Despite their ongoing financial issues and near-miss with relegation last term, Bolton Wanderers started the season in excellent form with three wins from their first four fixtures. They’ve been on a gradual slide ever since, and are without a victory since September. How would you summarise the season so far?
They started like a house on fire and made some good signings over the summer, albeit with a vastly limited budget compared to the rest of the Championship. They have only paid transfer fees twice in the last three and a half years, so they are still a team primarily comprised of free transfers and loans.
Bolton Wanderers had some well-documented financial problems in September; the chairman claimed they were on the verge of going into administration, and you can see that it’s had a huge effect on results. Some of the performances have been very good, but I think, gradually, it’s eroded everybody’s confidence levels.
Can you explain the current situation at The University of Bolton Stadium…
The ownership inherited a really difficult situation two and half years ago. They’ve done a decent job in restructuring the finances, but Bolton are still losing money and, at the moment, there are cashflow problems that have impacted on wages and bonuses being paid. Now it’s a case of the owners having to find fresh investment or new ownership to solve the problem.
The rumours that Phil Parkinson was one of the frontrunners for the vacant manager’s role at Reading were dispelled last week; how much would he be missed should a future move materialise?
I think it’s fair to say that Parkinson has had a running battle with some supporters regarding the style of play – it’s not universally popular. But I think virtually everybody will agree that he’s done a great job in stabilising the club; it could’ve quite easily been a similar case to that of Portsmouth in recent years where they had to go right down to the bottom and work their way back up again. He’s been superb as the figurehead and, were he to go, I would have serious concerns about the stability of the First Team because he’s built the side very much in his own image.
Should they be able to strengthen, what would they ideally be on the look out for?
Bolton don’t have a goalscorer, so I think that would be the position that most fans would be grateful to see strengthened. I don’t think there’s any one position, other than perhaps in goal, that stands out as an area that couldn’t be improved. All of the focus would probably be in the attacking area because of the lack of goals in the first half of the season, but there’s no telling what Bolton will have to spend.
How are Bolton likely to set up at Griffin Park?
I think they are very likely to be 4-2-3-1. There’s been a few personnel switches, but for the majority of the time it’s been that formation, with Christian Doidge and Sammy Ameobi playing centrally and then Will Buckley and Craig Noone either side. Phil Parkinson has experimented with three at the back, but he does tend to match up so if Brentford are playing a four, I’d almost guarantee that he’ll be playing a four, with two holding midfielders in Jason Lowe and Joe Williams.
Brentford are unbeaten in the last five meetings between the sides. What’s your score prediction for the game?
I’m going to sit on the fence and say 1-1. I don’t think Bolton have got a win in them at the moment, but they aren’t playing that badly either.
For the full chat with Marc plus interviews with Neal Maupay and Dean Holdsworth, pick up a copy of BEES matchday programme around Griffin Park