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Bolton fan gives a glimpse into what could be to come for perma-crisis club Sunderland

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Fan Focus time! Rory caught up with Eddie Skelly - from Bolton Fansite Lion Of Vienna Suite - to preview tonight’s match, find out what’s led to Bolton getting in the almighty mess that they’ve found themselves in recently and if he thinks Sunderland are heading in the same direction.

Bolton Wanderers v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

RF: It's hardly been quiet at Bolton since we last faced each other in the league. You've had transfer embargos to deal with, and have struggled to pay players and staff. Can you give us a brief rundown of what has been going on to cause all of this?

ES: It's been a rollercoaster ride of emotions since our departure from the Premier League five years ago. Eddie Davies, our former owner, decided to stop funding the club two years ago (a more detailed look at Davies here). Debts had risen to well over £200 million and as a result, staff and players were paid late and a transfer embargo was enforced.

Despite the lingering threat of administration, a deal was struck to sell the club to former striker Dean Holdsworth's Sports Shield and our now chairman, Ken Anderson's Inner Circle Investments in March 2016. Eighteen months on, Ken Anderson became the sole owner as Holdsworth's Sport Shield were liquidated in court, due to the non-repayment of a £5m loan. Anderson subsequently bought Holdsworth's shares, and the transfer embargo was finally lifted last month. Things are looking better now, but a new investor with substantial funds is still needed if the club have any chance of getting back to the Premier League again.

RF: To look on the bright side, your form has improved over the last three games and you were unlucky not to win away at Fulham. Are you still hopeful that you'll stay up or are there too many other factors at play to even consider that?

ES: If we have any chance of staying up, key players need to remain injury free. Since coming back into the side, Sammy Ameobi and Josh Vela have been integral to the upturn in form. If they play consistently and if we can sign one or two more attacking options as well in January, then we may just about scrape a 21st place finish. It's not impossible, but we need to start putting games to bed when the chance arises.

Bolton Wanderers v Stoke City - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

RF: We're obviously in dire straights at the moment and relegation is a real possibility for us. Do you see any similarities between what is unravelling at Sunderland what's happened at Bolton? How worried should we be?

ES: It's the same story for a lot of teams that drop from the Premier League. Not only just Bolton, but the likes of Blackburn, Charlton and Portsmouth especially. Without the wealth of money that clubs have in the Premier League, it's no surprise to see so many teams struggle.

There's certainly some parallels between Bolton and Sunderland, mainly having an owner who doesn't want to be there. At least we had a season pushing for promotion, it looks like you've skipped that completely.

RF: Sammy Ameobi is definitely going to score, I've already accepted that. Is there anyone else we need to keep an eye on though, or is he the main threat?

ES: Ameobi is probably our main threat, as shown with his form since returning from injury. I'd keep an eye out for Josh Vela and Gary Madine, two players who'll try and put as much pressure on your defence as possible.

Karl Henry has been the leader we were missing at the start of the season midfield, whilst I'd expect Will Buckley to relish playing against his former side should he get the chance. I'm also hoping Newcastle loanee Adam Armstrong puts in a good shift against his parent club's rivals.

Bolton Wanderers v Stoke City - Pre-Season Friendly
Josh Vela could be one for Sunderland fans to keep their eye on tonight
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

RF: How about our lot, anyone you're worried about in the side who haven't won at home in almost a year?

ES: Well we've gone 32 games in The Championship without an away win. There's a few high profile names that stand out in your team. I'd expect Aiden McGeady to be the biggest threat, as well as former Bolton targets Jonny Williams and James Vaughan. I'm also sure Lee Cattermole will be his usual tough tackling self, despite his recent form.

RF: What approach do you think Phil Parkinson will take in this game and what do you think the starting line up will be?

ES: As is the case with many of our games, I think the plan will be to try and get an early goal and defend the lead. I'm sure Phil Parkinson will select the same XI from the past few games, apart from Andrew Taylor, who picked up an injury at the weekend. I'd expect to see Everton loanee Antonee Robinson start in his place.

RF: Finally, give us a score prediction?

ES: I'll go with 1-1. Let the winless streaks continue!


Thanks to Eddie. You can check out Lion Of Vienna Suite over on their website and follow Eddie on Twitter.