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Bolton Wanderers Home 16/3/13 – Briefing Notes
written by HarryfromBath Tuesday, 12th Mar 2013 17:49

HarryfromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Saturday's game by delving into their forums.

Chasing the Play-Offs

“For the moment, it is good to be a Wanderer”, “I remain optimistic”. With six straight wins and an eight-game unbeaten run, Bolton supporters are watching their team sprint into play-off contention.

They see a four-team mini-league, with two places at stake: “It will be down to us, Forest, Brighton and Leicester”, “Frankly the biggest annoyance is Forest’s run”.

However, some Wanderers feel that results have been better than performances: “I don’t want to piss on anyone’s chips, but we do need to play much better to have any chance of making the play-offs", We’ve won some marginal games that could have easily been drawn or lost. We’ve come out on the right side of the margins”.

About half of Bolton fans believe that they will make the top six: “We have nothing to lose now by going for it as I think we have enough points for genuine safety."

“The hope is going to kill me”, “Fight it. Fight the hope. You know it makes sense”, “C’mon guys. Pessimism. We need cynicism and negativity and we need it quick”. Another club and another group of nervous wrecks.

Dougie Freedman

“Freedman appears to be doing the kind of job most hoped he would do when he came in, and it is mirroring what he did at Palace. Better organisation and fitness plus a tighter less gung-ho approach”, “Tactics nailed on”, “Everyone knew their roles and stuck to it”.

“Really the management team now appear to be getting the best from what we have available, and you can’t ask much more than that”. They believe that the squad will need strengthening in the summer:“They are better organised I would say, more aware of what is required and seemingly having more belief. Largely though it is the same personnel with the same limitations."

“Palace fans told us that Freedman would defend leads rather than specifically look to extend them. It’s not great to watch but if it’s putting points on the board, we can’t really grumble”.

There is nervousness around Bolton’s defensive approach to games: “I think that we give the opposition too much respect at times and allow them to boss us around, which does not work.”

“The one major difference is that there is some fight in the lads again”. This tenacity was echoed several times: “These hard earned 1-0s remind me of the Big Sam days in a very good way", “Today we have the character, and crucially, the organisation to win”, “Defending a lead and doing that well is good football”.

A Note on Owen Coyle

“Coyle single-handedly dismantled the club. Not just results, but tactics, attitude and drive. It is difficult to actually believe it wasn’t deliberate, so fully did he achieve the task. He remained cocky, arrogant and full of himself right to the very end, oblivious to the devastation he created”. This savage assessment of Coyle is widely felt.

Comparing Coyle’s tactical acumen with Freedman’s, one Trotter said: “Against Brighton, {Freedman] changed the system, sticking Orlandi on the left as we were really narrow. He called Lennie [Lawrence] and Curtis [Fleming, his assistant manager and coach] off the bench for a proper get-together. We made two substitutions that won us the points.

“You would never have seen Coyle doing that. Not in a million years. Even if he did, his assistants would have started dribbling and putting cones around each other whilst clapping."

Defence

”Our defence is still worrying at times. I think we defend too deep and invite pressure”, “I can understand us defending deep when we are up against speedy forwards who are trying to get in behind. However, we go deep against pretty much everyone”.

“Defending so deep isn’t good for the heart. Against Brighton, at times it was like the Alamo in the second half”, “Is there any chance we could win without the hanging on for the last 20 minutes?” Freedman has a very defensive mentality, moving to a five-man defence by replacing striker David Ngog with David Wheater late in the game against Brighton.

Parking the bus was appreciated by some Wanderers: “We let Brighton play their football, but stopped them 25 yards out from really hurting us."

This line was picked up on by a number of supporters: “Our defending against set pieces was awful against Brighton. Only their woeful finishing gave us a clean sheet."

“Andy Lonergan seems more confident than Adam Bogdan and commands his back line”. Bogdan is injured, and has been replaced by the former Leeds and Preston goalkeeper. “Lonergan is up to it”, “He does what he needs to do”.

There were some minor criticisms of both: “Lonergan looked assured, but nearly scored an own goal by making a hash of a looping header that ended up hitting the bar”, “He needs to learn to kick with his right peg”, whereas “Bogdan continues to make too many basic errors”.

Real Madrid academy graduate Marcos Alonso plays at left-back. The 22-year-old scored the winner against Brighton. “Occasionally a little last-ditch defensively. He scored a good goal and is good going forwards”.

At right-back, Welsh international Sam Ricketts is less adventurous, having “another quietly effective game” against Brighton. The former Hull player is widely seen as a safe pair of hands.

“I sniff another Gary Cahill. He is easily our best signing of the season”, “A good defender. Confident ball winner”. Former Rochdale defender Craig Dawson is on loan from West Brom, and is a highly rated centre-back. “Although Cahill is a great defender, he will never be a leader or a player who can organise the backline, but Dawson is”.

Dawson is also dangerous going forward: “He is unusually good inside the opposing box. He has better movement there than anyone in our squad. Knight rarely scores whereas Dawson is a real goal threat”, “He pushes a defender in advance of the ball being kicked. Unlikely to be given as a foul and he is already off. Goal genius.”

“I personally can’t stand Zat Knight. He’s still and always will be a liability with a cocky, lazy mistake in almost every game”. The former Fulham and Villa central defender is seen as a weak link by many Trotters.

The 32-year old is seen as “a carthorse and he usually contributes in some way to most of the goals we let in”, “Knight has improved beside Dawson, but he is still prone to lazy decisions which can be costly”.

Midfield

“We are playing ‘narrow’ and have been since Dougie started playing his diamond system. In effect, we play three central midfielders and one ‘winger’. The ‘winger’ is on their wrong foot, so they come inside. This leaves room for full backs on the outside”, “I guess he prefers wide players cutting inside rather than your touchline hugging winger”.

“We can play two up front without being over-run in midfield, and it suits Darren Pratley who plays on the right of midfield, but essentially as a third central midfielder. The drawback, especially at home, is a lack of width.”

“He works like a terrier”. Jay Spearing is on loan from Liverpool. “He’s great as a battler. He is never going to be a playmaker or a creator or anything other than a solid and very hard working ball winner and tidier upper. When he tries anything over complicated his game falls apart”.

“Well done Darren, you have been instrumental in our revival”. Former Swansea midfielder Darren Pratley has flourished under Freedman. “He is a real workhorse these days. Puts the effort in, looks for the ball, runs forever and is probably the fittest player is the squad right now”.

“What he lacks in ability he makes up for in determination, adaptability and effort”, “He shares Dougie’s determination, adaptability and effort”, but some Trotters are harsh in their assessment of the player: “Not Premiership quality”, “He has a first touch like an elephant with trampolines on his feet”.

“Lee Chung Yong (LCY) was shocking” against Brighton. “He was absolutely wrecked towards the end of today’s game. His late fouls were the challenges of a man with nowt in the tank”, “Chungy was off the pace and not having a good day”.

”It depends on how LCY is feeling in terms of energy levels”. The South Korean international was seen as being tired after a run of midweek and weekend games. However, one Bolton fan noted he is “still not going for some tackles that he should be doing”.

“Dougie does not see LCY or Chris Eagles as wingers. They both need more free roles to really thrive”. Chris Eagles plays a similar role to LCY, “seeking to exploit space made by the strikers”.

As a former Burnley player, he is viewed with antipathy by many Wanderers. He sprinted Adebayor-style to Blackburn fans after scoring a 93rd minute winner in the derby game last Tuesday. “I don’t think Eagles has sprinted that fast in his whole time here” was one withering assessment.

Medo Kamara is not highly thought of. He came on as a containing replacement for Eagles on Saturday. “A big no-no at the moment”. The Sierra Leonean “looks like a beast”, “But he looks like a fairly small beast. Him and Spearing in the middle just begs for the ball over the top”.

Strikers

”The partnership of Ngog and Davies isn’t very clinical”. The strike partnership is subservient to the shape of the team. “Ngog and Keith Davies were missing something just behind the front line that neither Pratley nor Spearing could fill due to their defensive roles. Eagles and Chungy were coming in from wide to work that gap, leaving no options on the flanks”.

“Ngog got into decent positions and reverted to type. He couldn’t hit a cow’s arse”. The former Liverpool player is not highly thought of: “He plays well in the link role. He just isn’t great in the box.”

This criticism is mild compared to that given to Kevin Davies. “He has been great for us, but nothing lasts forever”. The captain is “hopeless and needs to be dropped. He has to go at the end of the season”.

“Don’t start Kevin Davies. It almost means automatically that Zat Knight hoofs the ball anywhere upfield”, “We lose momentum when it gets to him”. There were waves of this criticism, for example [against Brighton] “We’ll win this one if we don’t start KD”, “I won’t be happy with Davo playing”.

Trotters' Fans Views on ITFC and the Game

“This is just the type of game Wanderers almost always lose. We have string of outstanding results and fans becoming increasingly hopeful. Then comes the dreaded ‘winnable’ game against a crap team that will consolidate our recent performances and keep the momentum going. Then we go and lose it. It happens every time."

“Ipswich have only scored two goals in the last six, but crucially have only conceded in two of these games. Clearly they have a solid, organised defence. The pace of Ngog or LCY, and the ability of Eagles to find space gives us more options against them”.

“A draw would not be a total disaster”. Having won six on the bounce, Bolton supporters have thus far plumped heavily for a 1-1 draw, or Wanderers winning by the odd goal. “We need to prove we’re just as good away as we are at home”.

That Play-Off

This popped up on Sunday: “5-3 Ipswich. Magilton hat-trick. Too soon?”, “Can’t see it happening in 90 minutes though”, “Fair point. They are also ahead from the first leg”. I will update the forum with more Trotters views on Saturday. Expect more references to our epic 2000 play-off victory.

“1-0 to Ipswich, and an apology from Barry Knight, not for the refereeing disaster, but because Zat Knight is his love child”, “They are both keen on giving penalties and lacking in hair. A case is being built here”, “Yes. They both have done irreparable damage to Bolton Wanderers”.

Other Points

I found this: “I put Bolton to lose every game 9-0, Ipswich to win every game 9-0, and give 9-0 wins to the lower placed team in each game.

"Ipswich make the play-offs and beat Hull 9-0. Mick McCarthy is offered the freedom of Suffolk but politely refuses – ‘There nothing to see. No ‘ills or nowt’. Bolton Wanderers replace their manager with a postcode”. It is amazing what alcohol and a league predictor can achieve.

Websites

The best website I found was the-wanderer.co.uk and there was some additional feedback on bwfcforum.com and burndenaces.co.uk.







Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

warksonwater added 10:38 - Mar 15
'Cr*p' team, eh? If that doesn't motivate the lads to go out and wallop Bolton, nothing will!
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pazelle added 11:24 - Mar 15
I'm putting a fiver on 0-0 and a fiver on Tommy Smith to score anytime, but I'm not expecting any points from this one...

COYB!
0

JWM added 14:11 - Mar 15
I have watched that Semi Final second leg more times than I care to remember and the Referee got all 3 penalty decisions spot on. The last one where Johno was hauled to the ground is the most blatant you will ever see so why they moan about any of them is beyond me! I hate Bolton any way so I really hope that we double those northern t*@ts!
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