5 Things: Bolton v Blackpool

Paul Thomas

Well that was boring. Properly boring

Well that was properly dull. I know a win is a win, but Jesus Christ that was boring.

The season is petering out into a vague form of nothingness - we all know now that Bolton Wanderers are not going to be relegated from the Championship, and this feeling of ‘nothing to play for' is quite unusual, but that was a terrible, terrible football match played in a terrible, terrible atmosphere.

I almost wished I'd had stopped at home and watched the Manchester United v Manchester City game instead. In fact, what am I saying? I definitely wish I'd done that.

Anyway, here are five brain farts relating to the Blackpool game:

1) How many of these players will be here next season?

Let's look at it player-by-player. The season is disappearing into an apathetic nothingness, and this goes for both players and fans. Now, presuming that 10,000 of the fans will stay (maybe optimistic), who can we expect to see from those who played last night?

  • Adam Bogdan: See below, he ain't going nowhere
  • Alan Hutton: Will return to Aston Villa and then will sign for Glasgow Rangers in the summer before disappearing into nothingness
  • Zat Knight: New four year contract and a place in Roy Hodgson's England squad this summer. Or not
  • David Wheater: His chin will consume his face and he'll remain at Bolton Wanderers
  • Tim Ream: He'll finally take his mask off and move back to centre half
  • Neil Danns: I hope he'll stay. I love his energy and desire. I reckon he will stay
  • Medo Kamara: I think he'll stay as well. Primarily because nobody else will want him
  • Jay Spearing: We're stuck with him, precioussssss
  • Mark Davies: Our best and key player. We'll sell for £4m to Burnley
  • Joe Mason: Loaned to Bolton in perpetuity. Five goals a season, max
  • Lukas Jutkiewicz: Joins Bolton for £1m, becomes the new cult hero

2) Reflecting on Adam Bogdan's 100th game for Bolton

Our Hungarian goalkeeper has come a long way from the nervous kid who was thrown into a key game against Chelsea by manager Owen Coyle back in 2009. I say a long way, I mean about a two inch growth spurt in height, and the development into puberty that brought on a lovely beard.

Since his return from injury after Christmas he has been a man transformed, in my opinion. Previously he was a jittery and uneasy presence in the Wanderers nets, with suspect handling and an average-at-best command of his area. Such was his poor form that the fans were clamouring for Andy Lonergan to replace him - despite the evidence that Lonergan, for all his undoubted efforts - is no better (nor worse, actually) than Bogdan.

The form of the Preston-born keeper was fairly average in his time in the team, with obvious exceptions being the hammerings given to Bolton by Leicester and Reading, in which he was extremely poor, and was deservedly (in my opinion) dropped when Bogdan came fit.

So Bogdan has now played 100 games for Bolton Wanderers. I don't think there are many supporters who wouldn't mind seeing a new keeper come into the side, but then I look around the league and wonder who that keeper could be. The better keepers, obviously, play for the better teams. The likes of Kasper Schmeichel et al will be content at their clubs, and no doubt better paid, so perhaps it's even a bit pointless to even think about it.

Bogdan is a decent keeper, of that I think there is no doubt - I congratulate him on his 100th appearance for the club and I would not be surprised to see him start the new season between the sticks for Bolton Wanderers.

He was solid and competent during the win over Blackpool, barring one misunderstanding with Zat Knight - on whom more of which to follow.

He had one or two shots to save, nothing too hardcore, but was largely solid and this is all we can ask.

3) The two sides of Zat Knight

He is a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

Another dominant display from the ex-England central defender was somewhat marred by two horrendous mistakes. In the first half, he conspired to head onto his own post, causing confusion and mayhem in the massed ranks. The second half brought on a similar bout of uncertainty and, more importantly, a Blackpool counter-attack when Knight and Alan Hutton combined to leave the ball to one another. Fortunately for us, and this was a common thread throughout the evening, Blackpool were not good enough to take advantage.

Knight has been much-improved lately. Some would say that this is because when you're as bad as he normally is then any sort of improvement will be taken as a resurrection along Biblical lines. Others would say that Zat is basically a good defender - but obviously those people are absolutely insane and should be locked up.

His contract at Bolton Wanderers expires in the summer, and I would be amazed if he was re-signed. He is now 33 years old and will no doubt be earning a decent wedge. He has made nigh on 200 appearances for Bolton (fuck me!) and I think it's fair to say that for 195 of those appearances he has been a pretty poor signing. That said, experience counts for a lot, and he has been a calming presence of late, not to mention chipping in with a couple of goals.

Basically he's not very good, but then on the other side of the coin he was pretty damned solid last night, much as he has been in the last half dozen games. I appreciate he had nowt to worry about from a shocking Blackpool frontline, but still, what he had to do he did well.

4) The enigma that is Joe Mason

I'll put my cards on the table and say that I don't particularly rate Joe Mason. He was abysmal in his first loan spell from Cardiff City, though to his credit he began his second spell at Bolton with a flurry of goals and excellent performances.

However, games such as last night show the other side of Mason. The side that gets right on my tits.

Mason found himself in good positions on at least three occasions, and each time he made the wrong decision. Early in the first half he broke clear of his marker, and instead of heading for goal he, bizarrely, decided to turn around and try and re-beat the defender. Was absolutely baffling.

Then in the second half, when presented with a good chance from a Neil Danns pass, he again over-complicated matters and eventually lost the ball when in a good shooting position.

In his favour I do admire his willingness to put in the hard yards, and he appears to be a fairly selfless sort of footballer. However, as we have become accustomed to our centre-forwards showing a degree of wastefulness over the years so it seems again that we have a similar type on our hands.

He reminds me of David Ngog in many ways, and I do not know whether Mason will go on to remain at Bolton Wanderers after his loan expires, and to be honest I do not know if I really want him to.

I think he does well when partnered with (the again-excellent) Lukas Jutkiewicz, though Mason really does need to concentrate on being a forward and not being a support striker. I think he's much better when played alongside a partner such as Juke.

He remains a promising, if somewhat frustrating player.

5) Where do we go from here?

Christ knows.

As I mentioned earlier, the season is petering out into nothingness, with just the derby against Wigan Athletic really giving us much hope between now and the end of the season.

So where do we go from here?

One scenario is that we stick with Dougie Freedman and we endure another season of nothingness and apathy.

Or, we sack Dougie Freedman and bring in a new manager who will undoubtedly lead us to the Championship title, and then back into the Premier League where we belong, followed by top eight finishes and forays into the UEFA Cup, or whatever it's called these days. We'll sign players from established foreign nations, and we'll stop loaning players from Cardiff City and Aston Villa.

I personally prefer the second option.

However, what I think will happen is that we are stuck with Douglas for the foreseeable future.

The club have made their opposition to FFP perfectly clear, and, if rumours are to be believed, are amongst the clubs who have signed the solicitors letter establishing a legal challenge to the proposal. The adherence to the FFP regulations has, so far, caused us to stagnate and has meant that any signings have been on the cheap, Jay Spearing aside.

So going forward Bolton Wanderers are going to have to cut their cloth according to the results of the legal challenge to FFP, which could render the austerity of the last year to have been a complete waste of time, or it could prove to be a sensible adaptation to a changing sporting economic market.

If Dougie does stay, and oversees the changes in the squad that we all anticipate, I would like to see him give youth more of a chance. He came to the club with the reputation of being a big believer in promoting youngsters in the first team squad and giving them regular first team football to develop. We have seen little evidence of this since he came to Bolton.

I appreciate that the players have to be good enough, but I wouldn't mind the end of this season being a time to blood the likes of Cian Bolger, Connor Wilkinson, Chris Lester and Zac Clough. Then we can see whether these prospects sink or swim, with a view to next season and those beyond that.

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