Date: 6th January 2011 at 6:35pm
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For the fifty nine of you that have been following me on Twitter (@QuentinX), you will know that while this game was on, I was on various motorways between London and Manchester.

Leaving E3 at 20:00, I was going at a steady 70-80mph up the M1, listening patiently for the report from the Reebok. And waiting. And then waited some more. Goals were flying in left, right and at Ewood Park, but nothing was coming from Burnden Way.

Fifteen minutes in and a first report. Nothing happening. I had to wait another twenty minutes before another visit, Rodallega warming Jussi’s hands. Then, a quick visit at half time for some condescending – ‘The local BBC man turned to me and said I should be glad I didn’t have to watch this every week.’ (I take it he was from BBC Wigan) – and then nothing until Rodrigo scored – ‘Well taken’ -, Kirkland and Elmander collided – ‘Nasty’, Kirkland was carried off – ‘Our thoughts are with him and his family'(?), Stam equalised – ‘Wonderful interplay’, and the final whistle with more condescending.

That is eight visits during the game. While this may say something about 5 Live’s attitude to Bolton and Wigan, and, to be fair, there was a lot more excitement going on elsewhere, as far as I can make out from message boards, this was a pretty putrid game, with Fabrice Muamba in particular taking a lot of flack.

After the Liverpool game, I said that it wasn’t about games against (former) Big Four teams that our season would be determined, it would be against teams like Wigan.

And now we see how our season will be determined.

There was a certain amount of gushiness over Christmas and New Year about how we had played Chelsea and Liverpool so close. After last night’s results, indeed after the Christmas period results for these two teams, it seems that instead of gushing, we should have worried. If you couple those results onto nearly failing to kill off a downward looking West Brom team and an even worse Wigan side, the festive fixtures have been an opportunity missed.

There are a few reasons for this. Bolton ‘playing football’ at the beginning of the season was a breath of fresh air, and took people by surprise. There is no longer the surprise in Bolton playing football along the floor and teams are starting to wise up to it.

Secondly, they are starting to look tired. Lack of back up, as evidenced by the numbers on the bench over the last few games, means that some players have played more games than those they are coming up against. That the club gave the juniors time off to eat extra turkey and pud may have missed a trick, but the likes of Eaves and the EastEnders loving Oluwasanmi Odelusi wasn’t exactly going to have the likes of Terry and Agger running scared and the best they could have hoped for would be a quick run out at the end.

Third, Mark Davies is not Stuart Holden. He may be naturally talented, but it showed in the game against Blackburn that Holden’s best partner is Muamba. And last night it showed that Muamba’s best partner is Holden.

Fourth, Johan Elmander is now going through a goal drought. Even with his rebound shot against West Brom, he has now only scored once in eight games. We knew that he would go through a stage of barrenness, but now is the time to get his shooting boots on and I would like to see him and Klasnic starting against York on Saturday. If Klasnic had been available last night, you get the feeling one of those injury time chances that I’ve heard of would have nestled in the net.

Fifth, it should have finally got into Martin Petrov’s brain that just because you are the ‘second best Bosman of the summer’ it doesn’t guarantee you a game. Matty Taylor has performed admirably, but if you are looking for a creator of chances, as evidenced last night, Petrov is your man.

Don’t get me wrong. I am still floating on air that we are seventh and know that we aren’t going to get pulled into any relegation dog fight. It is now for St Owen to pull out the same stops as he did last January and do some miracle working in the transfer market. While my own belief is that Carlos Vela may be this years Vladimir Weiss, there certainly seems to be a lot of interest in him.

All in all, there needs to be some work done to get the season back on track. At the beginning of the season I would have been happy with tenth, now that would be disappointing. The next league game doesn’t make it any easier, away at Stoke, but there is always the Chelsea game the following week.

 

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