5 Things: Bolton Wanderers v Blackburn

Matthew Lewis

What a fantastic feeling!

Well, what a win that was - loved every second of it.

I think LoV contributer Michael Murray put it best with this tweet:

He's absolutely right. It has been a tough season for Bolton Wanderers fans, but regardless of where we end up in the table, Saturday was a FANTASTIC day to be a Wanderer. Loved it.

1) Neil Danns

I must confess I got a bit carried away on Saturday - declaring my undying love for Neil Danns via twitter (I rarely follow back, though).

I have, since then, somewhat reflected on things and thought I would put my feelings down in a poem:

Neil Danns Neil Danns, with your lovely hair,

You're only here on loan, but I don't care,

You try so hard, you've got mad skillz,

To make me happy, to pay dem billz,

Neil Danns Neil Danns, on loan from Leicester,

Neil Danns Neil Danns, I think you're best-er (sorry),

You know Dougie well, he's managed you before,

This doesn't bother me, you get on well I'm sure,

Neil Danns Neil Danns, on the wing or the middle,

Neil Danns Neil Danns, I expect you're a dab hand on the fiddle,

I hope we sign you permanently, but only on a free,

Because we need to be aware of F.F.P.

Sorry about that.

I'm sure you all can agree that Neil Danns was fantastic at the weekend. I'd been surprised that Dougie Freedman had left him out of his first team of late, but the rest appeared to have done him the world of good as he was absolutely everywhere.

I was very impressed with how quick he is on the ball - probably faster than without it. I really hope we sign him when his Leicester contract ends, his energy and endeavour are impressive and he was a key reason behind our dominance of the midfield on Saturday against Blackburn Rovers.

2) Dropping Chris Eagles and Chung Yong Lee has benefitted us

Ordinarily, if anyone suggested that we dropped BOTH Chris Eagles and Chung Yong Lee from our first team then I would have said that you were mad.

We're not the most creative team in the world, and never have been, but the above two players are usually amongst those whom we look to for our midfield positivity and momentum.

Despite this, I think Dougie Freedman has been vindicated in his decision to drop them both from the side, with victories over Watford and Blackburn Rovers this weekend as direct proof.

The change in style and shape to a midfield without the two widemen has left the likes of Mark Davies to flourish. Mark Davies is clearly our best player, and the utter TERROR in the eyes of the Blackburn midfield whenever he got the ball at his feet bore witness to the increased freedom that the change of shape has allowed.

We need to make sure that our best players have the best chance possible to shine, and if that means doing something that on the surface of things feels counter-productive then so be it.

3) The Spine of the Team

It has taken until March for Jay Spearing to show the sort of performance that had every single Bolton Wanderers fan crying out for his return to the club following a successful loan spell last year.

Snappy in the tackle, and barring one or two minor errors his passing was much improved too. His goal was well-struck and was MILES over the line, despite the protestations of the assembled Blackburn losers in red.

It is vital for the club that our spine is strong. Now we have the improved form of goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, who has returned from injury seemingly stronger and more determined. We have the excellent David Wheater who himself has returned from a serious injury and is getting better every week.

Mark Davies, clearly the best player in our team is on form - he's one that I expect to have Premier League suitors in the summer. A vital player. Spearing, as mentioned before, seems to be on the way back and then there's Lukas Jutkiewicz who again was utterly dominant up front. He is proving to be an inspired loan signing by manager Dougie Freedman.

The cast of supporting actors were equally impressive. Spearing's midfield partner, Medo, was also excellent and provided a level of controlled aggression that their Blackburn counterparts simply could not deal with.

Also, and whisper this quietly, but Zat Knight was superb. He shackled Blackburn dangerman Jordan Rhodes and restricted him to one half-chance and a last-minute free kick in a superb display of defensive acumen.

Imagine that.

4) Late Run of Form....Timed Beautifully

Last season we won an impressive 34 points in the final three months of the league season, and this drove us from the depths of the lower-end of the Championship table to be within a hair of getting into the Play-Offs (still haven't forgiven you for that, Dougie).

This year, despite our fairly-disastrous form to date, we are a matter of 16 points from the Play-Offs. Now I'm trying not to get carried away and to say that we're going up, or anything like that, but this is a mad division and you just never know.

Teams at the lower end of the table can improve towards the end of the season.

For example, in those final three months of last season Cardiff City, the champions, earned 24 points, the same as Barnsley, and less than relegated Peterborough United. So it's not completely ridiculous to imagine that we could embark on a run of form that, whilst it might not be enough to get into the top six, but it might give us a more respectable league position at the end of the season.

Sixteen points is easily achievable, and I think we have to aim that high. I would write off Yeovil and Millwall as doomed, and so to keep our heads above water is going to be crucial. Leeds United and Derby County away are our next two fixtures, both incredibly tough games against in-form teams, but you never know.

The improvements of the last fortnight are hopefully not just a flash in the pan.

We've got tough games to come, both at home and away, but I am starting to feel that old familiar 'hope' in association with Bolton Wanderers, which is usually either a sign of imminent disaster or that things might be finally starting to click into place.

5) Fuckin' LOL

A picture says a thousand words. Four nil. Four nil. GET IN THERE YOU BEAUTIFUL SWINES!


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