On the bus from Bolton town centre to the ground we were discussing what Chris Wilder’s first starting XI would be.
‘It’s obvious,’ I said, before reeling it off from one to 11 (or whatever their actual numbers were), plus five of the seven subs.
For the record, the ones I got wrong were Adams (who was on his way out) and Wallace (I went for Calvert-Lewin and Freeman on the bench).
This isn’t to say that I’m some sort of Mystic Meg, but a simple perusal of the evolving line-ups of the pre-season matches gave it away.
At least that’s one thing Wilder has on his predecessor – the new boss settled on his best eleven early, in contrast to Nigel Adkins, who chopped and changed in the hope of randomly landing on a decent team, and continued to follow that course of action for the the entire season.
I don’t think Wilder will be doing that, only tweaking here and there as the situation demands.
But that first-choice eleven didn’t do the business at Bolton. It wasn’t awful (as it was at Gillingham a year ago), but neither was it great.
United were slightly the better of two unimpressive teams, but I didn‘t see anything that indicated that either side will be in the top two at the end of the season.
Of course there’s a long way to go, but I don’t believe in that guff that says it takes time for a lot of new players to gel.
They’re professional footballers, accustomed to playing alongside a lot of different players throughout a season and throughout their careers.
That comes with the job.
There isn’t time to give them time to ‘gel’ - they need to do it now. But I’m far more confident that Wilder can knock them into shape than I ever was with Adkins.