Writer: Barry Worthington
Date:Friday October 22 2010
With the local derby between Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers coming up this Saturday I thought it might be a good idea to have a quick chat with the neighbours. So a cyber meeting at Vital Towers with Vital Bolton editor Steve Connolly was arranged, along with some cyber coffee and cyber hobnobs. Let`s see how it went:
worbo - Hi Steve, good start to the season for you under Coyle, are you doing as well as you expected?
Steve - To be seventh so early in the season is excellent and is a product of the better football that we are playing. Few Bolton fans thought that we would be struggling this year but to be going into Saturday's game with only one defeat is a testament to the way that St Owen Coyle has revitalised the team.
worbo - Have Bolton made any summer signings that have impressed in the opening few weeks or is it much the same squad as last season?
Steve - The squad is pretty much the same squad that was left by un-missed Gary Megson but the manager made a good few free signings in the summer that have all come up with crucial goals. Robbie Blake in the draw against Birmingham, Martin Petrov against United and last week Ivan Klasnic against Stoke. But by far the most impressive signing was a player that was at the club on a short term contract last year and that is Stuart Holden. He has been the fulcrum for all the good attacking play that we have done this season. He is certainly positive on the ball but also committed in defence, which, with the new attacking policy, he sometimes needs to be.
worbo - Kevin Davies, I`ve got to ask you, in the England team, can you believe it? The type of player that home supporters love but opposition fans hate, but not international class, surely, or do you think he is?
Steve - Ask any Bolton fan and they will tell you that Super Kev should have been in the England team a long, long time ago. He has always been attacked for being a one dimensional player but he showed early in his career, first at Chesterfield and then at Southampton, that he is far more than that. It wasn't his fault that he got labelled with being a target man under Big Sam and Megson. But even under them he showed he had more and he showed he can score goals a couple of seasons ago when he got ten in a season for the first time. Is he international class? Whisper it quietly, but probably not. That, however, hasn't stopped other players getting into the England squad in times past. Emile Heskey anyone?
worbo - Whilst we are on about players, Ali Al-Habsi, you are not having him back, he`s been fantastic so far this season, obviously he won`t be today and he will be missed, he adds an air of confidence to the defence, we love him at the Latics, what`s the Wanderers fans thoughts on him?
Steve - When Jaaskelainen was out injured at the back end of the 2007-08 season, Splinters (I call him Splinters as he spent so much time in the bench he must have a lot of them in his backside), came in and performed heroics. He has always been a more than reliable keeper in the games that he has played and has been very unfortunate that he has a top quality keeper like Jussi in front of him.
As far as I know, every Bolton fan is happy to see him playing well, even if it is, sorry, for Wigan and we wish him all the best this season. As for him coming back, there are two schools of thought.
Adam Bogdan came in and played well after Jussi was suspended for happy slapping Roger Johnson and some feel that it would be unfair on Bogdan to be put back to third choice come next season, that he is young enough to withstand waiting on the bench for Jussi, who is now 35, to retire. There are also those who think that Al-Habsi should be brought back next season as Jussi can't last forever and Bogdan is too green. As for me, if Wigan or anyone else offer enough, and here I'm talking towards £5million, I'd say thank you. I dare say others would disagree.
worbo - If I could have one Bolton player in the Latics team it would be Al-Habsi, but seeing as we already have him I`d go for Cahill, good defender, a leader and a threat at set pieces, if you could choose one of our players to stick in the Bolton line-up who would it be?
Steve - Al-Habsi........ Ok then, if not him I've always liked the look of Rodallega. He can play either up front or on the wing and has certainly still got his best years ahead of him. He has the ability to turn a game without a doubt.
worbo - How do you see the Premier League going this season Steve? I think that there is a shift, Man United are definitely not the force they were, Liverpool have gone and City look like they are set for the challenge, top four for me will be champs Chelsea, then Man City, Arsenal, Man U.
Down at the bottom I think that Birmingham will be found out this season, an aged team with nothing more than work ethic to offer, Wolves look a poor side and Blackpool will do a Burnley and fade badly, my bottom three then Brum, Wolves and Blackpool
How do you see it Steve?
Steve - Chelsea seem to have been able to grind out results even with half their team missing and, for me, are still the team to beat. Having said that, City have beaten them, and I think it will be those two who will be challenging for the title come May. I also like the look of Arsenal and they seem to have found a pearl in Jack Wilshire, although after last weeks sending off, it seems he spent too long in the company of our left back Paul Robinson when he was on loan with us last year.
As for fourth, if United don't get this Rooney thing sorted out soon it could seriously affect them and I think that they will struggle to even get fourth. But that has been said before and McTaggart has always confounded us. Fourth to me is up for grabs between anyone of four clubs, but I think that Honest Harry will get Spurs there again. The Van de Vaart signing was an exceptional bit of business.
At the bottom, Wolves for me can only play one way, no matter what McCarthy says, so there will be only one team with the name Wanderers in the Premier League next season. West Ham have previously had a team that was too good to go down, but still went down and I think that will be the case again this season.
However, I think there is more to Blackpool than Burnley, partially because I can't see anyone poaching Holloway part way through the season. There is an ethic there that Burnley lacked, as could be seen by the way they took the game to City last weekend. They'll struggle and be on the end of some cloutings but I think they'll stay up.
I'd like to say the bottom three now will go down. That will cause no end of merriment in my house as the wife is a scouser. However, I'd also go for Birmingham. They couldn't stomach the fight when we came back to draw 2-2 after Jaaskelainen's sending off and have only played one of the big boys, but find themselves just outside the relegation zone.
So, Wolves, West Ham, Birmingham.
worbo - Prediction time, I think we will continue our good run of late, this is a game I am really looking forward to and I see a spot of revenge for that drubbing you gave us at the Reebok last season, 2-0 Latics win for me.
Steve - Defensively we are always liable to concede, but usually only the one. However, whoever we play I always say Bolton to win 2-0. I've been betting 2-0 on every game since the beginning of last season and am currently £250 down. One day it will come in, that day will be Saturday.
worbo - Thanks for the chat Steve, catch you later.
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Date:Friday October 22 2010
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