Last year, a big part of our ability to grind out results when they mattered was character. Good character is something that Phil Parkinson has always instilled in his squad, and this season is no different. It’s something I may write about in a future post. However, one of the big changes this year is our quality in the final third.
Sure, we’ve had good players in the final third – Madine was immense last year; Ameobi could produce moments of magic, and Filipe Morais was one of the best crossers I’ve seen play for Bolton in a while. However, this year the quality really seems to have stepped up.
Let’s take a look at Wildschut’s goal against Reading. It’s a phenomenal ball from Craig Noone. Noone has started to look like the Craig Noone of 2013 – one of the best players in the Championship at Cardiff, and long may this continue. Meanwhile, the run from Wildschut is intelligent, and timed to perfection; his finish is calm.
Some nice link up play also saw Josh Magennis tee up Will Buckley, whose tame effort was easily stopped. This shows that there’s clearly work to do in this department, and while we’re looking more clinical, we can do better. I hope Will Buckley starts to get some confidence with the run of games he’s had, and can start firing on all cylinders like Noone. Buckley, too, has been a great player at this level (think back to his time at Brighton) and is still at a good age.
If things don’t work out with Buckley, then what a player we have still in Wildschut! Powerful, pacy, and now having shown himself to be composed in front of goal, the Dutchman has made a really compelling case to start our next match on the left wing.
Throw Ameobi back into the mix, we’ve got some great competition when it comes to our wingers.
Now, up front, Josh Magennis has already impressed with his work rate and aerial dominance, along with his finishing. Clayton Donaldson looks to be a good backup to Magennis who can hopefully provide some competition. We’re clearly not the finished article up front, and we certainly need to add to our options but we’ve started well.
We’ve also got Oztumer who could come in as a more attacking option in the number 10 role to replace Josh Vela. Oz’s first team debut was strong and capped off with a well taken goal.
Things are looking good for Bolton going forward. We seem to have real quality for the first time in a while.