BOLTON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 21: Bolton Wanderers Manager Owen Coyle gestures during the Barclays Premier League match between Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City at the Reebok Stadium on August 21, 2011 in Bolton, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Manchester United return from the international break when they travel to the Reebok Stadium on Saturday for an English Premier League tie versus Bolton Wanderers. Ahead of that match, we arranged a 'Question and Answer' exchange with Lion of Vienna Suite, the Bolton site here on the SB Nation network. As always, most of our questions were provided by the readers here at The Busby Babe. Mark Yesilevskiy, a writer for LoVS, was kind enough to provide answers. Here is the Q&A:
TBB: Can you elaborate a bit on Stuart Holden's injury? I know his knee was injured in this fixture last season but reports seem to indicate that it was a severe laceration and/or structural damage. How is his recovery coming along and did he feature in this week's reserves match? If he returns to full fitness and form, is he automatic as first choice in the center of the park?
LoVS: The 50/50 ball that Stu Holden and Jonny Evans went in on in that last fixture created a deep gash in Holden's leg that required 26 stitches but also led to a damaged anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). His timetable for recovery was 6 months (which he is perfectly on pace for) and he's showing fantastic signs of being back at full fitness as he's featured in Bolton's last two reserve matches, a 7-0 drubbing to Fulham and a 1-1 penalty win against Rochdale. I don't think that anyone will question Holden's abilities once he is at full fitness but Coyle isn't one to toss him right back into the ring. Look for him to get substitute minutes against United.
TBB: Daniel Sturridge seemed to have done a great job for you last season while on loan. But with him not rejoining, and Johan Elmander on his way out, who are your goalscoring threats? Do you feel that Ivan Klasnic's early three goals are a harbinger of things to come? Which of the newcomers (Nigel Reo-Coker, Tuncay, Dedryck Boyata, Gael Kakuta, David Ngog, etc) excite you the most?
LoVS: Klasnic has had a brilliant start to the season with three goals in the first three games but I expect him to cool off and quickly. Klas doesn't have much pace which is what Bolton sorely lack. Once David N'Gog establishes himself in the side, I expect him to take the goalscoring reins and would love to see him go on a Sturridge-like streak. N'Gog excites me the most because as I mentioned earlier, Bolton really need pace at the front and I believe N'Gog is the man to provide it. Kevin Davies doesn't score many goals but what he does extremely well is set them up thanks to his flick-ons into the box. Expect David to get on the end of a few of those.
TBB: What are the supporter's general thoughts on Owen Coyle as manager? Time will certainly tell but do you feel that he can bring the same sort of success that Sam Allardyce brought to the club? Coyle seemingly desires "attractive football" but he was recently quite dismissive of Zonal Marking's recent suggestion that not much has changed from Big Sam's direct style of play.
LoVS: Many of the supporters are skeptical of Owen Coyle and want to see results but I wouldn't put that on Coyle's performance, we Bolton fans are used to disappointment. Coyle has been much better received than the likes of Gary Megson or Sammy Lee whose terms are widely considered the club's Premier League dark days. Owen Coyle inherited his Bolton squad and has spent the last 1.5 seasons making it his own. Like Owen said when he criticized Zonal Marking (who I very much respect), his game isn't one that can really be quantified but one doesn't have to look much further for the wonderful Mark Davies team goal against Blackpool at the Reebok last season to see this side's potential.
TBB: What are your expectations for the season? Is there a certain place in the table that you would deem as successful? Squad depth seemed to be an issue last campaign for Bolton -- despite the injury to Lee Chung-Yong and the concern about Holden, do you feel that Coyle has improved the squad depth for this season?
LoVS: A top half finish would be successful for Bolton but I feel that we are a side that can challenge for Europe, especially when this tough first seven game stretch is over. Coyle has definitely strengthened the side thanks to the eight signings he made over the summer. While some positions are still thin in depth (right and left back), we are absolutely spoiled for choice in the center of the midfield, an area that caused problems last season when Stuart Holden was hurt.
TBB: What is your predicted starting XI for Saturday? And finally, would you care to offer a prediction for the match?
LoVS: I don't expect Owen Coyle to make too many changes to the side that's been run out so far this season. Bolton will look to reduce the damage as United are very obviously a strong side.
Goalkeeper: Jussi Jaaskelainen
Defense: Gretar Steinsson, Zat Knight, Gary Cahill, Paul Robinson
Midfield: Chris Eagles, Fabrice Muamba, Nigel Reo-Coker, Martin Petrov
Forwards: Kevin Davies, Ivan Klasnic
I expect the substitutes to come into the game to be Stuart Holden, David N'Gog, and Gael Kakuta
Prediction: 1-1 with Kevin Davies and Chicharito on the scoresheet