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Bolton Wanderers are back in the Championship after a successful League One season, with only run-away winners Sheffield United being better than them last term.
Despite the signing of several good players from outside the country, particularly by Wolverhampton Wanderers, the exits of Newcastle United and Brighton followed by individuals like Tom Ince and Jacob Murphy has made the league rather weaker and easier over the last couple of months.
Getting into the top six is not as daunting a task as it could have been for the promoted sides and in Bolton’s case, they may be a very good live outside bet to sneak in. Here are three reasons why:
Despite promotion and an increased budget, the Trotters have not wished for money to part hands. The loan and the free transfer of lively Newcastle United players Adam Armstrong and Sammy Ameobi look like good deals for the club and are supplemented by free transfers for several others.
Stephen Darby played for one of League One’s better sides last year, Bradford, while Adam Le Fondre, Will Buckley and Mark Little were all at this level or above. These signings, despite not costing a penny, have added proper second tier quality to the squad and the improvement is obvious.
The above names have been swapped for outgoing players such as Max Clayton, Conor Wilkinson, Dean Moxey, Lawrie Wilson, Liam Trotter and Jamie Proctor and all of them have gone to lower divisions, meaning Bolton have increased their quality significantly.
While the money spent by Wolves and Middlesbrough adds to the aura of Aston Villa and Derby, teams may not be quite as naturally motivated when they go to Bolton and that can play into their hands.
Given the squad they are quietly amassing, teams coming to the Macron Stadium and giving any less than 100% are likely to be put to the sword and all those points will only add up. Bolton, despite a Premier League past, are not a massive scalp for most fans and players and as such, they can use their opponents’ profligacy to their advantage.
We’ve seen this so many times in English football; a team getting promoted in successive seasons. Winning in this game remains a habit and Bolton have done plenty of that in the last twelve months. Regardless of what level they were doing it at, Bolton scored plenty of goals and won plenty of points and will carry on doing so.
Expect Bolton to give it a proper go at promotion to the Premier League.