The international break is looking more like an emotional reprieve for Bolton fans as a loss at home to Chelsea caps off the worst start for the club since 1902. The next 15 games of that season brought 3 draws and 12 defeats. The Wanderers finished bottom and were relegated. While I don't think we're going to get relegated this season, there's no doubt that it's been a rough 6 weeks for Bolton fans, and today was no different.
It didn't take long. Just 93 seconds into the match, the familiar face of Daniel Sturridge easily escaped Steinsson to put his team up. It was going to be that kind of day. Describing Bolton as a "football team" would be generous for most of the first half. Chelsea had most of the possession and all of the convincing play. Frank Lampard put in a performance to silence the critics, starting his hat trick in the 15th minute, sending home a cross in from Sturridge. Sturridge and Lampard both scored another before the 30 minute mark, both goals that would have been saved by a better keeper. Bogdan is simply not ready for this level, and conceding 5 today will have done his confidence no good. Hopefully Jussi's knock is as minor as the club has made it out to be, although this raises the big question of what will be done when Jussi eventually has to retire*.
*Assuming he is actually human and will retire.
Whatever Coyle said at halftime must've worked, as Bolton started the second half looking a different team. Dedryck Boyata, who started the match in the center of defense, moved to rightback following the halftime substitution of Knight for Steinsson. Just 55 seconds after the restart, he rose up above blue shirts to send a Martin Petrov free kick home. This started a spell of much better play from the home side, and overall the second 45 minutes would prove better viewing from a white perspective. Hopes of a comeback were dented when Lampard sent the ball through three defenders and past Bogdan to complete his hat trick, a nice cherry to top his 350th appearance for Chelsea. They were completely lost when Bolton came close twice more but failed to score. First a Kevin Davies chance was cleared off the line by Ivanovic, but there is a strong case to be made that it went over before the Serbian got to it. Not long after Chris Eagles was disappointed to see his shot pushed to the post by Cech. It was that kind of day.
There is no doubt that this is a team that's badly out of sorts. Owen Coyle and his merry band of white men are seriously struggling right now, and the worst part is that it's difficult to put your finger on what exactly the problem is. Luckily, Coyle now has 2 weeks to figure that out, and communicate that to his players. This run has been his toughest test as Bolton manager, but the next 3 games (Wigan, Sunderland, and Swansea) are going to be tougher because he needs to get results from them.