What Bolton need for promotion next season

Bolton Wanderers Crest

Bolton have been among the favourites for promotion from the Championship the last two years since being relegated from the Premier League.

Bolton's squad on paper is as good as any in the Championship. They have a strong, experienced defence, committed and able midfielders and player's who can make an impact at the front of the team. On paper. 

Despite this they didn't pick up their first win in the league until October and have had quite an unremarkable season. Things have steadily picked up for Dougie Freedman's side as we reach the conclusion to the Championship year though, most notably with the 4-0 and 1-5 wins over Blackburn and Leeds. 

A solid base is the best place to start with a football team and Bolton seem to have that. Adam Bogdan is undoubtedly one of the Championship's best goalkeepers.

Zat Knight, David Wheater, Tim Ream and Alex Baptiste have started to prove more consistent and Alan Hutton was brought in on loan to strengthen further. 

In front of them Jay Spearing and Medo are both capable of controlling the ball and protecting the defence. Neil Danns, Lee Chung–Yong, Liam Trotter and Andre Moritz all bring a creative spark to that midfield and are capable of creating or scoring goals – Moritz being Bolton's top scorer with seven. 

Since joining Bolton on loan from Middlesbrough in January, Lukas Jutkiewicz has been the difference. Six goals and two assists in his 12 appearances so far show that. 

Freedman spoke after the 1-1 draw with Wigan saying: "That's probably the difference in this division, two strikers up top. Burnley have got it, Leicester have got it,"

That combination was definitely the difference when Bolton took on Leeds and won 5-1. Jutkiewicz was used up-front with Joe Mason, two strikers who offer different things. The 22-year-old Mason doesn't win aerial duels but thats not needed when Jutkiewicz is playing, as he can be the physical one while still strong in possession. 

Going forward if Freedman can sign the Polish striker permanently and develop promising young forward Sanmi Odelusi to the standard he believes he can reach, Bolton's problem of finishing their chances can be put to bed. 

At Palace Freedman brought through the likes of Zaha and Johnny Williams, among others, in a team that went onto gain promotion after he left the helm.

Bolton have a number of experienced heads within their squad, but no doubt Freedman will be looking for the combination of youth that has proved successful to him in the past. 

After having built a good base this season, and steadily improved as the campaign has gone on, plans should already be in place for next season.

For success, opportunities need to be given to the likes of Rob Hall, Joe Mason and Lee Chung-Yong. 

Financial problems are rife at Bolton, and Freedman is used to jobs with little money. For Bolton to return to where they should be, emphasis needs to be placed on creating their own players to strengthen around what they have. 

Fans have been patient with Freedman to this point. From their perspective it can seem like he hasn't done much for the club.

I'm of the opinion that a new manager won't help Bolton over the summer, but if results don't improve next season and Bolton don't find themselves in the top six, then will be the time to judge. 

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch