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Bolton Wanderers Formation and Tactics: Jimmy Phillips Dilemma

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Jimmy Phillips stuck with Owen Coyle's 4-4-2, starting two true wingers in Saturday's victory. Now he has to decide what to keep and what to change away from home against Wolves. This is a look at his options.

"Put me in Boss!!"
"Put me in Boss!!"
Chris Brunskill

New manager or not, this much is obvious in Lancashire; Bolton are at their best when they are getting the ball wide and attacking down the flanks. Not only is the squad best suited to that style of play overall, Bolton's largest combination of talent resides in their wide midfield ranks.

Jimmy Phillips and his merry band of managers (Sammy Lee, Julian Darby) have three basic options for the trip to Wolves:

Option 1: They can stick with the 4-4-2 formation, keep the same personnel or make minor changes, but basically go with what worked Saturday. Keep in mind, for all the excitement of the second half, this team did concede two early goals. I think there could be a change in the back four, particularly at fullback. Zat Knight and Marcos Alonso played in an U21 match against West Ham on Monday, so they would seem unlikely to feature on Tuesday. We could see Joe Riley get his first start of the season.

Beyond that, so matter which option Phillips chooses, I think Benik Afobe will be dropped to the bench. David Ngog has had several fitness issues this season, but if it's a 4-4-2 on Tuesday, he will probably partner Kevin Davies.

The other possible change in keeping the 4-4-2 would be a more conservative central midfield. That would mean giving Keith Andrews the start over Mark Davies.

Option 2: Change to a 4-5-1 formation for the away match, but keep the more or less the same squad. This is probably the most likely option. As I said above, dropping Afobe is a given, so Andrews would come in to form a three-man midfield with Jay Spearing and Mark Davies, leaving Martin Petrov and Chris Eagles on the wings pinging crosses in to Kevin Davies.

The problem with this is that it is a long season and we have seen very little squad rotation. I am a proponent of making sure everyone is well-rested, especially in the wildly congested three-matches-a-week world that is the Championship.

Option 3: Massive changes. On one hand the least likely of the three, on the other hand the most interesting. If Phillip chooses to do this, it would most likely feature a 4-3-3 formation and a lot of pace. Take a look;

Adam Bogdan

Riley, Mills, Ream, Stephen Warnock

Spearing, Andrews, Darren Pratley

Petrov, Marvin Sordell, Chung-Yong Lee

How much fun would that team be? It probably wouldn't solve our defensive problems, but every attack would be an orgy of pace and movement.

As I said, Option 3 (or a reasonable facsimile) is really not going to happen. Option 2 is probably most likely. But once again, in the new Bolton Wanderers Universe, the release of the team sheet is going to be a very exciting part of the day.