The Trotters are without a win in eight and have suffered five defeats on the spin - it’s been far from a fairy tale return to the second-tier hasn’t it?
I think people were fairly realistic that it wasn’t going to be easy returning to the Championship, but the club had been under an embargo since December 2015. People realised that, while they did extremely well to get promoted, it was going to be a big step up in quality and so it has proved. They’ve had a couple of half-decent performances but I think they’ve been below-par on a lot of occasions and have got quite a lot to prove at this level now.
A lot of Brentford’s early season results have been narrowed down to luck, or lack of it – do you think the same goes for Bolton?
There was a massive deflection that gave Ipswich Town their opening goal last weekend so I don’t think you can assign that to any technical value! Sometimes you do have to just take it, but sometimes it’s how you respond and whether you take your own chances – Bolton certainly haven’t and have struggled for goals in the last few games. I’m a subscriber of the ‘you make your own luck’ way of thinking, statistics will get you so far but it comes down to who’s got the stomach for it really and that’s what Bolton have got to show.
What have Bolton got to do to snap out of this poor run of form?
Start scoring for starters, I think that’s dropped off in the last few games as has the ratio of shots on target. There’s no one thing that’s got to happen; they are scrapping and fighting and there’s no problem with a split dressing room or anything like that. They are a plucky team so I don’t have any worries on the mental front, it’s just a case of showing that they deserve to be at this level. You can see the step up in quality and it has been difficult to adjust to so far, but it’s for them to prove otherwise now.
Despite the lowly league position, is there a player who has stood out for you so far?
Gary Madine’s first season in the Championship for Bolton was very difficult – he had issues with the Manager and wasn’t enjoying his football at all. I think a lot of us thought he was going to leave the club, but he found a completely new lease of life in League One, top-scored with ten goals and looked a different player. Now, all of a sudden, the fans are appreciating him again and he’s looking much more comfortable at this level of football. He certainly provides the fulcrum for Bolton as a target man in the similar role of so many ex-Bolton strikers of that ilk – the Kevin Davies’ and Nat Lofthouses of this world – Wanderers’ fans love a number nine and he’s the latest in that long line.
What should Brentford expect in terms of the way Bolton set up?
They’ve tried a number of formations but they’ve largely played three at the back in a 3-5-2 or 3-4-3. It’s been quite direct with Madine up front; he’s a big lad so they’ve been looking to feed off the scraps. They’ve got plenty of energy down the wings now; Mark Little and Anthony Robinson have done a decent job at getting up and down. There are still a couple of players out injured who will probably have a say in what system they finally settle upon, though slowly but surely they are finding their shape.
What are you expecting from Brentford on Saturday?
If the Brentford philosophy is anything like it was when the last Manager was in charge, it is going to be an afternoon of a lot of passing, controlled possession and hopefully an end product. I think with Brentford you tend to find they are either absolutely outstanding or alternatively, very, very frustrating. There have, quite clearly, a lot of good technical players left in the squad there and while it’s been a bit of a mixed bag so far, you only have to catch them on the wrong day and they can probably beat anybody in the division.
If you could bring one member of Dean Smith’s squad to the Macron, who would it be?
Who’s that ginger guy in midfield? Ryan Woods, that’s it. I saw a bit of him on the Championship show and he looks like the type of player who can make things tick. Bolton need someone like that so I’ll go for him.
Can I push you for a score prediction?
Bolton 2-0 Brentford