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EPL Season Preview: Bolton Wanderers

Bolton's official logo. I won't share with you my thoughts on what it looks like.
Bolton's official logo. I won't share with you my thoughts on what it looks like.

Team name: Bolton Wanderers Football Club

Nicknames: The Trotters. Because Wanderers was too obvious, I suppose. Also sometimes called The Whites or The White Men

Location: Horwich, in greater Manchester. The club used to play in the town center of Bolton but relocated to Horwich, which is inside the borough of Bolton, in 1997.

Ground: Reebok Stadium (capacity: 28,723). Aston Villa were the first team to win there, 1-0 on October 4, 1997. Villa also hold the honor of playing in front of the first Premier League crowd of less than 20,000 which took place at Reebok on October 28, 2007.

Manager: Owen Coyle. Middle name Columba, which I find amazing for some reason. Coyle managed Burnley to the Premiership in 2009/2010 for the first time in 33 years, and really gave their fans something to cheer over when the Clarets beat Manchester United in their first home match. Then, in early January, Coyle left Burnley for Bolton, leaving the Burnley fans rather upset with what they saw as a betrayal of the way the club had treated him. But Coyle wanted to stay in the Premier League and with Bolton he was able to do that (He also played for Bolton from 1993-1995). The Scot is a solid, young manager and it's unlikely that Bolton will be relegated under his leadership.

Last year's record:

Premier League: 14th position

League Cup: Fourth Round, lost to Chelsea

FA Cup: Fifth Round, first drew 1-1 with Spurs, then lost the replay

Brief History: Christ Church FC formed in 1874, but after a fight with a vicar, broke away from the church and became Bolton Wanderers in 1877. They were one of the founding members of the Football Association in 1888 and won their first FA Cup in 1923. They followed up the win with two more FA Cups in 1926 and 1929, but slipped out of the first division for the first time in the early 1930s.

The Trotters managed to stay in the first division from 1935-1964, winning the FA Cup in 1958, the last time Bolton captured a major trophy. The backward slide really began in 1980, when the club spent just two seasons in the first division after fourteen seasons in the second. They found themselves in the third division in 1983, and by 1987Bolton had fallen to the bottom, to the fourth division.

But by 1995 Bolton was back in the Premiership, albeit for just a single season. They spent a few years bouncing back and forth, but have managed to stay up for the past decade. The Trotters reached the League Cup final in 2004, and in 2005 finished sixth in the league, securing a place in the Europa league for 2006-2007, the first time in their history that they'd been involved in European play.

Bolton made it to the final 32 of Europa in their first season while finishing seventh, thus securing a second straight year in Europe. In 2007-2008 they reached the final sixteen before starting a slide toward relegation-zone mediocrity. Last season, under Gary Megson, Bolton managed only 4 wins in 18 matches, along with some very ugly football. After Megson was sacked and Owen Coyle installed as manager, the club finished with 39 points and 3 spots clear of the relegation zone.

Rivalries: It appears as though their greatest rivalry is with Wigan Athletic, but there is also a smaller rivalry with Blackburn Rovers.

Players to Watch:

Gary Cahill: The former Villa defender was sold to Bolton in January 2008, where he became both a fan and team favorite, winning the players' player of the year for 2008-2009. The center-back, who many believe could be a key player in future England squads, has attracted the attention of many teams seeking to find English talent to fulfill the new "home-grown" rule. However, Bolton have slapped a fairly high (£15 million) price tag on Cahill, indicating that they'd like to keep him around. Look for him as a traditional, strong presence in the back, but one that is able to get forward and score every so often.

Lee Chung-Yong: Last seen playing for South Korea in the World Cup, Lee scored an injury time goal against Argentina and the only goal in the Round of 16 defeat to Uruguay. Villa fans should delight in knowing that his first Bolton goal came at the expense of the Bluenoses. Lee is young, only 22, but is a threatening force at right wing, where his speed and accurate crosses produced five goals and eight assists last season.

Kevin Davies: Bolton's captain is most famous for his physical play, having committed the most fouls of anyone in the Premier League. At 33, he's probably nearly done with his fouling career, and with only 8 goals in 40 appearances last year, it seems that his striking career might be almost over as well. But he has said he wants to end his footballing days with Bolton, so watch for him captaining their forward line.

A Villa Fan Says... "Ugh, four hours per season is four hours too many to spend watching a bunch of tattoo'd brutes beat up Villa players."