Date: 8th August 2014 at 5:55pm
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Before signing on a season long loan with Blackburn, things didn’t seem to be going well for Baptiste.

When he was first mentioned as a possible future Bolton player, I was pretty happy. He had a good reputation at Blackpool, and fans were sad to see their captain leave. He had played in the Premier League- to my memory mainly as a centre back, and looked slightly out of his depth (but no more so than the rest of their squad bar Charlie Adam.)

During last season, he played mainly as a fullback although he admittedly would have preferred to play in his natural position. He certainly looks more like a fullback, he’s relatively tall but he’s no Zat Knight and he’s quick enough, too. During the earlier stages of the season (while he played at right back) he looked, to me, like one of our better players. His goals helped us through some very rough times.

Marc Tierney’s long term injury freeing up the spot at left back wasn’t much help for the former Mansfield man. Soon, Kevin McNaughton was brought in- and made the right back spot his own and Baptiste found himself playing in an even more uncomfortable position at left back.

Here, Baptiste struggled and towards the back end of the season picked up an awful habit- giving away penalties. Left footed centre back, Tim Ream was drafted into the left back spot and in the last few matches youngsters Oscar Threlkeld or Hayden White played at right back. At points it looked like Dougie Freedman was doing everything in his power to make sure Baptiste didn’t play.

A particularly low point for me was when Alex Baptiste brought down a Barnsley man, I think it was Chris O’Grady, in the penalty area. As soon as he saw this Baptiste was ushered off the field. This was not because he was sent off, but because Dougie Freedman appeared to have lost so much faith in his own signing and replaced him with Zat Knight. That’s when he hit an all time low.

I found myself wondering why Dougie Freedman didn’t just buy a right back at the very beginning of the transfer window. People say, Baptiste was an ideal signing because of his versatility. Well, there’s no point in having someone who can play all over the pitch if he can’t play well in the position he’s playing in. Surely for that reason, I’d be happy to play anywhere for Bolton- it doesn’t mean I’d necessarily do a good job.

Alex Baptiste is a good footballer- he’s quick enough, strong enough and very good on the ball for a Championship defender. I feel that he at least should have been given a chance to play in his preferred position at centre back regularly before signing Dorian Dervite who’ll probably assume the position of our ‘technically gifted centre back’.

Following the signing of Kevin McNaughton, Baptiste was told that he’s surplus to requirements for the time being and to his credit agreed to go out on loan to get some playing time.

I think, should he be utilised correctly by Blackburn, he’ll be a success this season and may well come back to haunt us.

 

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