It's no secret that home form will be very important this season. What was once known as Fortress Reebok can now be more accurately described as Leaky Ship Reebok, and abysmal home displays last season were certainly a large factor in relegation. In the 2010/11 season, Owen Coyle's first full season in charge, Botlon's home record was bettered only by the Big Four plus Manchester City. Coyle is now looking to recreate that. And so far this season, so good! Of course, Bolton have only played once at home
Coyle stressed this in his pre-match press conference,
"Home form is absolutely paramount in the Championship, there's no doubt about that... We want to get back to the Reebok being a fortress again. We've shown that can be the case against the best sides in the country in the Premier League, so we have to make sure we're ready to do that in the Championship. If we do that, then of course those valuable home points will go a long way to pushing you up towards the top end of the league which is where everyone wants to be."
Bolton's performance against Derby on Tuesday was by no means good enough, but there was a lot to build on. At times, the Trotters did look impressive, putting together fluent attacks and maintaining the possession they so missed last season. These periods were interspersed with the clueless Bolton fans are all too familiar with, and the team as a defensive unit has a lot to work on. It was by the grace of Adam Bogdan and a fair amount of luck that the Wanderers managed to keep their first clean sheet since February of this year. Still, part of being a good football team is being able to capitalise on luck like that, and get 3 points even when they don't deserve it. If Bolton can manage to keep doing that, this season will be a lot easier for everyone.
While I loath it so, Coyle will probably stick with the dreaded 4-4-2 for this match. He seems to be fairly enamored with that formation, and perhaps he does have a point with making a game plan and sticking with it even if it doesn't appear to work at first. It also must be said that it was a lot more effective last match than it has been in the past, and it could just be a matter of giving the players time to get used to each other.
Mark Davies, in spite of a terrible showing for himself at Turf Moor, did rather well last match, and will almost certainly get the start again tomorrow. If he and Keith Andrews can find that chemistry, they do have the makings of a good midfield pairing. Coyle has some very difficult choices to make on the wings, with 3 very talented players in the form of Chris Eagles, Martin Petrov, and Chung-Yong Lee. It will be interesting to see if Eagles can maintain his starting spot. He did put in an excellent performance against Derby County, but Petrov's skill is difficult to argue with.
Coyle is still trying to find the best combination of players to deploy, and we must be patient with him. There is a good team in there somewhere, as there was last season as well, but they are still trying to settle in and get on the same page. A win against Forest would be a big step in the right direction.