|Ipswich Town 0 v 0 Bolton Wanderers|
Saturday, 22nd September 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Ipswich Haven’t Won a Game All Season. We All Know What’s Coming - Notes for Bolton
Friday, 21st Sep 2018 10:45 by HarryFromBath
HarryFromBath assesses the mood in the opposition camp ahead of Saturday’s game at Portman Road by delving into their forums.
“We need to get back to how we were at the start of the season, and quickly”, “As lovely as our start was, I expect us to get a relegation-avoiding points total and build from there, if possible”, “After a good early points tally, Saturday against Ipswich is an acid test of where we really are in the league.”
“We have picked up just one point in 12. Where is the next one coming?” Wanderers travel down to Suffolk sitting comfortably in 15th place in the table. But with 10 of their 11 points having come in a blistering start which saw them win three of their opening four games, fans have become increasingly anxious.
“We have gone from looking fairly solid and a bit of a threat up front to looking like we will always concede one while being unable to take our chances. It’s not a great recipe for success”, “I still think we will be okay but reality is setting in fast”, “Our brilliant start has well and truly petered out.”
“There is a definite improvement in the way we are trying to play compared to last year. The results have improved”, “Overall the manager and players are giving us the fight, passion and desire to grind out results”, “We have a team pulling in the same direction and showing some pride in the club.”
“We are having a terrible time off the pitch. We were threatened with administration over a £4 million debt we had known about for over a year. Then we lost club legend Eddie Davies [former owner who died last week] and found out that [29-year-old right-back] Stephen Darby has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.”
“Phil Parkinson is the best thing about our football club. Compare him to ‘footballing’ managers like Owen Coyle and Neil Lennon and how they did here”, “He knows that it’s a results business and he’s entitled to deploy whatever methods and style of play he reckons will get him the results he needs.”
The Chorley-born 50-year-old replaced Neil Lennon as manager in June 2016 after previously being in charge Bradford City. He guided the Trotters to promotion from League One in his first season in charge and avoided relegation last season despite picking up a mere five points in his first 12 games.
“Our style of play isn’t pretty at times but it’s becoming more effective”, “He can be criticised for our style of play but not for managing to get these waifs and strays to fight and battle for the cause and to show pride in our shirt”, “He strengthened the team since promotion with little money to spend.”
“I said it before and I will say it again, Phil needs an attacking coach to help him with that side of his game”, “His negative mindset has to change. He must take the players’ shackles off and stop being so defensive. Most of all, he has got to stop being obsessed with nullifying the opposition all the time.”
“Phil, you don’t lose points at football. You just don’t get any if you lose. Attack man!” Fans criticised him for playing a very cautious line-up in Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at Middlesbrough. “If he would let us attack teams from the start we would probably be okay but we sit back and give them the initiative.”
A Hard-Working Football Team
“We look good when we attack and genuinely give teams something to worry about. When we sit back we look poor and come away with nothing anyway”, “The reason we have won two games away from home has been our system of playing a hard-working frontman and two proper wingers.”
Parkinson’s team has been built on a foundation of industrious hard work from a close-knit team. He has relied on experienced stalwarts throughout the side with a smaller number of players who have less Championship experience. Early successes on the road have come from playing on the counter.
“Why do our centre-backs launch the ball for no reason.” Fans will happily admit that they are not the most technically adept side in the league. “The second half of the season might see us having the confidence to keep hold of the ball a bit more and try to play our way through to making chances.”
“Nobody can defend that team tonight.” Parkinson’s starting XI at the Riverside (above) incurred the wrath of many travelling fans on Wednesday night. He changed formation to a back five to try and frustrate the hosts, with only one striker supported by the running of central midfielder Josh Vela.
“I have never seen a 5-4-1 with four central midfielders before in my life. It’s as if Parkinson read all the criticism after the QPR defeat last Saturday and went out of his way to set up a team even more negatively”, “If you attack a team, you spend less time defending. That display was unacceptable.”
“It’s hard to argue with that line-up, let’s hope it performs.” The starting XI for last Saturday’s home defeat to QPR (above) was set out in the 4-2-3-1 shape which has been frequently used this season. Many fans expect to see the side revert to this shape on Saturday, albeit it with personnel changes.
“We are still very susceptible to teams that can break at pace as we lack it in our backline.” Keeper Ben Alnwick and centre-backs David Wheater and Mark Beevers form an experienced base for the Wanderers defence, although the centre-halves’ lack of pace have forced the team to drop deeper.
Right-back Pawel Olkowski has made a superb start since arriving this summer from FC Koln, but fans are more concerned with their left-back position, where the erratic defending of Jonathan Grounds and the defensive playing style of Andrew Taylor leave both of them vulnerable to being targeted
“We have our midfield”, “The midfield three of Gary O’Neil, Jason Lowe and Joe Williams are largely superb.” O’Neil and Lowe are seen as experienced hard workers who balance their midfield, while newly-arrived Everton loanee Joe Williams has added a combative edge driving the team forward.
“Parkinson has done well rebuilding the midfield.” Bolton’s central midfield has strength in depth, but the loss of right winger Sammy Ameobi against QPR is a huge blow. “We are better placed to cope with injuries than last season, but the loss of Ameobi with an ankle injury will affect us badly.”
Sammy Ameobi (Bolton)
“Our wingers need to do more and get to the byline to get crosses in. We also don’t double up on opposition full-backs”, “The left side looks like a problem position. Will Buckley has been poor when he has started while Yanic Wildschut has been inconsistent and Craig Noone has been ineffective.”
“We’re a hamstring injury from being down to the bare bones up front.” Josh Magennis is the side’s leading striker and he is praised for his industry leading the line. Veteran Clayton Donaldson is seen as a bench option to see out games while League Two arrival Christian Doidge is a work in progress.
Middlesbrough 2 – 0 Bolton
“We got what we deserved tonight. That was awful, there’s nothing positive to say”, “We got it so wrong tonight, it was a dreadful performance. The respect we showed a poor Boro team was almost embarrassing”, “Did Parkinson chuck this one with an eye on Ipswich on Saturday and three points?”
In a predictably dull game, George Saville took full advantage of Gary O'Neil's sloppy back pass on 34 minutes to give Boro the lead. Britt Assombalonga wrapped up the points deep in stoppage time to give the Teessiders a win which also kept their record of not yet conceding a home league goal this season.
“Boro are a decent side but playing awfully they still beat us at a canter”, “You can’t play negatively and gift goals that easily”, “We were absolutely terrible to watch. We offered virtually nothing all game and it’s only when you see us for a full 90 minutes that you realise just how limited we are.”
Bolton 1 – 2 QPR
“That was utterly shocking. We can’t keep giving teams a 2-0 head start and expect to get something from it”, “We played a lot better with the ball but there was not enough urgency about is. QPR broke quickly to score where we in contrast were so static in possession”, “QPR did a number on us today.”
Luke Freeman put QPR ahead on 26 after a brilliant pull-back by Nahki Wells and he then turned provider for Eberechi Eze to score from 12 yards on 56. Substitute Magennis scored for Bolton on 69 with a 20-yard freekick, but it was not enough despite Wanderers dominating the closing stages.
“QPR’S forward line was miles ahead of ours in quality, experience and cost. Their manager Steve McClaren is not the clown he’s made out to be”, “As for QPR, that’s a different side to the one which got battered at the start of the season. They have strengthened well with Premier League loanees.”
Preston 2 – 2 Bolton
“That was one of the most exciting and absorbing matches I have seen in years”, “I feared the worst at 2-0 down but we fought our way to a draw”, “We deserved a point today. Preston had plenty of the ball but didn’t use it”, “2-0 down, back to 2-2 and a 22-man brawl at the end. Bloody fantastic.”
“A good day out not spoiled by the football, it was a fair result in the end.” Wanderers came from 2-0 down to rescue a draw in an eventful Lancashire derby. Callum Robinson opened the scoring for the hosts on 11 before Alan Browne's stunning volley doubled the hosts' lead five minutes later.
Sammy Ameobi halved the deficit on 38 and two minutes later Pawel Olkowski levelled for the away side, hammering the ball in off the underside of the bar. After the full-time whistle Preston's Ben Pearson was given a straight red card after a clash with Bolton's Joe Williams, who was cautioned.
“The next time you get the ole ‘one-dimensional Parky’ posts, this game can be cited as a counter to that”, “The late argy-bargy showed we have a group who won’t be bullied”, “Preston played into our hands by going wide and crossing instead of playing through us”, “We are better away from home.”
Goalkeepers and Defenders
“Ben Alnwick has the occasional poor game but he has made a string of consistently excellent saves. He’s not the best in the league but he has certainly kept us in so many games.” The 31-year-old ex-Peterborough keeper “is very composed. We would have been relegated without him last season.”
Ben Alnwick (Bolton)
“Alnwick ends up lumping the ball 80 yards up the pitch”, “Surely he doesn’t do drill after drill of launching it as far as he possibly can, yet that’s all he does”, “He flaps at crosses and freekicks now and then and makes the odd fumble but he will do for me. Some of his saves have been incredible.”
“Pawel Olkowski stands out an absolute mile in our team. It’s like playing on the park and a bigger kid four years older decides he wants a game. He’s just as class above.” The 28-year-old right-back and Poland international arrived from FC Koln in July. “He is confident, composed and quick.”
“I said to my dad that Olkowski will be a fan favourite in no time”, “He’s proving to be he classiest right-back we have seen at our place in a generation”, “He knows how to deal with quick wingers. He is fairly quick, very strong in the tackle and good in the air. How we picked him up I will never know.”
“Can someone teach Jonathan Grounds the basic principles of defending?” The 30-year-old left-back is on a season-long loan from Birmingham. “The first QPR goal was down to his poor positioning. He gets drawn in to the centre”, “He should go back to his old job of standing in a field scaring birds.”
“Grounds is a composed player and a good passer of the ball. He is calm under pressure and won’t overlap his winger but is a threat in the air at corners”, “He can’t be described as a left-back because he’s never there. He gives teams space to attack, makes poor decisions and is weak in the tackle.”
“I agree with Andrew Taylor coming back at left-back He gives us more stability.” The 32-year-old ex-Wigan man missed the last two games with injury. “Defensively he is spot on, although he can’t play the ball forward consistently well and we lose a lot of possession that way. He’s a trier and grafter.”
“If you want a pure defender at left-back, Taylor is as good as they come but his crossing and general attacking play is really weak”, “He has little pace as an attacking outlet and can’t overlap his winger”, “He isn’t an exceptional athlete, but he’s a dependable player who struggles against genuine pace.”
Wilson celebrating scoring v Town
“Marc Wilson may be a better option at centre-back because of his passing.” The 31-year-old former Sunderland man “looks really good passing the ball out from the back whether long or short. I’m not sure if he will add any pace but he’s a good player”, “A class above our other defenders on the ball.”
“I don’t understand why Mark Beevers is an automatic pick for the back four. He’s a decent League One centre-back whose lack of acceleration is a real issue.” The 28-year-old ex-Millwall man “is the one defender we have who is in a constant flap with the ball at his feet, often conceding corners”.
Mark Beevers (Millwall)
“Beevers has played okay for the most part. He’s defensively strong, making great blocks and tackles but he dropped some clangers”, “He can’t play the ball forward reliably and we lose possession that way. He has always been terrified of pace getting in behind him and he will instinctively drop back.”
“David Wheater usually retreats when the opposition put a quick striker on.” The 31-year-old former Boro centre-half “is a wholehearted player but he is slow and will be exposed by pace”, “I do like him and he can defend all day long, but at times he’s often found five yards behind the other defenders.”
David Wheater (Bolton Wanderers)
“Wheater is a decent defender with limitations. He gets his crucial challenges and headers in but he can get burned by striker who leaving him looking like a statue”, “His presence in the penalty area gives our attacking players the space to take their chances when we have corners and freekicks.”
“Josh Vela runs around tirelessly.” The 24-year-old youth product “is leading by example this season with his work rate”, “He runs all day. That’s his thing and we need it because we’re neither have a big or physically powerful midfield. He constantly puts in the yards, trying to makes things happen.”
“Vela still isn’t making goalscoring runs. He will run like Forrest Gump and never needs substituting, but he doesn’t have enough creative nous”, “He gets through the graft so it’s hard to criticise him, but he’s not an all-round midfield player. He’s a Premier League athlete who has League One skills.”
“Luke Murphy has been anonymous in games although this could be due to doing the dirty midfield work.” The 28-year-old ex-Leeds man “doesn’t look fully fit and can’t pass or shoot. He is not the most naturally athletic but I hope his half-a-step slowness is down to a lack of match sharpness.”
Tom Lawrence v Luke Murphy (Burton Albion)
“Erhun Otzumer is a good footballer but not an immediate starter.” The 27-year-old June acquisition from Walsall “might help win some tight games unlocking deeper-lying defences. He’s different to our other midfielders and might be the key to improving our wingers with his clever link-up passing.”
“Otzumer might become a focal point as the season progresses but it’s a big ask to go from Walsall to the Championship and play such a pivotal role under pressure. So far, he’s a bit off doing that”, “His clever runs, neat touches and passes have given us a glimpse of the real quality he possesses.”
“Joe Williams adds another dimension to our midfield.” The 21-year-old Everton loan signing “has it all, including disrupting and bullying. He gets into the opposition’s heads from the kick-off. He drives the team on and implores team-mates to push on. He has quality on the ball and passing ability too.”
“I can see Williams being a Robbie Savage type of player”, “He looks good but he could get mixed up in confrontations regularly. I can see him getting a lot of opponents sent off”, “He sounds the part but might get a reputation”, “We have missed a right horrible footballer in the middle of the park.”
“Gary O’Neil is a player who fills the gaps, he’s the glue that binds our midfield.” The 35-year-old ex-Bristol City and Norwich man “is not the most powerful midfielder, more a constructor than a player who will break things up”, “He runs his socks off, covering every blade of grass for a full 90 minutes.”
Gary O'Neil (QPR)
“O’Neil has a daft moment or two in every game and he gifted Boro their opening goal with a poor back pass”, “He has been pretty decent more often than not to be fair. He breaks up play well and has a calm head on his shoulders”, “A solid presence and not afraid to take a cynical yellow card.”
“Jason Lowe won’t unlock any doors going forward but he’s fine on the ball and he uses his mobility to hold on to it well under pressure.” The 27-year-old ex-Birmingham man “breaks up many attacks making countless interceptions”, “Our deep formation suits him as he sits and waits to intercept.”
“Lowe has the first touch of a Conference player and isn’t a natural at picking a forward pass”, “He doesn’t have quality on the ball but he is a leader and worth an extra midfielder with his work rate”, “His tough, timely challenges for the ball along with his positioning make us so hard to break down.”
“Will Buckley’s a good back-up option. When other wingers get into the final third you get excited. When he does you’re relieved if he can fluke a corner.” The 28-year-old ex-Brighton and Sunderland left-winger “works hard, but he doesn’t have the engine to last one half, let alone two nowadays.”
“Craig Noone is a good player to have around but he has hardly scored or assisted in his time with us.” The 30-year-old ex-Cardiff right winger “is okay, but he can’t play football if any opponent is within six yards of him”, “He has energy, which will often go haring off in the wrong direction.”
Craig Noone (Bolton) v Arthur Masuaku (West Ham)
“Noone is quick thinking, good on his feet and determined when he plays well”, “His energy and desire are always on show but he has no end product”, “He’s immensely frustrating. He’s talented for sure but it’s just not happening”, “I would like him to do something in a Bolton shirt for once.”
“Wildschut’s marauding and dribbling gives opponents something to think about.” The 26-year-old loan signing from Norwich “is low on confidence. His pace is an asset but he can’t be carried”, “He’s a flaky winger who makes clever runs that no one else sees but his decision-making can be very poor.”
Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers) v Yanic Wildschut (Cardiff City)
“If we are to get more out of Yanic, we need to find a way of playing passes for him to attack. He’s often caught up in tight spaces on the halfway line with three opponents around him”, “He has pace but his touch and control often let him down”, “He gives us a unique threat but can be infuriating.”
“Clayton Donaldson is still a decent Championship striker in terms of ability.” The 34-year-old ex-Birmingham and Sheffield United man “has decent pace and ability when he gets the ball and has a good scoring record at this level”, “He looks a handful and will be able to help us close games out.”
Adam Webster and Clayton Donaldson
“Donaldson isn’t really a target man but he’s able to play in behind defences off the shoulder”, “He’s a veteran who can do a great job coming off the bench. He can get around his defender and is pretty good in the air. He’s an athletic striker with good close control who will cause defenders problems.”
“Christian Doidge seems to have a bit of quality with his feet and good movement but he seems a bit lightweight.” The 26-year-old loan arrival from Forest Green Rovers made his debut against QPR last Saturday. “He looks promising and has lots of good movement but he’s probably not quite ready.”
“I felt sorry for Magennis at Boro. He was 40 yards from his nearest team-mate.” The 28-year-old July arrival from Charlton “wins lots of headers, battles away and encourages others at set-pieces. He’s not a big lump. He’s quick, mobile and works incredibly hard, winning most of his headers.”
Ryan Shotton (Middlesbrough) v Josh Magennis (Bolton Wanderers)
“Magennis is not the most skilful but we need his muscle”, “He’s a decent all-round player. The lad never stops running and has pace which gets us out of trouble. He’s not as good in the air with his back to goal or as strong as Gary Madine was, but his mobility is useful and he fits our system well.”
Trotters’ Views on ITFC and the Game
“I would fancy us to beat Ipswich away from home. But for two schoolboy errors at Boro we would have got something comfortably from that game”, “They're bottom of the league. We surely can't make excuses here?”, Ipswich should be there for the taking”, “This really is a must-win game.”
Bolton fans are pretty optimistic about their prospects on Saturday with much of this coming from a strong away record so far this season. Their more pessimistic fans point to their poor recent record at Portman Road while others are wary after seeing us giving Brentford a tough game on Tuesday.
Skuse celebrates scoring v Bolton
“When is the next point coming? Ipswich always beat us at their place”, “I'd happily take a draw to steady the ship as our recent record there is terrible” “They held Brentford last night so I won't be holding my breath”, If Ipswich can get something from Brentford, they are better than I thought.”
Some Trotters are quite fatalistic about their chances. “Ipswich, have you not won yet? No problem, Bolton are in town. Your helpful Championship colleagues will roll over in your hour of need. I would put serious cash on you breaking your duck this weekend”, “Lump on Ipswich. That’s all I say.”
There are two active Bolton message boards. The Wanderer and Wanderers Ways both have well-informed and knowledgeable contributors and discussions. Bolton Wanderers highlights are available on the Multimedia menu as well as Ipswich Town and for the whole of the Championship and other EFL leagues.
Photo: Action Images
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