Quick Reminder, Real Life
A hot start to the season seemed to fall apart when rising playmaker Stuart Holden was injured and Elmander, who started the season blazing hot, cooled dramatically. Bolton fell to 14th in the final accounting. Much-ballyhooed summer signing MPet (Martin Petrov) failed to recapture the form he demonstrated in his first season with Manchester City. Kevin Davies kept doing what Kevin Davies does.
The problem is that Bolton found themselves stranded between Owen Coyle’s attacking style and personnel left over from Big Sam’s grind it out style. That could potentially be a great thing or an ugly thing and last season it seemed to transition from being the former to being the latter. It could have been worse but Chelsea's Daniel Sturridge scored a flurry of goals after coming over in January on loan.
Quick Reminder, Fantasy
If you put Elmander (first half) and Sturridge (second half) together, you’d have had one great forward (18 goals). Holden had a very nice early season run of putting up “phantom points” in the Yahoo scoring system - tackles, corners and fouls won, successful crosses, etc. Gary Cahill, Jussi Jaaskelainen, and Matty Taylor were typically solid but ended the season a bit on the overpriced side based on their production.
- Forwards Backing Out - Sturridge is back at Chelsea for the time being and Elmander’s first half priced him out of a return to Bolton now that his contract has expired. Not good news as no equal replacements have come in so far and it’s hard to attract talent to a remote location even if you have a lot of money to throw around which Bolton don’t. Bendtner was rumored to be an option in part exchange for Cahill but Big Nick didn’t fancy the middle of the table and the middle of nowhere (I’m channeling his thinking, I don’t have anything personally against Bolton).
- Cahill Following? - Like Blackburn's Chris Samba, the rumors have been getting heavier and heavier that Cahill will be leaving for a bigger club with Chelsea and Arsenal both mentioned as possible landing spots. Bad news since there aren’t many ready-made replacements on the roster unless you really fancy David Wheater.
- Is Everyone Leaving? - Veteran left-sided utility player Matty Taylor has joined Kevin Nolan in recreating Big Sam’s old Bolton team at Upton Park - bad news when your productive players are stepping down a division rather than sticking around. Not like Taylor was on his last legs.
- Marginal Reinforcements - So far, the only signings that Bolton have made were playing in the Championship last season. Chris Eagles and Tyrone Mears have Premier League experience and have been at least adequate at this level and Darren Pratley seems like a solid addition but none are the types that will excite fans, worry opponents, or replace the goals that Elmander and Sturridge have taken with them. At least Reo-Coker played in the Prem last season but he did so as a reserve.
2011-12 Outlook, Real Life
It seems like there are probably still a few moves to be made at the Reebok but you’d have to be the biggest of optimists (or Bolton homers) to interpret the summer’s comings and goings as positive even if Gary Cahill defies expectations and sticks around. You just don’t know where the goals are going to come from. When Allardyce was the manager you could see maybe getting away with that but with a manager intent on a classy passing attack, you wonder how things could possibly work out. Probably too good to actually go down but without some striking reinforcements it feels like 15th or 16th and an uncomfortable last few weeks of the season as they try to avoid relegation.
Probable Starting XI
Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Knight, Robinson, Eagles, Gardner, Pratley (Holden once healthy, presumably), Petrov, Davies, Klasnic
2011-12 Scouting Report, Yahoo Fantasy
- Fantasy Gold - Not much gold here unless you want to give Holden credit for a very strong showing over 26 matches.
- On The Rise - Every season a variety of factors create opportunities for value buying in the Yahoo! game:
- Klasnic (new starter) doesn’t get me terribly excited but at 5.93 and the new presumed starter you could do worse when looking for a bargain.
- Alonso (rising talent) isn’t a sure thing but in a brief cameo, he did well in fantasy terms while his price stayed low - if he gets an extended chance, give him a look.
- M. Davies (seeking an opportunity) we saw his potential in week 15 when he had a 20+ point performance. His set pieces are very good if he gets the chance and his price if very low. I don’t hold high hopes for him being super-productive but there aren’t a ton of value plays here and we have to write about something.
- Traps - With MTay and Elmander gone, there really aren’t any high priced players who haven’t justified their prices - in fact, there really aren’t any high priced players at all.
2011-12 Outlook, Official PL Fantasy
Studs: Wait, Daniel Sturridge is gone? Sturridge finished last season on such a roll for Bolton and I keep clicking “refresh” on my screen hoping he’ll show up again in Bolton’s list of forwards but he’s just a dream. Instead, we are left with perpertual stud Kevin Davies (6.5M) who will find a way to finish with his typical 6-10 goals and 4-6 assists (and 2,500 fouls) and once again the 100+ Fantasy Premier League point barrier. A solid if not sexy pick, he won’t strike fear into your fantasy opponent’s heart, but he will get the job done in and around the penalty area. Honorable mention goes to Croatian sensation Ivan Klasnic (6M) was was an absolute stud at Werder Bremen for years and has loads of Champions League experience. He could provide decent returns as long as he starts consistently. That’s the big if. 30+ starts should equal Kevin Davies-esque returns at a 0.5M discount.
Duds: Fabrice Muamba (5M) and Nigel Reo-Coker (4.5M) may not start consistently but if they get playing time due to injury or form, don’t go near them - they are defensive minded and prone to bookings - so despite the cheap prices, you shouldn’t be tempted. Stay away.
On the fence: I am a huge Martin Petrov (5.5M) fan and if it wasn’t for his poor season last year, he’d be a ‘stud’ in my books. The Bulgarian winger still has pace despite his advancing years and is a set piece specialist. He should hog corners and free kicks and with the likes of Klasnic, Davies, Cahill and others superb in the air, he should get his fair share of assists. If he stays fit (big if) I really believe Petrov will be a popular fantasy pick as a solid 5th midfielder. He won’t produce Charlie Adam-esque numbers but think Joey Barton from a year ago - if fit. Maybe 5 goals and 8 assists - which would be an amazing return for a player priced 5.5M. Keep a very close eye on his progress in the early weeks despite Bolton’s incredibly difficult starting schedule.