Cottagers Confidential: What were your reasonable expectations for Bolton this year? Promotion? Relegation? Safely mid table?
Lion of Vienna Suite: I thought going into the season that Bolton would end up safely mid table with an outside shot at the playoffs. This was the consensus amongst our supporters, although there were those who felt the club might be in danger of relegation. They are having their moment in the sun right now, but I think Bolton will ultimately find its footing somewhere in the 8th-12th range by season's end.
CC: Being that I don't get to watch a lot of Championship football in the states, what can you tell me about Dougie Freedman and the system he runs at Bolton?
LoVS: This has actually been the problem under Freedman. He tries to adjust to his opponents rather than have his team establish their own style of play. So far this season we have played a 4-4-2 with two wingers, a 4-4-2 with a diamond midfield, a 4-2-3-1, and in our last match, a home loss to Derby County, a 4-3-3, which Freedman later admitted was dead wrong. As for Wednesday night at Craven Cottage, expect to see a squad that is almost entirely British, has little or no pace, can't keep possession, and makes schoolboy errors in defense.
CC: As an American, I always have an affinity for clubs that have Americans in the squad. Bolton has two. What can you tell me about Tim Ream? Is Stuart Holden close to returning and is there any expectation that he salvages anything in his career or is it more likely he retires and continues his work as a broadcaster?
LoVS: Tim Ream is a central defender by trade, but when he initially arrived at Bolton he had trouble establishing himself at that position. Recently, he has become a victim of his own versatility. Already this season Ream has started matches as a central defender, a left back, and a right back. He has also made occasional appearances as a holding midfielder. Last season he was our Player of the Year, but that was more a reflection of the club's poor performance than his great performance.
As for the Stu Holden saga, how it will end is still unclear. Holden is technically not under contract with Bolton Wanderers, but is eligible to play for the reserves, the development squad, the under-21 squad, basically anywhere but the first team. This is a special agreement, I suspect because it is very difficult to insure him. He is currently rehabbing in the US, and not particularly close to attempting a comeback. If he does resume his playing career, which is no sure thing, it will be with Bolton Wanderers. If he is able to get through a series of games outside of the first team squad, a pay-for-play deal is on the table.
CC: If you can, predict a lineup and final score.
LoVS: As I mentioned earlier, predicting a Dougie Freedman lineup is nearly impossible at this point, but I would suspect there to be 5 or 6 changes from the team that lost to Derby on Saturday. I also consider it likely that he will return to a 4-4-2 formation. As for a score prediction, I will say 2-2, since neither of our sides can really defend.