Date: 19th August 2012 at 2:57pm
Written by:

It is true that you can make anything out of statistics that you want. Take last season for example. Out of the three teams that were promoted to the Premier League at the end, only Southampton won. Reading drew and West Ham lost. At home.

Then there have been our own promotion winning seasons. In 2000-01, we started with a home draw against, ironically, Burnley . 1996-97, the season of one hundred goals, started with a 1-1 draw away at Port Vale. The previous promotion two seasons earlier had started with another draw, this time 3-3 at Grimsby . Some may remember 1987-88 when we were in Division Four, which began with a 1-1 draw at home to Crewe . OK, these are not losses, but neither are they a local derby against a group of fans who have enough time on their hands to fly a plane over the ground with a banner attached to it and against a bunch of players, some of whom Owen Coyle brought to Turf Moor, who may have a point to prove..

This is not an apology for what happened yesterday, another performance that started brightly and then quickly went down the pan. But, before anyone wants to get all Ernst Stavros Blofeld on Owen Coyle and feed him to their piranhas, you have to remember it is one game. Just one game.

And what was it you were expecting, a cake walk in the sun? The Championship is a grind. A long, long grind. We are going to lose games. We are going to lose games by more than two goals. Are people going to be calling for resignations left, right and centre every time we are beaten by teams that we consider to be our inferior? Here`s a wake up call. They aren`t our inferior. They are in the same division as us because they deserve to be there. Did people call for Colin Todd`s head in August 1996?

And for those that say this is a continuation of last season, would that be the end of last season where, although some performances weren`t all that good, we lost three times in eleven games and two of those were to teams challenging for Europe ? Premier League teams coming down to the Championship can suffer from culture shock, so let`s not think that we`re going to end up in League One next season, playing the likes of Tranmere on a more regular basis.

Having said that, the old failings were still there. The defensive frailties, the lack of shots on target, the lack of pressing and the lack of urgency. Whilst Burnley`s first goal was offside, the whole defence stood with their arms up when they should have been challenging the header, allowing the ball to play ping pong in the area after it had come off Tyrone Mears face. The second goal was too easy as well, the ball being allowed to cross the goalmouth and a lone Burnley striker, this time Charlie Austin, having the ball simply rebound off him and into the net. Time and again this happened last season, with no one taking responsibility for clearing the ball. It happened again yesterday.

And it could have been worse. Burnley were better organised and although the stats show a pretty even spread of shots, Bogdan was undoubtedly Bolton`s man of the match, whereas Grant had very little to do. Bolton` two best chances were ballooned over the bar by Petrov or mishit by LCY. The second could be explained away by a general rustiness, but you would expect Petrov to have put his shot on target.

The midfield were overrun, Andrews seemingly hamstrung by his early yellow that does not bode well for the rest of the season. Mark Davies was anonymous and whilst LCY and Petrov were good going forward, as soon as Burnley got the ball, the popped it over his head and allowed the winger to run at Ricketts. Petrov did his usual trick of looking at what was going on and then deliberating whether it would be worth his while running back. With the midfield losing out, the defence decided to go to plan B and hoof it to SKD, who was losing a losing battle. His withdrawal for Afobe midway through the second half a blessed relief. At the same time, Eagles was brought on for Petrov, rather than trying the left footed Wylde or going for five across the midfield. Eagles, played out of position, did little but fared a lot better than Darren Pratley, brought on for Mavies later on in the game, whose one action of note was to get himself booked.

The maligned Zat Knight did admirably with his head, so Burnley changed their game to playing along the floor, something that Knight cannot cope with. Both central defenders weren`t at the races yesterday and Mears appeared to be dazzled by playing at Turf Moor again. Ricketts sole rear guard action didn`t do him any favours either.

At least when Afobe came on he and Sordell worked together well, but before that happened, Sordell was proving just why he wasn`t selected more last season. If you shut your eyes, you could just imagine that this was the middle of last season, all over again.

Congratulations to Burnley, who played an excellent game and fully deserved their win. But it is one game, just one game. It is out of the way now. There are two home games to come now this week. Once we have got them out of the way, everything may be a little clearer. Either way.

For this to happen, changes will need to be made. Riley at least has to go to right back. Whilst he had a good game, by his standards, Knight will remain a liability on the floor and Mills should come in. Calls for Eagles to replace LCY are premature, LCY needs the game time, but after Mavies did less than nothing yesterday, Eagles could be preferred to him in the middle. As for up front, hard though it will be for people to hear, if SKD is there, there will be always be the inclination to hit it long. I’m not saying he plays no part, but we need to be cleverer than that. He was bossed by Burnley yesterday, and that shouldn’t be. Afobe to start alongside Sordell, at least to see what they will be like. And better substitutions if needed. We know what Pratley and Eagles can do. Why wasn’t Wylde tried?


9 Replies to “Bolton Wanderers: One Game”

  • Yes I hear what you say about one game, but cast your eye over one other game. With a backbone of ex Bolton players and Sam in charge, I guess West Ham are in for a fair Premiership season. Gartside, Megson and Coyle have presided over the shambles that brought us here. This could be judgement season.

  • Thanks for that i enjoyed reading it. There’s too much negativity in a lot of these blogs all aimed at Owen Coyle should be sacked because he’s clueless! I don’t even know what that means because there’s never an explanation of why he’s clueless! We had a decent run at the end of last season like you say so was he clueless then aswell? I wasn’t expecting a result against Burnley there’s too much venom involved on Burnleys like other people said this was their cup final, you’d think the petty ********s would have given it up by now plenty of managers leave clubs and take backrom staff with them, most new managers at a club don’t want someone else backroom staff anyway!
    I just hope Holden shows the form he did when he last played regularly when he comes back!

  • Good article, as usual. I was at the game and I can’t agree more about the anonymity of Mark Davies. As our central midfielder his job is to find some uarked space in the middle of the pitch, collect the ball from our defence and distribute it to the forwards. Time and again the defenders looked up for airfield option but had to resort to hoofing it forward because Mavies was either too closely marked, had flaked off to the wing or just disappeared completely. IMHO he’s a bit of an expensive luxury at the moment and someone with a bit more presence is needed in that role. The problem is: we haven’t got a decent uninjured alternative

  • The last three games of last season were all shockers for the defence, this hasn’t changed. The midfield were also totally outplayed in these games also. What has changed? I’m not calling for OC to go, he & the players need to do better, much better.

  • Mavies is only effective when playing with a two-man shield behind him. In the brief period we did this, we beat Liverpool 3-1 and drew against Arsenal. I think the shield was NRC and Pratley. OC then went back to 4-4-2 against Wigan at home and we lost. Even after we beat Spurs 4-2 and Newcastle 5-1, Mavies was brought in for Muamba against Blackpool and we fell two goals behind. (Although Mavies admittedly scored an equaliser.) Coyle should know that Mavies is useless in a two-man midfield and instead of moaning about Holden being injured, used his limited resources to get a player to play alongside someone in the two-man shield in a 4-2-3-1 instead of wasting money on N’Gog. That is why Coyle is clueless.

  • It is only 1 game. I was there though and its difficult to accept when they play with a complete lack of urgeny. They just didnt seem to care. I was sat next to the tunnel and there was a lot of abuse thrown at the team and Coyle as they came off. I couldnt help feeling it was deserved. We need a leader on the pitch, someone to marshall the players, hand out a rollicking when required and keep the heads up when the chips are down. Am sorry to say it but SKD is a shadow of his former self. Andrews did his best when Davies went off, but lets face it he is a stranger in a new team. After watching on saturday i cant see in our squad where the answers are gonna come from……..

  • Agree with Dan. We don’t seem to have a leader. And I don’t just mean a captain. Somebody with nous, who can shout at people, direct affairs, change things if need be. Danny Murphy springs to mind. We now have a squad who barely know each other and have spent precious little precious game time together to be able to assert their authority. Sure, we have plenty of experienced players but with no experience of each other. My point from yesterday was that we play like a bunch of strangers assembled last night in the pub. And thank you Mr X for yet another balanced, well reasoned account. It is only one game and it is a very long season. Things can only get better. Have cancelled OC’s taxi…for now.

  • As a Burnley fan I know what you are saying mickbwfc but how many managers ditch their club, in their first Premiership season, in January, one week before the transfer window closed? Also we had listened to 18 months of Coyle going on about loyalty and about how he was “with us for the long term”. When he went to talk to Gartside he said he was visiting his family. He’s a hypocrite and a not very good manager. I had started to dislike him intensely long before he left. I have always liked Bolton and I think you should get shut of him, he’s full of excuses for his own poor tactics. Most of the team that got us to the Prem were brought to the club by Steve Cotterill – before Coyle.

  • reality tells you we would have been relegated 12 months earlier had it not been for the goals and points won by Sturridge. Under Coyle the team has been in constant decline, our best players have been allowed to leave replaced by much lesser players, Coyle has spent millions on rubbish. 12 months ago we sold arguably the best Goalie in the prem Al Habsi, now we are reliant on our young 3rd placed goalkeeper . Instead of improving the team and improving results Coyle has created a team far worse than the team he inhereted from Megson. I read the story above with sadness, given it fails to accept Coyle put out a team that failed in every sense of the word to perform like a winning team, you cannot blame the players you must blame the manager, for all his nice qualities Coyles record since taking over has been extremely poor, relegation was cruel in so far QPR were far worse than ourselves and fortunes changed at the death on very dodgy referee decisions, however, we should never have put ourselves in that position to begin with, alas the excuse of ” we are to good to be relegated ” voiced by Coyle all season proved he was a bad manager, probably filling the players with a false sense of security. any manager worth his salt would have told his players ” we will be relegated if you don’t improve and fight to win in every game” so never ever think you are to good to fail

Your Comment