The victory over 'noisy neighbours' Manchester City over the past weekend in a FA Cup tie helped take some of the sting away from Manchester United losing two successive Premier League matches in the outings before that. However, United are forced to get back on the league saddle on Saturday when they host Lancashire side Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford. Ahead of that encounter, Matilda Hankinson from over at Lion of Vienna Suite -- the Trotters fansite at SB Nation -- has been kind enough to do a Q&A exchange with us. Most of the questions have been supplied by you -- our readers -- and a few have been supplemented in by your handsome and humble editor here at TBB (me!). Without further ado, here is the Q&A:
TBB: Do you feel Bolton should have done more to try and persuade Johan Elmander to renew his contract? How much has the loss of Elmander, and also Daniel Sturridge, been a factor to Bolton's difficult start this season? How do you feel their replacements have fared?
LoVS: I was never a big Elmander fan, and was not especially sad to see him go, along with his wages. That said, it is hard to argue with the goals he scored when he could be bothered doing it. I think we're missing Sturridge more than Elmander, and it is true that the replacements brought in haven't done a stellar job. This is partially to do with lack of service from the midfield and general lack of possession, but that's a whole other argument.
TBB: Darren Pratley came with a good reputation from Swansea and scored from inside his own half in the playoff final last year -- how has he done? Who do you feel your standout players have been thus far this season? Who have been the biggest disappointments?
LoVS: Darren Pratley is a divisive character amongst Bolton fans. He has had his good moments, but the problem is that they are moments, and rather fleeting ones at that. Unfortunately for Pratley, football isn't played as a highlight reel, and so he's been a bit of a disappointment. The standout signing from the summer would undoubtedly be Chris Eagles, who has done a better job at replacing some of the creativity loss in Chung-Yong's injury than many expected. As for the team in general, that accolade would have to go to Jussi Jaaskelainen. The team has been a mess, but without him we would be even worse off. Kevin Davies has been the biggest disappointment to me. While he hasn't been bad, he is not the leader nor the player he used to be.
TBB: Do you mind sharing your thoughts on the Gary Cahill transfer rumours? If he were to be sold during the current transfer window, do you feel you could avoid relegation without him? How has he done this season?
LoVS: At this point, I am so tired of hearing the transfer rumours, I'm just ready for the deal to be done with. He hasn't had a spectacular season, but then again, few Bolton players have. He will be missed at the back, he does well organising and the central defender pairing of David Wheater and Zat Knight doesn't exactly inspire confidence, but I wouldn't classify whether he stays or goes as a make or break point in the relegation battle.
LoVS: I am not aboard the Owen Coyle Out train just yet, but this is mainly because I don't see any suitable replacement. Coyle's main weakness is his lack of tactical knowledge, and I think the situation could probably be fixed by a good assistant.
LoVS: If all goes to plan (which is rarely does for Bolton) Both Stu and Chungy should be back within the next 3-4 months. Losing both of them has had a huge effect on the creativity of the team. When the team underperformed because of it, the players lost a lot of confidence, and it became a massive spiral. The injuries are not the direct cause of the Bolton's struggles, they definitely are a factor.
LoVS: As I said above, tactics are a bit of a foreign concept to Owen Coyle, so the answer is no. Generally the formation is a 4-4-2, or on really crazy days a 4-5-1/4-4-1-1 with Kevin Davies dropping into a deeper role (if he plays). The play does tend to go to the right side if Chris Eagles is playing, as he has become a major provider in the team. The left is the definite weak spot, as Paul Robinson is very easily beaten in defense.
LoVS: Jussi Jaaskelainen (if fit)-Sam Ricketts-Zat Knight-David Wheater-Paul Robinson-Chris Eagles-Nigel Reo-Coker-Mark Davies-Fabrice Muamba-Martin Petrov-David Ngog. I'm going to say 3-2 to United. I could see quite a few goals, but while Bolton's results have been improving, I wouldn't back them this weekend.