There were (obviously exaggerated) that Bolton Wanderers trainings sessions consisted of ping pong and not much else. With the same issues happening week in and week as the team went through their Championship matches, it became increasingly clear that the training sessions were not addressing the issues on the field.
Since Owen Coyle's sacking by the club, the academy trio of Sammy Lee, Jimmy Phillips, and Julian Darby have taken the reins at first team training and according to captain Kevin Davies, things have not been better in a long time. The trio, all of which have been long-time employees of Bolton Wanderers to varying degrees, have implemented a set of modern training techniques that were apparently not utilized under Coyle.
Speaking to the Bolton News, Davies said:
"This hasn't been a case of them (Phillips and Co) coming in and saying ‘we'll put a few sessions on and keep you fit.' It has been everything. It has been bright and bubbly but most of all it has been intense.
"They have been with the club through the good and the bad. They know what works, what doesn't, and they are using that experience to help us get results."
Super Kev also effectively revealed that the management team is rebuilding the team's shape and instilling discipline in the side:
"We've generally gone out and played to our way. Sometimes it hasn't worked out and we've been criticised for not having a plan B, but they are working very hard on shape with the back four and midfield.
"We do need to be more solid, there haven't been enough clean sheets and that's down to everyone, the whole team. We need to improve."
Finally, Bolton are looking to make a return to playing the match by the numbers, utilizing performance data to improve the on-field showings. This was something that Sam Allardyce was a big fan of but really fell out of use during the reigns of Gary Megson and Owen Coyle. Davies went on to say that the team will attempt to use the analytics to better improve conditioning before and after matches:
"We've had a few conversations about what we do for recovery, because we've got quite a few games coming up in a short space of time. They've looked at all aspects of training - and we're in twice a day now.
"We do pre-hab in the gym in the mornings, and to be fair, the lads have always been quite good with that.
"They are looking at using Jimmy (Barrow) and Mike (Clitheroe) more and the science of it, trying to tailor it individually so that the training is all specific to what they feel each player needs."
This stuff all seems like it should have been used under Owen Coyle but clearly was not. These are changes that had to be made and begs the question of what the team were doing in training while Coyle was manager.