Date: 18th August 2013 at 6:19pm
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I have no idea… Do you?

After the Forest game, I had a sinking feeling. Obviously, a lot of that feeling was to do with the defeat, but coupled with the sense of the loss was a state of confusion. I felt lost. I didn’t understand this feeling because normally after a defeat, I’m angry or upset, depending on the game. 10 minutes after the game at the City Ground I wrote this article. I don’t entirely know what I’m trying to say… Can you decipher my confusion? Or am I talking crap? I don’t mind either way because I need some guidance, pilgrims…

Vital Bolton is for the fans, by the fans. It can be as serious or as jovial as we like it to be. As long as I`m careful- as editor- the articles are of a certain grammatical standard and no offence is caused, I can write, pretty much, anything I want? As long as it`s associated with Bolton Wanderers, of course.

But in this week`s write-up, I`m scratching my head. I`m struggling with things associated with Bolton Wanderers. In the 25 years I`ve been following the Whites, I don`t think I`ve had this feeling about my team before. Don`t misunderstand me, I`m not throwing the towel in on this season, I`m not giving up on Dougie, or the team, or anything like that. I`m trying to understand my home football team again. The team I thought I was familiar with. The team I knew inside and out. Or at least I thought I did.

All this soul-searching wasn`t triggered by the defeat at Forest. The defeat against Forest didn`t come as a surprise to me. It probably didn`t come as a surprise to any of you either. We`ve been beat before. We`ve been beaten by bigger margins, by lesser teams. When we won the league with 98 points and 100 goals, we got trounced by Southend 5-2 about 3 games into the season. This unnerving feeling enveloping me at the moment isn`t to do with results; it isn`t to do with performances. It isn`t to do with players really either. It`s the fact that going to Nottingham Forest and being trounced didn`t come as a surprise to me. After a battling draw at Burnley, a brilliant first-half against the promotion favourites and a commanding display in Shropshire, why did a 3-0 drubbing not come as a shock?

I honestly believe, the Bolton Wanderers I`d become familiar with is gone. I don`t recognise this Bolton Wanderers I see today. I`m searching for the essence of this Bolton Wanderers. The essence of a team, I believe, every fan knows about. For 23 of the 25 years of following the Wanderers, I`ve known the essence of the team. Now, I don`t think I know or understand it anymore.

I can just about remember a couple of games when Charlie Wright was manager. I`ve got a pretty good memory of the Phil Neal days. The Rioch, Todd and Alladyce memories are vivid and they all had something in common. They all had the essence of Bolton Wanderers running through them. We all know the quality of these managers` teams varied. Some varied dramatically. But to me, the essence of a team isn`t about quality, or lack of it. It`s giving the fans that sense of familiarity. Like you`re part of the team. Like they`re playing for you. Like you know what they`re thinking. Like you know what`s coming. They won`t give up. Who the saviour will be and if it`s not him then someone else will pick up the mantle.

The game against Forest showed up all our weaknesses and they shone like beacons: Our defensive frailties, our lack of creativity and our blatant lack of a goal threat. But at some time or another we`ve had these shortcomings in the teams of old and in the teams of old, we knew something would get done. We could identify a problem a rectify it. Sometimes it would happen quickly, sometimes it would take perseverance, but it would get done.

What are our problems now? How do we rectify them? Who can we turn to? Which player can we rely on to get us out of this mess? Who will drag us up off the floor with the scruff of our necks when we`re 1-0, 2-0 or even 3-0 down? Anyone? No-one? I don`t know?

Not only do I not know, I feel I`m searching for the answers to questions I don`t know are being asked.

I hope I can feel attached to my team again soon. Because at the minute I don`t feel I know the Bolton Wanderers I’ve been following for 25 years and that scares the hell out of me.


8 Replies to “BWFC: The Essence”

  • I wonder whether we have been so used to being in the Premiership, that as soon as we dropped down a division, we fully expected to do well and get back. But the Championship has proved to be a minefield for us, as it has for so many so-called top teams! Now expectation is high again this season, fuelled by a near play-off spot last year; pre-season comments from Dougie and generally a faith in the new players he has signed. But at the moment, everyone is deflated and downcast. We are thinking, where do we go from here? It shows in Mr Ecky’s thoughts. In our heart of hearts, we recognise that Bolton need two central defenders of quality and a goal-scorer up front who will hit the net regularly. Like you perhaps, I feel frustrated that we haven’t plugged those holes in pre-season, while now the club appears hamstrung in its attempts to find sufficient funds to remedy this. Perhaps, the loan system will come to our aid, before the window closes. If it doesn’t, then we may have to get used to our season being punctuated by results like last Saturday. But come next Saturday, we may all be smiling! Keep the faith!

  • I feel the pain Mr Ecky so eloquently discusses above. I am an optimist sometimes to the point of closing my eyes to the problems I can see as clear as day. But just now I am struggling. I, despite my fairly unwavering support of our captain am starting to question the thinking behind making him so. It does make it almost impossible to drop him. Whilst I still think there are few better in the air defensively that is not enough. Wheater appears to be a shadow of his former self and therein lies our first big problem. We need another central defender and I mean NEED. Secondly as I think Aussie Mike may have mentioned we cannot score!! Now I am really struggling with this, we have a great choice of midfield players who should be able to supply the ammunition and we have either at our disposal now, or have in our recent past had really good strikers and yet they seem to come to Bolton and forget where the goal is. Sordell is a case in point, then we have Craig Davies who whilst not the most prolific before joining has since gone downhill, SKD went the same way very quickly over the last 2 years of his time with us. Beckford, well who knows, but the signs are not promising. Eaves scored everywhere else he played albeit at a lower level but nothing for us. So could it be that the striker coaching needs looking at? There has to be something because otherwise it is a cruel coincidence. Finally, could it be that the lack of support is not only compounding the problems but creating some. As someone else pointed out the support at other grounds can be vociferous and we do not give our boys that backing at the Reebok. Maybe that is the root of what you are feeling, to me the disconnection between club and supporters is almost complete. This must addressed because players come and go but we as supporters don’t. We need to reclaim our club and push the players to work harder in our cause as the expectations are so low and supporter apathy so obvious it is worse than a team full of non achievers. This makes it so much easier for away teams visiting and home teams when we visit them. So I like you don’t know the answer but those are the facts as I see them.

  • I’m not quite old enough to vividly remember the pre-Allardyce era but i feel Mr Ecky’s pain, the Bolton i grew to love were lion-hearted and plucky and were a proper football club. Bolton today however seem distant ( weird i know ) and i feel i can no longer relate them to the Bolton of all. Of course it’s Bolton till i die and i’m a fan of Freedman, my hopes are that Freedman can kick this squad into gear and create a new aura that he’s built the foundations for with new tactics and youngsters like Odelusi and Hall getting chance . I’m sure this is just a faze, and me and other likeminded fans will feel close to Bolton once more. Hopefully the future essence will be that of familiarity and spirit. Lets start that against moneybags rangers on Saturday

  • Good article, shame to here this has happened to you man and you’re probably right, we shouldn’t be not surprised at losing 0-3 to teams like Forest…

  • Great article Mr Ecky and well put. I feel exactly the same only I was angry after the game on sat. We knew it was gonna happen. We walked into the city ground and the beginnings of a new season knowing if/when our centre backs were exploited we would get a thumping. You can’t have faith in knight to pull us up off the floor by the scruff of the neck, but who else ius their? Maybe a new comer as a captain isn’t such a bad idea. A different perspective from the recent failed past. I know it won’t happen. Like someone said earlier Knight as captain is un droppable almost to take it of him would highlight dougies bad judgement. Who is knights deputy in his absense? Wheater and knight need to be replaced.

  • Knight has been making errors for far too long now and despite being given every chance, enough is enough for me – Wheater just needs more game time. These things happen though, we beat Hull 4-1 and they still finished second. Lets also not forget the players we had missing – Eagles, Ngog, M Davies and obviously Holden – players that would improve any championship team. All in all im still optimistic – until full time on saturday that is!

  • So much negativity! How many times have you seen a team come back from going 1-0 away from home in the first two minutes? It’s happened, sure, but it’s rare. These things happen in football. Whether we get promoted this season or not isn’t down to anything other than the 46 results which constitute an entire season. It’s not down to how much connection you feel with the team during a period of transition (I notice you’ve managed to forget Roy McFarland and Sammy Lee), it’s not down to what happened away from home against perhaps the league’s biggest spenders before the transfer window shuts, it’s 8 months of sweat, blood and tears that constitute a season. And make no mistake, DF will not be in any way happy. People will be dropped from the team on Saturday. Every minute of the game will be analysed, players will be criticised, tactical failings will be addressed. You can’t expect a team to turn up every single game, sometimes you’re just not at the races. Would you normally expect Man Utd to lose 6-1 to Man City? Or Arsenal to lose 8-2 to Man Utd, or 3-1 to Aston Villa? Of course not, but results like that happen sometimes. And when it happens a lot of people think that the world has ended, but it hasn’t. Forest won’t get promoted this season – and feel free to pull me up on that one after 46 games. But not after 3.

  • Rob I take your point and in the most it’s quite right what your saying, it is early doors. The team and results can improve, but the bottom line is knight won’t he is **** and why he is in that defence he will be exploited at every opportunity by the opposing team. Harry Rednapp will be rubbing his hands together watching footage of that clown!

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