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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers Banter » Bolton's Cambridge defeat leaves two key questions to be answered

Bolton's Cambridge defeat leaves two key questions to be answered

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wanderlust
karlypants
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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
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Two years on since Wanderers were snatched from the edge of the financial abyss, it seems churlish to call for the club’s owners to dig deep or miss out.

Every one of the 1,500 travelling fans who snaked two sides of the Abbey Stadium on Saturday lived through a living nightmare in 2019.

Now, Bolton Wanderers 2.0 has emerged from that unsavoury mire thanks to Football Ventures, and had moral compass repaired. But no matter what debt supporters owe Sharon Brittan and Co for saving their club’s soul, almost every one of them walked away from the ground hoping there would be at least one new signing to avoid many more frustrating afternoons like this.

Defensively suspect for 20 minutes, relatively impotent in attack for the next 70, this was a big reality check for anyone who thought Wanderers’ return to League One would be a leisurely punt down the River Cam.

By the time the National Lottery balls had been drawn, there were calls for another proven goal-scorer, an imaginative number 10, two full-backs, a pint of lager and a packet of crisps – but it would be most un-Bolton to react to one poor result by changing their transfer plans. These days cooler heads preside.

This narrow defeat, following as it did the penalty shootout exit at Wigan Athletic, does offer some scope for debate. Ian Evatt has a squad which looks more balanced than it has for several years, albeit the lack of a direct replacement for Eoin Doyle remains a bugbear for many.

The big question is whether this tight-knit, hard-working squad is good enough to do what Evatt wants it to do?

League One has some big names – Bolton being one – and some hefty budgets. The ever-aspirational Evatt believes his side can challenge at the top end of the table without spending the sums that other clubs have this summer. And what a wonderful story arc it would be if Football Ventures could add Championship football to their list for their third anniversary.

For inspiration, Cambridge’s own ascent is not a bad example. Their promotion from League Two was based on the surprising 34-goal haul of Paul Mullin – now at Phil Parkinson’s Wrexham – and a fearless attitude on the pitch which could be seen from the first whistle against the Whites.

While it is tempting to criticise Bolton’s poor delivery from wide areas, the wasteful finishing, the lack of tempo before half time, perhaps we should also acknowledge the home side’s magnificent defensive effort too?

George Williams and Conor Masterson were particularly impressive for Mark Bonner’s side, along with goalscorer Shilow Tracey and target man Joe Ironside, who brought out a level of mere mortality in Ricardo Santos that we haven’t witnessed in months.

Early on, Ironside’s physical presence allowed Cambridge to get up the pitch and create a few good chances. Wanderers, meanwhile, were lost in the rush.

Williams’ cross-shot was clawed from under the bar by Joel Dixon, another dangerous ball skipped inches wide of the post, before, finally, Wes Hoolahan’s clever pass played in an unmarked Tracey to pass in the game’s only goal from 12 yards.

The switch from positive to negative was instant. Wanderers would play the rest of the game faced with a 10-man defensive wall but only had themselves to blame.

The likes of Josh Sheehan and MJ Williams started to get on the ball but too often in their own half, a slow, laboured build-up which had their hosts simply shifting side-to-side in neat rows like table football men.

Dapo Afolayan looked like the only man capable of breaking through those invisible boundaries and he did blast one effort just over the bar to give Bolton’s fans at least some hope a result could be saved in the second half.

Things did improve after Evatt had his say at the break. Afolayan again looked like the main man – but Declan John had sparked into some life on the left and Santos, Williams and Sheehan had dropped into gear and were moving forward again.

An equaliser should have been found when Sheehan’s dreamy pass over the top put Afolayan in past Williams but Dimitar Mitov was able to save with his feet and Wanderers’ best chance of the day spurned with only an hour played.

Sheehan did hit the post with a deflected header, the whole incident unfolding in slow motion in front of the Bolton fans who chose to park their backsides instead of cheer on from the terraces.

And though Wanderers and Evatt went through the motions, changing shape, bringing on Elias Kachunga and Nathan Delfouneso to end the game with all their attacking options on the field, it never quite felt like it would be enough.

Cambridge celebrated every block, every tackle, every clearance heading out of the stand. And rightly so. Wanderers had gobbled up 75 per cent of the possession on the day, so to protect a 1-0 lead for more than an hour against incessant pressure was no mean feat.

There was timewasting. Of course, there was timewasting. Again, however, it felt like any injustice that Bolton felt at the final whistle had been self-inflicted.

Then the analysis began. Is there enough punch up front? Why has the quality from wide areas disappeared in the last couple of games? Just how hard has this squad been hit by Covid, and do we need to be concerned that its effects could stretch beyond the transfer window?

For the next couple of days, though, we can forget the fine details; there are only a couple of questions that really need to be answered.

Have Wanderers new owners complied with the EFL’s rules and paid off the unsecured creditors they inherited two years ago?

And is there any cash left in the pot to bring in another player before that pesky window slams shut?

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wanderlust

wanderlust
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
I suspect they have already "dug deep" to get this squad together and nobody wants us to go down the rabbit hole of overspending again. Besides, this squad looks capable of surviving in this league and on their day can give anyone in it a game.
All this talk about promotion is just poor expectation management especially for a team that has just got into this division and pushing the idea of buying promotion is ludicrous.
For me the two key questions are 1) can the lads play to the best of their ability every single game? and 2) can the key players stay injury and suspension - free throughout the season?
If the answer to both those questions is yes, then there may be a chance of getting in or around the promotion slots.
This team is L1 standard and if by some miracle we did get promoted then what? Buy an entire Championship standard team? Get real Iles.

Whitesince63


Tony Kelly
Tony Kelly
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:I suspect they have already "dug deep" to get this squad together and nobody wants us to go down the rabbit hole of overspending again. Besides, this squad looks capable of surviving in this league and on their day can give anyone in it a game.
All this talk about promotion is just poor expectation management especially for a team that has just got into this division and pushing the idea of buying promotion is ludicrous.
For me the two key questions are 1) can the lads play to the best of their ability every single game? and 2) can the key players stay injury and suspension - free throughout the season?
If the answer to both those questions is yes, then there may be a chance of getting in or around the promotion slots.
This team is L1 standard and if by some miracle we did get promoted then what? Buy an entire Championship standard team? Get real Iles.

What are you on about? Nobody’s even suggesting the club overstretch itself financially again, in fact IE has made it perfectly clear numerous times that he isn’t going to do that but we do have room for at least one young player and possibly more if we can move Ali, Brandon or Delf on, not to mention one or two others like Brocky and Senior out on loan. There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be challenging for promotion but if you don’t want to believe that it’s your choice. I personally believe we have little to fear in L1 if we can just improve our forward line during the window.

Norpig

Norpig
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
I'd be happy enough just finishing mid table this year, back to back promotions would be very hard. I we are looking more financially stable then where's the rush?

Sluffy

Sluffy
Admin
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:I'd be happy enough just finishing mid table this year, back to back promotions would be very hard. I we are looking more financially stable then where's the rush?

I'm not having a pop and I know I'm being somewhat pedantic but we may be 'acting' that we are more financially stable but the accounts show that we are anything but 'looking' it!

Indeed as it stands the club 'owes' more than what it has in assets to pay everyone back!

As long as the owners don't mind dipping their hands in their pockets that's not a problem but it is exactly how Eddie Davies financed us - and when he reached his limit - that's when we plunged into Winding up petitions, Ken Anderson and all that followed.

In theory tomorrow is the deadline to stump up something like £3.5m (iirc) to pay off the unsecured creditors OR incur a 15 point penalty.

I think we can forget about back to back promotions if that happens - although I'm fairly certain FV has got it covered.

Fingers crossed they have though!

And the 'rush' - if there is one - is for the club to become financially profitable - there's a lot of money that's been borrowed that needs to be paid back by certain deadlines and they can't achieve that by staying in this division.

If the owners want to keep pumping their money in though then not a problem - at least for as long as they do!

As we simply don't know how much and for how long the owners want to subsides the club from their pockets, we simply have no idea how urgent (or not?) it is to get into the Championship.

Certainly it appears that the owners don't seem too particularly worried for now if we don't get promotion at the first opportunity.

Whitesince63


Tony Kelly
Tony Kelly
I hope they’ve got tomorrow covered too Sluffy and I’m confident that they have and if so that at least gets one financial monkey off our backs. As for going forward, I have no evidence to prove it but suspect that once we are back in the Championship, FV will be looking to sell the club on. I just don’t think that they have the finances to sustain a club at that level with the wages themselves increasing the burden, let alone the players we’d need to sign to improve on what we’ve got. They could I’m sure finance the club at this level for some time if crowds continued to support them but unless we’re challenging for promotion, they would seriously drop off. For me we need to do everything we can to achieve promotion this year because the sooner we’re in the Championship the sooner we can decide on the next step. I don’t expect us to spend unsustainably but I do expect the club to use every penny they have to give IE the opportunity to get where we all want to go. We should get several answers tomorrow!

wanderlust

wanderlust
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:

What are you on about? Nobody’s even suggesting the club overstretch itself financially again, in fact IE has made it perfectly clear numerous times that he isn’t going to do that but we do have room for at least one young player and possibly more if we can move Ali, Brandon or Delf on, not to mention one or two others like Brocky and Senior out on loan. There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be challenging for promotion but if you don’t want to believe that it’s your choice. I personally believe we have little to fear in L1 if we can just improve our forward line during the window.
I think it was you that pointed out that the club lost a load of money getting promoted last season - £3.5 million wasn't it? Or was that the previous season? Either way, we ain't loaded.
Having already "improved the forward line" with the acquisitions of Bakayoko and Amaechi who will both be back in contention in a month or so, throwing more money at it will either make a positive change - in which case we'll have wasted the money we've already spent on those two - or it won't in which case there's no point in doing it.
We've conceded a shedload of goals, many of them avoidable - maybe that needs attention if there's money to burn? But there isn't as you went to great lengths to point out and nobody's been offloaded from the payroll yet.
If you'd bother to read what I actually write before making your usual knee-jerk reaction to anything I post  - there is no reason we shouldn't be challenging for promotion - but there are plenty of reasons why we should neither talk about it nor expect it at this point in time - the key one being expectation management.
And please stop claiming you have the faintest clue about what I "choose to believe" - it's cringeworthy.

Sluffy

Sluffy
Admin
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:

What are you on about? Nobody’s even suggesting the club overstretch itself financially again, in fact IE has made it perfectly clear numerous times that he isn’t going to do that but we do have room for at least one young player and possibly more if we can move Ali, Brandon or Delf on, not to mention one or two others like Brocky and Senior out on loan. There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be challenging for promotion but if you don’t want to believe that it’s your choice. I personally believe we have little to fear in L1 if we can just improve our forward line during the window.
I think it was you that pointed out that the club lost a load of money getting promoted last season - £3.5 million wasn't it? Or was that the previous season? Either way, we ain't loaded.
Having already "improved the forward line" with the acquisitions of Bakayoko and Amaechi who will both be back in contention in a month or so, throwing more money at it will either make a positive change - in which case we'll have wasted the money we've already spent on those two - or it won't in which case there's no point in doing it.
We've conceded a shedload of goals, many of them avoidable - maybe that needs attention if there's money to burn? But there isn't as you went to great lengths to point out and nobody's been offloaded from the payroll yet.
If you'd bother to read what I actually write before making your usual knee-jerk reaction to anything I post  - there is no reason we shouldn't be challenging for promotion - but there are plenty of reasons why we should neither talk about it nor expect it at this point in time - the key one being expectation management.
And please stop claiming you have the faintest clue about what I "choose to believe" - it's cringeworthy.

The latest published accounts were for the financial year ending June 2020 - so nothing at all to do with how much the club spent to get promoted last season.

We've actually no idea if 'we' are loaded or not - the simple facts are that the owners have paid more for the assets they have bought than what they have leveraged them for - yet the owners still continue to invest in the company - players (and wages) and brought in and senior backroom staff (and salaries) appointments.

Certainly on the face of it things money doesn't seem to be an issue - at least not a current one?

As for 'expectations', the company is a business and aims to 'sell' its product - the football club - to the public.

In short they want as many bums on seats and matchday income as they can generate.

Of course they expect their manager to be bullish and exuberant about the clubs chances to get people parting with their money to the club.

As for the playing side we finished last season as the best team in the league by a large margin and have 'invested' in signing many key players from last season and the likes of Sheehan who was in the divisions PFA League of the season.

Therefore there is an intent to be a success at this level, the only question being what target the club realistically expects to achieve on the back of signing these players, plus other new signings that we have as well?

I suspect the desire is to be in the top six (or better) at the end of the season.

Is that a realistic expectation?

I've no idea but I certainly believe a top half finish is more than a realistic goal and therefore I don't see any reason why a play off position isn't attainable to us?

I guess the settling of the unsecured creditors and the signing of a striker by the end of the month will indicate a little bit more clearly both our current financial position and the owners belief in promotion being a reasonable achievement for them to secure.

luckyPeterpiper

luckyPeterpiper
Ivan Campo
Ivan Campo
I think a realistic on field expectation would be a top half finish, not necessarily in the play offs but anything above 12th would be decent as things stand. However we do need to get promoted again in the nearish future if only to keep the income going up rather than stagnant or worse declining so I'd say the 22/23 season would be where the club has to spend if necessary to get that done.

But sluffy is right, we simply do not know what the current state of financial play really is since the accounts are a year behind and so we can speculate all day but only FV know what is and is not possible at this juncture. Of course I'd like to see back to back promotions but I don't expect it, not at the cost of overextending ourselves even further at any rate.

Whitesince63


Tony Kelly
Tony Kelly
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
I think it was you that pointed out that the club lost a load of money getting promoted last season - £3.5 million wasn't it? Or was that the previous season? Either way, we ain't loaded.
Having already "improved the forward line" with the acquisitions of Bakayoko and Amaechi who will both be back in contention in a month or so, throwing more money at it will either make a positive change - in which case we'll have wasted the money we've already spent on those two - or it won't in which case there's no point in doing it.
We've conceded a shedload of goals, many of them avoidable - maybe that needs attention if there's money to burn? But there isn't as you went to great lengths to point out and nobody's been offloaded from the payroll yet.
If you'd bother to read what I actually write before making your usual knee-jerk reaction to anything I post  - there is no reason we shouldn't be challenging for promotion - but there are plenty of reasons why we should neither talk about it nor expect it at this point in time - the key one being expectation management.
And please stop claiming you have the faintest clue about what I "choose to believe" - it's cringeworthy.

See, you’re at it again. I’ve never mentioned anything in any post about how much we’ve spent, this season or last, because I have absolutely no idea how our finances are going. I think when it comes to reading what People write this post of yours is a perfect example of why you might do that yourself Wander. 😉

wanderlust

wanderlust
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:

I’ve never mentioned anything in any post about how much we’ve spent, this season or last, because I have absolutely no idea how our finances are going.
Sorry White - crossed wires there. As Sluffy points out, our finances are perhaps questionable and it was him that mentioned the loss in another thread, not you. Reality as always is that we just don't know the overall situation for sure but if we are declaring losses it makes little sense to throw more money at the problem given our recent history - and the fact that we didn't get the Rugby World Cup matches that the media suggested would be an unexpected financial blow to us.
Totally understand Sluffy's point about the business selling the dream but there's a fine line between that and hyperbole and hype tends to have a negative effect in terms of player attitude, opposition attitude and fickle fans support - we're much better off as plucky underdogs Smile
I still feel, on the basis of the games we've played so far this season that in order to get promoted the team will have to stay healthy and be at their best week in week out - because we can play some good stuff when everyone's on their game. But equally there have been a couple of games where the lads haven't been at it and that will have to be ironed out to have any chance IMO.

Whitesince63


Tony Kelly
Tony Kelly
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
Sorry White - crossed wires there. As Sluffy points out, our finances are perhaps questionable and it was him that mentioned the loss in another thread, not you. Reality as always is that we just don't know the overall situation for sure but if we are declaring losses it makes little sense to throw more money at the problem given our recent history - and the fact that we didn't get the Rugby World Cup matches that the media suggested would be an unexpected financial blow to us.
Totally understand Sluffy's point about the business selling the dream but there's a fine line between that and hyperbole and hype tends to have a negative effect in terms of player attitude, opposition attitude and fickle fans support - we're much better off as plucky underdogs Smile
I still feel, on the basis of the games we've played so far this season that in order to get promoted the team will have to stay healthy and be at their best week in week out - because we can play some good stuff when everyone's on their game. But equally there have been a couple of games where the lads haven't been at it and that will have to be ironed out to have any chance IMO.



No probs Wander, we all get mixed up. Ages on everything else and let’s just keep the ship sustainable and hope what we’ve got is enough?

wanderlust

wanderlust
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:

No probs Wander, we all get mixed up. Ages on everything else and let’s just keep the ship sustainable and hope what we’ve got is enough?
As Evatt says, he's always looking to improve and if we have the dosh and Evatt can swing it, Elanga might just do that so I wouldn't be averse to it. I'd be surprised if he comes to us though. We'll see.

Whitesince63


Tony Kelly
Tony Kelly
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:
As Evatt says, he's always looking to improve and if we have the dosh and Evatt can swing it, Elanga might just do that so I wouldn't be averse to it. I'd be surprised if he comes to us though. We'll see.

It would be fantastic Wander but IE doesn’t seem to be looking for a striker, probably another midfield player as if we don’t have enough already.

wanderlust

wanderlust
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] wrote:

It would be fantastic Wander but IE doesn’t seem to be looking for a striker, probably another midfield player as if we don’t have enough already.
Elanga supposed to be a winger though and with Politic going out to Vale and Ameachi injured there is some sense to it. If not we have Isgrove and the kids but compared to other positions we're currently a bit light on wingers.

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