Yes, I know it’s not the real season, but those who have been paying attention for the past two years should know by now that there is nothing I enjoy more than sticking a Genesis pun in my article headings. So I’ve done a match preview. Mama.
With exactly one month to go until the season kicks off, Bolton start their larger than normal pre season off tonight with a visit to Scottish Division Two side, Ayr United, managed by one of the many former team mates of Owen Coyle. As anyone who has played Football Manager will tell you, tonight’s game is more about building up fitness rather than the result, but woe betide a Bolton Wanderers team who lose their opening pre season game to a Scottish Division Two side. And woe betide the manager who puts a player out against a relatively minor team and then sees him suffer a season ending leg injury.
Luckily, the match is over two hundred miles away from T’Reebok, with literally ten Bolton fans in the crowd. Win and it’s to be expected. Draw or lose and, no matter how unfair, the grumbles will start. More than any pre season in recent times, Bolton need to hit the ground running.
‘All of our top players will be at Somerset for the game. Ádám Bogdán is an international goalkeeper and he will play, Tim Ream is an international centre back for USA and he will also play along with Zat Knight, Matt Mills, Keith Andrews, Kevin Davies, Chung-Yong Lee, David N`Gog, Marcus Alonso, Chris Eagles and Martin Petrov. Young Gregg Wylde will also play his first match for the club after signing a couple of months ago from Rangers. I will also be bringing some fantastic young talents to Somerset Park. Joe Riley is a promising right back and Josh Vela is also a great prospect who will make the trip north. I actually turned down one million pounds from Liverpool who put in a bid for Josh last August.‘ OC, making sure we all know that he is taking top players to Ayr. And Zat Knight. And £1million for Josh Vela from the Scousers. Boy, did that slip under the bar. Or over, if you shoot like David N’Gog.
‘They will provide good opposition for our first game and knowing, from when I played in Scotland and English clubs came up, they will definitely raise their game.‘ Sandy Stewart, getting the excuses in early you will notice.
‘A lot of people would have said that he couldn`t be a manager because he was always cracking jokes but I always thought that he could make it. He was great at making people feel good and his man management skills are fantastic. Mark Roberts, the Ayr manager, obviously missing the fact that man management skills may be one thing, but they are no substitute for tactics.
Ayr United Team News:
Let’s make no bones about it, I haven’t got a Scooby about the Ayr team, but I bet they are all honest professionals who won’t go over the ball and break someone’s leg.
Player to watch: Mark Shankland
Acccording to the official Ayr website, Shankland impressed against Motherwell on Saturday, so let’s go for him. He has played for them once and has hit the heady heights of being on trial at the Dingles, so expect him to be signed by OC on that alone. Anyone who has coughed near Tuff Dour has a chance of getting a contract at Bolton these days.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
Bogdan, Ream, Knight, Mills, Andrews, SKD, CYL, N’Gog, Alonso, Eagles, Petrov, Wylde, Riley and the million pound man Vela will all play, as above. Apparently. Expect Andy Lonergan to have some game time as well.
Player to watch: Gregg Wylde
I would normally say look at all of them, just to see how they look after being relegated, but Wylde is a particularly notable inclusion as we have been paying him since March to sit on his arse due to the club not being able to check the rule book about playing for a club outside the transfer window.
Match Facts & Stats
Bolton have never played Ayr. Look, I can only work with the material given.
Bolton 2-0. Why change the habits of a lifetime.
The kids are at Bamber Bridge on Friday, the first team at Hamilton the following day.