July 12, 2006
The 2006/07 English Premier League Way Too Early Preview: Part 4
Last Season: A fairly boring campaign which saw them nearly finish in a UEFA Cup spot. Eighth spot was the best they could muster.
Defining Moment of Last Season: The 1-1 draw at Highbury which saw horror tackles flying in all over the place in typical Bolton style.
Transfer Ins and Outs: Bolton have thus far only brought in Israeli Idan Tal on a free transfer. They have also been linked to Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann.
Leaving the club were Jay-Jay Okocha and Hidetoshi Nakata as the latter decided to retire completely from the game following the World Cup.
One Sentence Description of Playing Style: It’s as simple as booting it down the pitch, winning a throw in, launching it into the box and hoping something happens.
Best Case Scenario: 5th, Allardyce seems to get the best out of an aging team year after year. Ricardo Vaz Te may be a player to watch though.
Realistic Goal: Top Half, Bolton have moved out of the relegation battles in the last couple of seasons and their top brand of pragmatism should see them finish up the table.
Last Season: They were mired in the relegation battle before replacing Graeme Souness with Glenn Roeder. They then shot up the table to finish with a place in the Intertoto Cup. This also means their season starts in a week.
Defining Moment of Last Season: Michael Owen breaking his metatarsal kicked off a run of results that made the Magpies the form side in the league.
Transfer Ins and Outs: While they have been linked to David Beckham, Newcastle have not done much in the transfer market.
Apart from Alan Shearer’s retirement, Michael Chopra left to get regular time in the lower leagues.
One Sentence Description of Playing Style: Newcastle prefer to control play because a weak defensive line is exposed frequently with devastating effect.
Best Case Scenario: 5th, With a couple of signings in defense and another striker to replace the injured Owen, Newcastle should be back among the second class in the Premiership.
Realistic Goal: 7th, The coming season will be a failure if they should fail to match the expectations they created in the run up last season.
Last Season: Pegged for a relegation battle, Rovers defied the pundits by qualifying for Europe with relative ease in sixth position.
Defining Moment of Last Season: The 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in September signalled the arrival of Blackburn as a force for the season and Morten Gamst Pedersen as a top player.
Transfer Ins and Outs: Craig Bellamy got his dream transfer to Liverpool a few weeks ago and Paul Dickov was released. As a result, Mark Hughes has signed Jason Roberts from Wigan to replace them. He has also put in bids for Norwich striker Robert Earnshaw. However, UEFA Cup football was not enough of a pull for Mido.
One Sentence Description of Playing Style: Blackburn grind out results through a combination of competent finishing and kicking their opponents off the park.
Best Case Scenario: 5th, Hughes plays a style that doesn’t rely on particular players to do special things. Sixth place was good, but they could go one better this season.
Realistic Goal: 7th, That said, the loss of Bellamy may be too much to bear in the attacking department to finish as high as they did last season.
Last Season: Spurs flirted with Champions League qualification for their first 37 matches before a stomach virus struck on the eve of their final match against West Ham. In the end, fifth spot was a disappointment.
Defining Moment of Last Season: Spurs have always been a “nearly” club and the last match of the season continued to reinforce that fact. Champions League football was denied by something completely out of their hands.
Transfer Ins and Outs: Spurs have raided France for their two summer signings in France Under-18 captain Dorian Dervitte from Lille and Didier Zokora from St. Etienne. Leaving the club was Mido whose loan had expired. The future of midfielder Michael Carrick is in doubt after Manchester United had several bids rejected.
One Sentence Description of Playing Style: A ground based attack capable of producing quite attractive football.
Best Case Scenario: 3rd, Spurs have a young side that had fourth spot ripped from their clutches. That may make them much more determined to finish ahead of their north London rivals Arsenal.
Realistic Goal: 5th, Spurs established themselves as a much better side than the 15 clubs below them. To fall back into those ranks would be disappointing.