By Henry Austin
No longer will our football fayre be served up at “The Reebok” and there’s been a little bit of grumbling in Bolton about the name change.
We’ve traded, some say down, from sportswear manufacturer Reebok, to well, sportswear manufacturer Macron.
Admittedly, it’s always been a purpose built sponsored stadium, so the change will be less hard to swallow than having a new name foisted on you by a fat sportswear salesman and to most Wanderers fans, this won’t matter.
In the same way that “The Sports Direct Arena” will always be “St James’ Park” to Geordies, “The Reebok” will always be “The Reebok.” The official name “Middlebrook” never really took.
But perhaps the transition from one of the World’s leading sport brands to the lesser-known Macron is a reflection of the team’s current status.
We’ve been a Championship team now for two years now and that doesn’t seem likely to change this season.
Chopping, changing, selling and loaning, our manager Dougie Freedman is a classic fit for the division.
But as we approach the season opener at Watford (oh the glamour), in Jermaine Beckford and Craig Davies, we only have two recognized strikers on the books.
Gone to Burnley are loanee Lukas Jutkiewicz and the frankly mysterious Marvin Sordell, who arrived as a £3 million Olympian and leaves as a £500,000 enigma – a man who basically did nothing in two-and-a-half years at the club.
In come Neil Danns, Dean Moxey, Quade Taylor (notice the former Palace links) Liam Feeney, Liam Trotter and Dorian Dervite. Another forward, Joe Mason may or may not arrive on loan from Cardiff again.
The lack of striking options has forced Freedman into once again playing a 4-5-1 formation, with Beckford as the loan striker.
In theory this should give us a good defensive base but last season we shipped goals playing this formation (witness the 7-1 demolition at Reading) and it was only a decent run towards the end that staved off fears of another relegation.
So solid Championship players, playing in a solid Championship formation is hardly likely to inspire fear into the hearts of our opposition, especially the teams who have just come down from The Premier League.
It’s hard to say which of Cardiff, Fulham and Norwich are best equipped to cope with the hustle and bustle of the Championship.
With the eccentric if loaded, Vincent Tan and the baffling Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the helm, Cardiff are an unknown quantity, despite having seemingly excellent players and only having spent a year out of the division.
Norwich are well run and Fulham have been spending a fair bit, but whether they’re still suffering from the hangover from relegation remains to be seen.
Either way, they’ll have to adjust quickly to facing strong sides like Blackburn, Derby County, Brighton and Nottingham Forest as well as the newly promoted Wolves, who look like they have the bit between their teeth.
One thing’s for sure, there are no easy games in the Championship and we’re hoping that will be the same at The Reebok, sorry The Macron.
Because no matter who your sportswear sponsor is, we’re pretty much all cut from the same cloth.
Photo credit Wikipedia