After three games with Jimmy Phillips, Sammy Lee, and Julian Darby leading Bolton Wanderers, the team is four points better off but sat in the same (dire) league position. While the 1.33 points per game average in that short stretch is still well below the two points-per-game average that Bolton so desperately need, Phillips' time as Bolton manager was far from bad. Despite still being in 18th place, we managed to take a number of positives from those three games.
1. Bolton Wanderers are a team that can play football in the second half
Under Owen Coyle, if Bolton went into the halftime break with a lead, they would certainly give it up and either draw or lose. There was something about the way the team was handled at halftime that would mean that the squad emerging from the break would more often than not be awful. With Phillips in Charge, Bolton Wanderers came out of the break firing on all cylinders on two out of three occasions, rescuing four points from losing positions.
2. Chung-Yong Lee is on his way back
Chungy's appearances under Owen Coyle were few and far between. In those short stints, he looked a shadow of the pacy, tricky winger that stormed the Premier League between 2009 and 2011. He certainly didn't look like recovering from the leg break that saw him sit out the majority of last season. He was given chances under Jimmy Phillips and made the most of them, looking like his old self. Setting up the game winner against Bristol City and opening the scoring against Middlesbrough, Chungy is well on his way back.
3. Mark Davies can play well for Bolton in the Championship
Who would have thought that all it would take for Mark Davies to find form was being played in his natural position? It seems like a no-brainer but Owen Coyle, for whatever reason, insisted on playing the central midfielder all the way on the right. In the last three games, Mark Davies has been in the middle and been mostly good with the late equalizer against Wolves the centerpiece of his performances.
4. The defense is still crap
Dougie Freedman has got to give these boys a good kick. Bolton's defense allowed two goals in each of Phillips' three games with all of them being relatively soft. Wolves and Middlesbrough cut the Bolton back four apart and it often led to one-on-one situations where Adam Bogdan was helpless.
5. Martin Petrov is not a lost cause
A winger on the outs with Owen Coyle? You don't say. For some reason (rumored to be a training ground falling out), Martin Petrov was sat on the bench for pretty much all of this season under Owen Coyle. Under Jimmy Phillips, he looked strong, whipping in crosses and testing the goalkeeper. It was his game-winner against Bristol City, a cool, bending finish that was the highlight.
Dougie Freedman has a lot of work to do with Bolton Wanderers ahead of next weekend's match against top-of-the-table Cardiff City, who are 13 points clear of Bolton. Jimmy Phillips started building the foundations for a successful side and Dougie Freedman has to continue that work in order to see Bolton rise up the table.