Is there anything sweeter than seeing a fallen giant in football? Luton in the Conference, Juventus in Serie B, Rangers in the Scottish League Two, Arsenal in the Championship (not yet, but mark my words). Football fans everywhere, especially those who remember the greatest injustice in football, would have been heartened to see Bolton end up in League Two last year, and although they ended up promoted, they’re still in a league with the likes of Accrington Stanley, Fleetwood Town and plucky old Cambridge United.
It’s Cambridge United who Bolton visit tomorrow, playing at the Abbey for only the second time since said injustice (we’re still not over this, but we’ll try not to mention it again), and they arrive with an expensively assembled squad, having learned absolutely nothing since the financial mismanagement that plonked them and their stunning brand of total football ((c) Bolton Wanderers, 2020) in the basement division in the first place.
United come fresh from a midweek cup defeat at Millwall, whereas four time FA Cup winners Bolton went out on penalties to one time FA Cup winners Wigan. A real battle of the giants that, eh?
Mark Bonner has a few injuries to contend with, but the good news is that Jack Lankester is getting ever closer to full fitness. There’s also the return of one Wesley Hoolahan to get excited about, after he sat out Tuesday’s game. Mitov will keep his place in goal, and the rest of the defence will probably be the same as the one that started at the Den. In midfield, Liam O’Neil will partner the Digger, with Brophy and Wes completing the four. Sam Smith should start up front with Joe Ironside, but Bonner might also drop another man in the middle instead.
Expected U’s Line Up: Mitov, Williams, Jones, Masterson, Iredale, Hoolahan, Digby, O’Neil, Brophy, Smith, Ironside
Who’s Their Player To Watch? As exponents of Total Football, Bolton have a wealth of players to choose from, Gullit, Van Basten, Rijkaard all some of the best in the wor… sorry, we got them confused with Holland 1988 there. That said, Bolton do have some genuinely good players, not least ancient-but-still-good defender Alex Baptiste, goalscoring threats Eoin Doyle and Josh Sheehan and Antoni Sarcevic, comfortably one of the best players in League Two last season (behind Wes, obviously)
Who’s In The Dugout? Ian van der Evatt. Inventor of Total Football and football genius. Linked with PSG, Man City, Bayern and numerous national teams, Evatt has shown his loyalty to Bolton and stayed put to bring his Total Football philosophy to League One.
What’s Their Recent Form Like? So-So, two wins, two draws in the league.
Last Time Out: Bolton 2-1 U’s, 9 March 2021
United fell victim to Bolton’s Total Football at the Reebok Stadium or whatever it goes by now. Still finished above them though.
From The Archive: Bolton 2-2 U’s, 28 November 1987
No we’re not going to show you that unpunished assault on Trevor Benjamin again, even though it is, and remains, the worst refereeing decision ever made on a football pitch. Instead we’ll go back to 1987, where the world’s greatest team Bolton Wanderers sit in Division Four. Giants indeed…
We preview the Bolton game, and have a chat with one of their fans in our latest podcast. Listen below.