Date: 26th January 2011 at 11:46am
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Panic on the streets of Bolton, I wonder to myself, could life ever be sane again?

Morning all. Today, as Nat is laid to rest, thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.

‘I was very fortunate and privileged to have met not just a footballing great but a terrific man, a very humble man. He will be sadly missed by everyone at the club and I suggest everyone in England. He was so patriotic about playing for his country. It is important that while there is a sadness we remember everything Nat Lofthouse did bring, not only to Bolton Wanderers but to football. I will always remember him with a smile on my face.’ Owen Coyle

So, having had a day to reflect on what can only be described as a very bad night on Monday, it seems that despondency has filled the air. DROP JUSSI. DROP SUPERKEV. SHOOT STEINSSON. BRING BACK AL-HABSI. BRING BACK SUPERJOHN. BRING BACK NEIL WHATMORE (AGAIN). SIGN SHAUN WRIGHT-PHILLIPS.

The SWP position is an interesting one. Undoubtedly as special player on his day, ever since Chelsea bought him from Citeh he hasn’t put in the performances and has now been told he can leave the Council House. Fulham may want him, as Mark Hughes goes about attempting to corral all his Citeh misfits back in the same place, but it appears that Citeh would prefer a fee rather than a loan deal.

Chung-Yong Lee will be back next week after his Asian Cup exploits conclude with the third place play off, and regardless of the fact that he will be returning to Benfica in the summer, Rodrigo has proved in snatches that he can play on that side too. So, again, we have no need of another right sided midfielder. If push comes to shove, jackofalltrades Sam Ricketts could be asked to play there, although that means the currently maligned Gretar Steinsson keeping his position at right back.

The general consensus is that playing Matty Taylor on the right side has not worked and if he has been pushed over there to facilitate Martin Petrov, who has flattered to deceive since joining in the summer, then that is a bad error on the managers part. Both Taylor and Petrov had poor games on Monday, but Taylor has proved more able on the left side than the Bulgarian and unless Carlos Vela can play on the left then that is what we are left with.

I disagree with some that say Taylor has had a poor season. He’s been played out of position a number of times and while his crosses don’t necessarily connect as much as Petrov’s do, Petrov hasn’t connected much either. He is better at tracking back than Petrov, who has been caught out a number of times this season when Paul Robinson has sauntered upfield, and doesn’t try and take the opposition on by himself. And he doesn’t wear a snood.

The manager has left no one in any doubt as to where he saw the blame lie for Monday night:

‘Didier Drogba`s was an unbelievable finish but it`s a poor touch from Gretar Steinsson. If you look at the second goal, we had opportunities to clear it from the corner and the third goal the skipper is under no pressure and he`s given it straight to them…..Their finishing was top class but there certainly wasn`t four goals between the two teams.’

He doesn’t say whether the difference should have been more or less than four goals. Chelsea didn’t even need to try on Monday and still won by four. If they had, you can only imagine what the score would have been. As it was they squandered at least four other chances to score.

Stuart Holden has spoken of the need to get a good result in the FA Cup:

‘We need to put things right and we need to do it soon. Nobody ever likes losing, especially at home. It`s now a massive cup tie against Wigan on Saturday. It`s important we pick ourselves up and go again. We have to get some momentum going.’

Wigan are in the middle of an appalling run and usually have Ali Al-Habsi to at least give them a chance. He will be missing on Saturday and there is every possibility that Martinez will put out a weakened team. If we are to get momentum going then this is the most opportune time to start. There is little doubt that Bogdan will come in for Jussi and Wheater for one of the central defensive duo, probably Cahill, but further changes need to be made. Rodrigo has to start on the right with Taylor switching to the left, Mark Davies to replace Muamba and Klasnic to come in for Elmander.

There have been calls for the captain to be dropped and, after his performance on Monday, you can understand why. However, I have said before that a captain gives you more than just how he plays with his feet and head and to drop him would have a massive psychological effect on the team. Kevin Davies is not Nat Lofthouse and has never pretended to be. He is, however, a leader in the same way that Nat was and no other team would sacrifice a captain because he is having a few bad games. How do you think we won the Ashes?

That we rely on him too heavily for the long ball is obvious, but have we all forgotten the roles he played in what have been our goals of the season so far? (Barring Elmander’s at Wolves, which he has been dining out on every since.) He can play the ball on the floor and it has been proved as such. He has little time left in his career and while I agree with robbwfc1958 that we won’t move forward until he leaves, this is a gradual process and has to be taken a step at a time. And Kevin Davies is currently part of a very important step, that we will now call the mid-table step. And thanks to Blackpool for blowing out of steam twenty minutes too early last night, meaning we are still tenth.

Now, if you’ve ever played Football Manager, and who hasn’t, you will know that a player has a list of favourite other players added to their profile, in a bit of an updated Q&A that they used to have in Shoot! And in both Kevin Nolan and Michael Ricketts profiles, they list each other. Whether this is true in real life is not known, but after Fat Boy’s run in with the Dibbles recently, Nolan has found himself up before the beak as well.

Not content with having accident-waiting-to-happen-oh-look-your-car’s-on-fire Andy Carroll as a recent lodger, Nobby has been caught doing twice the speed limit near Newcastle’s training ground. Having tried to get off with the old ‘the speed gun wasn’t working properly’ defence, even though sixty five other people were caught speeding on the same stretch on the same day with the same gun, he was told that he can expect a driving ban. Which means that he will have to get a lift off Carroll. As soon as the respray is done.

More tomorrow, when we report on Neil McNab being caught looking up women’s skirts. Until then.

 

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