In the second instalment, I talk about Neil Lennon’s future, our second friendly against Paderborn and training amongst other things
I`ll start off with some good news. It was announced today that Claudio Ranieri has been appointed as Leicester City`s new manager, ending our fears about Neil Lennon taking the job. This, if he was ever distracted which I doubt, will allow him to focus more on the major rebuilding job required at Bolton. It is worth noting though that as long as Neil Lennon is our manager, he will be linked with similar jobs though so it`s not to say that all chairmen have made a pact to never appoint Neil Lennon as their new manager.
This was announced during the Paderborn match. All people really seemed to say about our opponents were that there were in the Bundesliga last season before suffering relegation and they have Nick Proschwitz- a player who I always felt seemed to be too incompetent with the ball for the Championship. However, since we`ve heard of him he`s a threat. We did expect a tricky encounter, and we came up against a strong team who were ahead of us in their pre-season preparations as what they hope to be a promotion campaign starts soon.
Since this would a tougher game, we played a stronger squad made up of more senior players. Unfortunately I only got to see about 10 minutes of the game, as it proved to be difficult to stream but boy was I lucky to have seen two sensational goals.
The first was a wonderfully cushioned lob volley from 25 yards away by Gary Madine. The ex-Sheffield Wednesday and Blackpool man has already impressed me with his application and skill. To be honest, I thought he was more heavily built and more in the Kevin Davies mould. He`s actually quite lean, but still very strong and is willing to throw his head at anything- so that he does have to share with SKD.
The second was an outrageous effort from a Paderborn player who whacked the ball into the top corner of Ben Amos` net from 40 yards away- a truly special goal.
As I say I didn`t really get to see much else, but there is one thing that struck me. Why do players get into so many fights during pre-season? We saw Darren Pratley appearing to hold a player by his throat in the Strum Graz game, and there was similar unrest during the match today. With the likes of Derik Osede and Dorian Dervite unhappy with the opposition. I presume it`s possibly because they`re unhappy about the amount of rash challenges flying around during a pre-season FRIENDLY, but it really could be about anything.
Emile Heskey, Liam Trotter and Zach Clough all have ‘niggles` hence their absences from the game, while Clayton continues his recovery from a ruptured ACL sustained in December. He`s ‘three to four weeks` away from playing according to Neil Lennon.
Day Eight of the Austria trip is now up on the YouTube channel by the way, just look up ‘Bolton Wanderers Austria Day 8` is you wish to find it; I can`t currently embed videos into these posts. I`ve mentioned a lot of times that these are very useful to see how the players interact and which players seem to be impressing the coaches, of course as well as seeing them play.
Quade Taylor looks like he`s been improving on the ball which is very good news, as he could well feature in our first team along with al of the youngsters on tour. I seemed to hear Neil Lennon getting very frustrated with Filip Twardzik again , and I`m frustrated too. He hasn`t really impressed since joining from Celtic in January- all he`s really done is score a consolation goal. He`s clearly very good with his left foot but he`s shown little aptitude when it comes to defending, which is very discouraging if he`ll be playing as a full back. I think Lennon`s desire for him to operate this role is out of desperation- Moxey has been inconsistent; Ream really is a centre back; Kellett is young and inexperienced. We have no other options. We also can`t afford another left back- as things stand we can`t even afford a second choice goalkeeper! This, coupled with the fact that we also have too many central midfielders means that Twardzik won`t be playing in his natural position any time soon unless he shows that he`s better than the likes of Mark Davies and Jay Spearing- a tall order.
There was also a weak footed penalty challenge on the video in which the likes of Gary Madine, Ben Amos and Rob Hall attempted to score- something we saw last year with Dougie Freedman. Medo Kamara proved to be a surprisingly good goalkeeper, as his odd technique kept the ball out of the net on various occasions- another thing we saw with Dougie Freedman. I remember hearing that Neil Warnock used to not bring a goalkeeper to sit on the bench. Instead he brought just outfielders and designated a player to go in goal in the case of a ‘keeper injury of sending off. Maybe this could be Medo`s way of getting into the team? Similarly, Dean Moxey has played as a goalkeeper at a high level.
As I now always seem to do, I`ll talk about Crewe Alexandra. Max Clayton, a former Alex player, said that Bolton was like a ‘bigger Crewe`. As you may be aware, Crewe`s ethos is to bring through their own young players who play with the first team from a young age and many have gone on to greater things- the likes of Danny Murphy, Dean Ashton, Nick Powell, Ashley Westwood and Luke Murphy have done so in recent years. Others stay in the first team for their whole careers, while those not good enough to make the cut often find themselves drop into non-league football, but are still on good terms with the club. I think that Neil Lennon has instilled some of that mentality into our team. As Dougie Freedman had ostracised some of the younger players, Lennon brought youngsters up to the first team set up and got them playing at a higher level so when the time to make the step up to the first team in competitive matches came they`d already be at home. That`s why we`ve seen Josh Vela and Zach Clough make immediate impacts. Niall Maher, Hayden White and Oscar Threlkeld have all been handed a golden opportunity to establish themselves as first team players and members of match day squads. They need to seize this chance.
In other news, Billy Waters who I was insisting that Neil Lennon sign on a free transfer earlier has joined Cheltenham Town- he made his debut the other day. While playing in the Conference may not suggest that he`d succeed for us, just watch him rise up the leagues.
Okay, that`ll be it for the second instalment of our pre-season coverage.