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Know Your Opponent: Bolton Wanderers

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SBNation doesn't have a Bolton blog yet, but I didn't have to reach too far to find someone to talk to. My friends Mark Yesilevskiy and Matilda Hankinson manage a fine Bolton Wanderers blog that you can find right here

Matilda was kind enough to answer my questions about Bolton, which you can find below.

Kevin McCauley: How are you feeling about the way Bolton have played to start the season?

Matilda Hankinson: We started very positively, playing nice football and getting decent results, however our pace has dropped off a little in the past couple of games. We also are still having some of our problems from last season, albeit to a lesser degree, in that we're not keeping clean sheets and we're not taking advantage of periods of dominance.

KM: A lot of people are excited about Stuart Holden, are you surprised that he's already a Premier League starting quality player?

MH: No, I quite rated him from the moment we signed him. His injury obviously slowed him down for a while, and I think had that not happened he would've been where he is now by the end of last season. It must be mentioned his place in the starting lineup is that he filled an empty niche for Bolton, our midfield lacked direction, organization, and general hunger and Stu provides some. 

KM: Who are some of Bolton's other standout players to start the season?

MH: Surprisingly enough, Johan Elmander has been having a very good season. He was physically incapable of scoring a goal last season and now leads our score sheet. He has publicly put this down to the change in management, claiming that Megson couldn't coach him at all. Whatever it is, I've had a lot of words to eat because of it. I also could not answer this question without mentioning Kevin Davies, he always contributes so much to the team not only with his goals, but also his work rate in the box setting up his teammates. 

KM: What have been the biggest changes between the Gary Megson era and the Owen Coyle era?

MH: It sounds cheesy, but our attitude on the pitch has changed drastically. Under Megson we continually settled, played for the draw, and when you aim low the results follow. Coyle seems to have our players excited about playing football, we press harder and for the whole game instead of the first 30 minutes. 

KM: What is Bolton's ceiling this season? Their floor?

MH: I'd say that we won't go higher than 7th nor lower than 16th. It very difficult to tell now where anyone will end up, the table is so congested. If we can keep up our start to the season, single digits aren't out of the question. That said, I could also see our form dropping off around Christmas seeing us coast into a mediocre end to the season.

KM: Attendance has been less than stellar at the Reebok. Is this mostly because of skepticism about the team's ability for success because of what the results have been like since Sam Allardyce left?

MH: That's certainly partially it, although average attendance was already in decline in Allardyce's last season. During the Megson Era, particularly toward the end, the Reebok was simply a depressing place to go. As a team, which includes management players and fans, we were complacent, and there was a palpable gloom over the whole stadium. I like to think that the gloom is lifting and that attendances will follow.

KM: Do you think any January signings are going to occur?

MH: We'll probably get a couple of young players on the cheap like we always do, but the club doesn't have the money to splash out significantly.

KM: Let's say you're Bolton's director of football and I give you £20m. Who are you going after?

MH: Ashley Cole, no doubt. Left back is a huge weak spot for us. Paul Robinson has improved this season, but I still don't think he's Premiership quality, even for Bolton.

Finally, a prediction for tomorrow morning?

MH: Bolton 2-1 Spurs. It is a bit optimistic, but I think Spurs will be quite tired after their European success Wednesday, particularly Gareth Bale, plus we always raise our game against you lot.

Thanks a lot to Matilda for participating, and make sure that you guys checkout The Offside - Bolton once in a while.