluating what went wrong last season will help Bolton in the long run.

Ricardo Santos is staying put at Bolton Wanderers - and Tony is quite glad about it. (Image: Camerasport)

It's farewell from me, but not for Ricardo!

by Tony Thompson

WHEN someone sends me a link to a story from The Bolton News on WhatsApp before I have even got out of bed, it’s either very good news… Or very bad news.

My mate Paul, a postman by trade and a hell of a guitarist in his younger days, directed me towards an article which said Ricardo Santos was staying at Bolton Wanderers this summer and that Ian Evatt was not planning to sell him.

Now I’m quite glad this is the case. I was as annoyed as anyone by what happened at Wembley and I don’t think that Santos covered himself in glory there, or for the previous few months for that matter.

He looked like he was carrying an injury, maybe even carrying a bit more weight because he couldn’t train (I am guessing there, and definitely not one to throw stones!). Obviously the manager wanted him out there on the pitch in the important games but it ended up backfiring in spectacular style.

All that being true I still wanted him to come back this season and be our player. I definitely didn’t want to see him rock up in a Birmingham City shirt and be bouncing Dion Charles around St Andrews next season.

Paul is not quite as forgiving. I think he had his hopes pinned on Santos going but then he has always been a miserable sod. At school he would always ask for boiled potatoes instead of chips. That kind of thing.

Personally, I am starting to get the bug back again and looking forward to next season. I am not a big friendly go-er but Chorley might be possible, provided the bar is well-stocked. August cannot come around soon enough now.

Before I go and ruin my weekend by watching another drab England game and spend 90 minutes comparing it to Bolton in the play-off final, I’d like to say what a pleasure it has been to write this column in my local newspaper but, alas, this will be my final one. Work commitments have made it tougher to give it my proper concentration in the last couple of months, so I am passing on the torch to someone younger, and (probably) better.

I am sure that Liam will be continuing his excellent work and that someone else will be taking up my 400 words, usually over written, always late but always expertly edited. I can’t recommend it enough as a cathartic exercise for a supporter with something to get off their chest.

I look forward to reading Straight From the Stands in the future on my phone, waiting for kick-off.

Cheers for all the support and kind comments, Tony.

Luke Southwood is the only name that has completely slipped the net of social media at Wanderers this summer.Luke Southwood is the only name that has completely slipped the net of social media at Wanderers this summer. (Image: PA)

Social media summers,

by Rebecca Ashworth

I’ll admit it: I’m addicted to the BWFC hashtag. Once the transfer window begins, I find myself drifting onto X (formerly Twitter) in involuntary autopilot. It’s all I can do to get through the summer break: unoccupied by regular games, my idle mind idles its way through social media scrolls instead. This summer is worse than others. Flashbacks to Wembley inspire regular returns to social media in a mix of angst and anticipation.

Transfer rumours have always been part and parcel of football, but my new addiction shines light on the influence of social media. The landscape of the rumour mill is shifting. Social media means that, like every workplace, the rumour mill now has a prolific “work from home” option. The mill’s machinery is at our fingertips, with fans and journalists spinning a web of signing rumours.

Of course, just like the rumours themselves, social media is not new to football. Since its inception, social media has played a part in football fandom, but I can’t help but notice how it has affected transfer rumours specifically –– not least with the ‘blue tick’ epidemic that has taken over. The once elusive blue tick, Twitter’s verification symbol, can now be purchased by any Tom, Dick, or Harry. Suddenly, everyone can be an expert, and the number of ‘in-the-know’ accounts has exploded, with names of potential players tossed into the ring at increasing speed.

Admittedly, I find myself clutching at these straws: a big fan of Zac Ashworth (surname match coincidental), I was overjoyed to see his name floating about in the early days of the window and was upset that the rumoured permanent signing didn’t come to fruition. Still, Ashworth’s signing was a possibility, unlike others touted by those allegedly ‘in the know’. We can’t forget the allegedly confirmed loan of Joe Taylor back in January, who went on to score 10 goals for promotion rivals Lincoln. Since summer began, Twitter has already alleged the departures of Santos, Charles, Sheehan etc. The rumour mill’s production rate may be up, but it isn’t always successful.

Nonetheless, the occasional thread gets spun into gold. Many Wanderers fans would admit that Chris Forino, however promising a signing, was not a name prominent on their radars. Nonetheless, two days before his move was announced, his name sprung up across social media. Likewise, Klaidi Lolos’ name began floating around amongst online fans shortly before his signing was confirmed. So far, only Luke Southwood’s contract slipped through the cracks to take us all by (pleasant) surprise.

Still, I can’t help but wonder if the constant stream of baseless rumours ruins the excitement of the window. Digging through these feels like a tiresome excavation at times. However, perhaps this is where the new fun lies –– in a puzzle waiting to be solved. Maybe the rumour mill isn’t quite the right metaphor anymore. The transfer window, in the advent of social media has become a rumour mine –– one that we can only hope strikes gold.