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First Team

18/19 Sky Bet Championship Preview: Bolton Wanderers

The Trotters go under the microscope in Part Four of our season preview

1 June 2018

After dramatically avoiding relegation on the final day, Phil Parkinson's Wanderers are one of the 24 clubs taking their place in next season's Sky Bet Championship.

Bolton Wanderers 2017/18 season

League Position: 21st 

Average league attendance: 15,887 

Top league goalscorer: Gary Madine (10)

Given a 1500/1 chance of staying up in October having not spent a single penny on transfers in three years, Bolton's final day heroics confirmed one of the most unlikely survival stories in recent Championship history. 

After another frugal summer in Lancashire, nine defeats in 11 to open the season, eight of them without scoring, left Phil Parkinson hanging to his job with relegation already looking a certainty. However, the Bolton board stuck with their man and slowly the results began to come. 

Seven games without defeat brought them back into the pack at the start of 2018 and, despite losing top scorer Gary Madine to Cardiff City, they continued to pick up enough points to keep their heads above water. However, April was not kind to The Trotters with one point from eight games sending them into the final day in 23rd. 

And it looked like their two-year stay in the second tier was coming to an end as they trailed 2-1 at home to Nottingham Forest with three minutes to play. Yet, there was to be late, late drama with David Wheater and Aaron Wilbraham netting in the final three minutes to send Barnsley down in their place. 

The Ground

Macron Stadium

Miles from Brentford: 219 miles

Capacity: 28,723

AddressBurnden Way, Horwich, Bolton BL6 6JW

Directions to The Macron Stadium

The Manager

Phil Parkinson played more than 350 EFL games for Reading during an 18-year playing career that started at Southampton and also took him to Bury. He moved into management with Colchester United in 2003, winning promotion with the Essex side in 2006 before taking over at Hull City. Parkinson lasted less than six months on Humberside, going on to join Charlton Athletic as Assistant Manager to Alan Pardew. After taking over in November 2008, he couldn't stave off relegation and lost in the League One Play-Offs a year later.

Parkinson was sacked in January 2011, arriving at Bradford later that year. The Bantams finished 18th in his first season in charge but he won promotion the following campaign, at the same time becoming the first manager to take a fourth-tier team to a major Wembley final when The Bantams faced Swansea City in the EFL Cup Final. Parkinson left Valley Parade in 2016, after nearly five years with the club, and led Bolton back to the second tier in his first season in charge.  

The Key Man

Josh Vela - 2017/18: 31 appearances, 1 goal

Picking a Bolton player who will have a big part to play next season is a tough job with 22 of the squad out of contract this summer. Academy graduate Vela fits the bill, however, after another season at the heart of Wanderers' midfield. After missing the first three months of the season, it is perhaps no co-incidence that his return to action also co-incided with Bolton's upturn in form. The 24-year-old passed 150 appearances for Wanderers last season and looks set to have another key role when August comes around.

Last Season

Head to Head

Brentford wins: 18

Draws: 10

Bolton Wanderers wins: 14

2018/19 Odds with Leo Vegas Sport UK

Championship Winners: 50/1

Promotion 14/1

Odds correct at time of writing. 

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