As Bolton prepare to face QPR in today's early kick-off, could they be about to start fulfilling their promise?
At the start of the season I did what many claim is impossible and plenty believe to be foolish – I predicted the final Championship table.
In so doing, I put Bolton Wanderers second, but their form since then has suggested I got it gravely wrong.
That they are currently 19th with just two points from their first three games doesn’t tell the whole story. Those matches have been against two of the division’s best sides in Reading and Nottingham Forest; while their opening game was a draw against a Burnley side that has proved to be the season’s surprise package thus far.
After Bolton’s 3-0 loss to Forest last weekend, manager Dougie Freedman said, “We have to draw a line under this and not look too much into things.”
It was a case of another team outperforming them on the day, of catching an opponent in their prime. And yet if Freedman wishes to fulfil the promise of last season’s renaissance, he must ensure Bolton are the ones performing to their peak in the weeks and months ahead.
That Bolton now welcome promotion favourites QPR to the Reebok Stadium means it doesn’t get any easier for Freedman and his side. But it is time to show fans and rivals alike that the pre-season predictions were not completely misinformed.
The Trotters are currently on a 12-match unbeaten run at home, and they cannot afford for that to change in today’s early kick-off.
If it does, Bolton could find themselves cast adrift with the campaign barely begun.
The Championship has always been an unpredictable adventure for those caught up in it. But few would have predicted that Bolton would start so poorly. Three points this afternoon would go a long way to pushing them up a table they were tipped to dominate.
What do you think the score will be this afternoon? And were we right in tipping Bolton to do so well this season?
image: © Matthew Wilkinson