With two wins, and eight losses Bolton and Owen Coyle’s plan for the season doesn’t seem to be going to plan.
First of all, our primary objective would have been to avoid relegation, as it should be for a team of our stature every year. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see us in a relegation scrap come the end of the season, but it’s something the smaller club fans have to face. Last year, we were 5 points better off at the same point of the season, which doesn’t seem that much to the Chelsea and United fans but to us, this year, it would mean 13/14th place in the table, which is a lot more reassuring.
Owen Coyle has taken a lot of stick this year, and I can understand where some fans are coming from. The fans that ask reasonable questions like; why isn’t Mark Davies getting a run out? Is Gardner really a left back now? Should we be playing with 2 up front? I like these kinds of questions, they are sensible questions and the answers would clear things up.
When fans are coming out with; Steinsson shouldn’t be a full back, Pratley’s no good and my personal favourite, ‘Super’ Kevin Davies has still got something to give – these short statements are ridiculous and I’ll explain each one.
Steinsson has had a tough year so far, after playing a steady game against QPR he was then faced with the task of trying to contain the likes of David Silva and Downing/Suarez. Any right back would struggle against these players and dropping him wouldn’t have done him any good. Now he’s coming back into the team due to an injury to a very good Boyata, and now he’s playing against the lesser wingers, I personally think he’ll be back to the rough and tumble player he is normally.
On the Pratley issue – yes, he didn’t have the best of games last time out. In fact, it’s the worse I’ve seen him play for a long while. Although, at the start of the season when he wasn’t getting games, people where calling for Coyle to make the change and bring him into the team, and on his first start against Norwich, he did a job, no better nor worse than any of our other midfielders throughout the season.
These kinds of fans only pop up once or twice, when they start chanting about a player before he comes on and does nothing. Mustapha Riga was the last time these people came out – I expect.
Finally, the Kevin Davies debate, it’s tough one for all Bolton fans because he’s our captain, and has a lead us through some tough times. However, I’d like to refer to Sir Alex Ferguson’s recent comments on Rio Ferdinand, where he has come out and said that he either changes his style of play to fit in with the ‘new United’ or he faces no longer being first team. I actually like this logic because if SKD can come out and be a totally different player who can touch the ball, pass and finish then he should be in the team.
Seeing as all he can do at the moment in run and give away fouls, why should he be in the team? He shouldn’t and the people that think he deserves to be because ‘he’s our captain’ ort to think about life in the Championship next year!
Back on subject with the bad run, yes, we’ve played the likes of Chelsea, United, Liverpool and City but last season, we got results from some of the them games and if not, we put in a good account of ourselves (most of the time), so I don’t think that should be an excuse for the way we are playing. At the same time, I don’t think Owen Coyle (OC) should be blamed either, even though he is accepting it.
The squad and starting 11’s that have been put out against Swansea, Norwich and Sunderland have all been teams that can win games, the formation isn’t too ambiguous and the new players such as N’gog, Pratley and Wheater should have had enough time to settle in. So I’m going to come out and blame the players, they need to pull their fingers out and show that they want to play for Bolton Wanderers Football Club, and not in the Championship next year.
Next up for us is Stoke at home, which could be a great game for the players that have been shying away to step up and be counted. Stoke will be playing in Europe on Thursday before our 3 o’clock game with them on the Sunday. Stoke have been guilty of having the classic ‘European hangover’ after every time they’ve played this year. This combined with them losing to in-form Newcastle at home seems to suggest they aren’t going to be in the best of form when they come to the Reebok.
This doesn’t mean they won’t give us a game, it’s Stoke, they have probably the most aggressive player in the Premier League in Johnny Walters (an ex-Bolton man himself) – along with others and they will want to show that they can play in Europe as well as doing well in the league. (They also have bragging rights due to the 5-0 drumming at Wembley, that I wasn’t going to mention.)
The team, eurgh. From the game against the Welsh, we are without Gardner because of his silly sending off which basically stopped us from getting anything from the game, so the obvious replacement for him would be Paul Robinson (lack of other options at the minute). Apart from that, I can’t see Coyle changing it too much, even though Pratley did have a bad game, will he change him? If he does, it should be a swap for Muamba which will then let Mark Davies play off the striker (where he is best) and let Reo and Muamba do the hard work in midfield, and with that team we are capable of beating Stoke.
If Jussi stays off his knees when the Delap throw’s come in and our players want to win and show the determination then we can do this!