Strong summer signings could prove very important for manager Owen Coyle as he looks to keep Bolton up for another season.
Coyle seems to have settled into the job at the Reebok since his move from Burnely last season and he has finalised three impressive signings. Martin Petrov has arrived on a free transfer from Manchester City after the Bulgarian had endured some torrid seasons at Eastlands. Petrov was one of the first big signings for City when they got their own version of Roman Abramovic in 2008. Petrov, though, now has the chance to re-build his career and, if the given the freedom to move about the pitch and run at the opposition, Bolton could well have pulled off a coup for the winger. Robbie Blake showed his quality last season in a dissapointing term for Burnely and now the forward has linked up with Coyle again to try and help steer Bolton away from relegation. Another free transfer in the form of Ivan Klasnic is also a great move by the club. The striker showed quality and real compusure in front of goals last season, scoring eight goals in twenty-seven appearances. The club have also been linked with Portsmouth striker David Nugent, who could provide some more firepower to the side, while Phil Gartside has stressed the need for Bolton to focus on their youth system, with many young players being moved up to the first team. It is a first team that is largely unchanged, with Nicky Hunt the only departure, joining Bristol City on a free transfer, suggesting that the 2010/11 season could be a solid one for Bolton.
Wanderers are certainly going to be tough to break down at the back, with Gary Cahill, Gretar Steinsson, Danny Shittu and Zat Knight all famous for their strength and sheer grit in their central defensive duties. Paul Robinson and Sam Ricketts are now experienced top-flight defenders and will hopefully sure up a back line even further, with Jussi Jaaskelainen in goal providing experience and quality in goal.
The side are also strong in midfield with Fabrice Muamba, Gavin McCann and Sean Davis all providing cover for the defence, while Matthew Taylor, Ricardo Gardner and the bustling runs of Davis supplying flair and quality on the ball in attack. Matthew Taylor is key to the Bolton side as his passing ability, shooting power and accuracy and all-round awareness on the ball could open up defences for Bolton.
One to watch next season is Mark Davies. The former Wolves midfielder featured heavily towards the end of last season and will certainly be wanting to see more first team football this season. The twenty-two year old is at his best when running at defenders with the ball, something that his teammates around him may find highly rewarding.
It is in the final third, however, that Bolton may struggle. Johan Elmander is proven to be a goal scorer in other countries but hasn’t qute set the Premier League alight, while Kevin Davies proves a nuisance to defenders game-in, game-out, but doesn’t really get on the scoresheet enough. Klasnic’s arrival could result in more goals if he links up well with the players around him, but it all needs to click for Bolton if they are to stay up this season.
Where will they finish?: 16th
Official relegation odds: 7/2 (Paddy Power)
Star man: Matthew Taylor
One to watch: Ivan Klasnic
Main weakness: Lack of fire power