Premier League Countdown Day 3 of 10: Bolton and Burnley
Welcome to Day 3 of our 10 day countdown to the start of the new Premier League season. Each day we feature two clubs in alphabetical order and weigh up their chances of success in the top flight. Today we feature Bolton and newcomers Burnley. Chelsea and Everton follow tomorrow.
Bolton boss Gary Megson hasn`t had the easiest of times since taking over the reins at Bolton, especially from the fans, a large section of whom want him out to be replaced by a higher profile manager. Part of the problem regarding his popularity is Megson doesnt have the charm and charisma of his predeccesor `Big Sam` Allardyce. Even Megson himself said shortly after his appointment, “It`s not easy for the fans to love me, but hopefully they can try”. Having joined Bolton from struggling Leicester City he spent 17 months before that out of football, the appointment shocked most of the fans and the football world.
Bolton narrowly avoided relegation last season so that is probably the major reason why fans feel the way they do. As to the coming season, fans will be asking whether it will be another season of struggle, we think with new players drafted in over the summer like Sean Davis, Paul Robinson, Zat Knight and Sam Ricketts a slightly better than mid-table position is wholly achievable.
Megson has had a hard time following in the footsteps of Allardyce but you have to be fair, Allardyce during his time took Bolton into Europe and quite rightly the fans expected the same from Megson, but Big Sam spent big and the directors started to get jittery about the club heading for debt. Megson on the other hand has had his hands tied somewhat on bringing in expensive players, Zat Knight being his most expensive signing at £4m.
The Bolton boss is saddled with a signing bought in by Allardyce, that player is Swedish international Johan Elmander, a £7m purchase who was officially a flop last season producing just 5 goals. Megson will be relying on the Swede to score a great deal more now he has his feet firmly established at the Reebok. If however, Megson doesn`t get a reasonably good start to the coming season and its not going to be easy to achieve that, as the first 4 games include an away trip at Arsenal and a home game with Liverpool with Hull and Sunderland in between, he could be heading for the exit. October will be a very testing month with games against Chelsea, Man Utd, Spurs and Everton.
If Megson finds his side in the bottom three by the end of October he will face a rough ride with the fans yet again, not to mention the possibility of a swift P45.
Players In: Zat Knight (Aston Villa, £4m), Sam Ricketts (Hull City, undisclosed), Sean Davis (Portsmouth, free), Paul Robinson (West Brom, loan)
Players Out: Blerim Dzemaili (Torino, undisclosed), James Sinclair (released), Robert Sissons (released), Nathan Woolfe (released)
So Burnley get their taste of top flight football for the first time in over 30 years, 33 years to be precise and we say good luck to them because they will need plenty of it. Burnley`s promotion was somewhat of a fairy tale, great for football and a proud moment for the fans, but sadly, many fairy tales have a sad and wicked side to them and many neutral fans of football will have Burnley down as a `banker` for immediate relegation before a ball is kicked.
The good thing going for Burnley this season and premier league survival is their manager Owen Coyle who masterminded the promotion but perhaps more importantly is the passion, desire and committment Coyle has to the Burnley cause, it`s this single factor that could keep Burnley up for a second season. Coyle turned down the chance to manage his boyhood heroes Celtic, imagine for one moment, how much courage it must have taken for the young Scot to turn down that dream job in favour of staying with Burnley to see the dream through. The man should be awarded a medal for committment to the cause.
When you consider Burnley last season in the Championship in August were bottom of the table, Coyle guided the side to promotion, that is one helluva feat, add to that a fantastic Carling Cup run that ended in the semi-finals and you have a man full of passion that obviously transfers those qualties through to the players.
Burnley know how to score goals, 72 last season, but of course the huge jump to Premier League standards will see far less this season. With five new players coming in, Burnley will have a reasonable size squad but we fear survival will be just too much for the club that is based in a town of just 85,000 odd population.
Players In: Tyrone Mears (Derby, £500,000), Steven Fletcher (Hibs, £3m), David Edgar (Newcastle, undisclosed), Richard Eckersely (Manchester Utd, undisclosed), Brian Easton (Hamilton, £350,000)
Players Out: Alan Mahon (Tranmere, free), Steve Jones (Walsall, free)