The international break has given both the Wanderers and fans a much needed emotional break from the thus far trying season in the Championship. It also gives Owen Coyle a chance to take a step back and figure out what on earth is going on. Bolton sit 20th in the Championship, just two spots above the relegation zone having only gotten 4 points from 4 games. Two of those four While assertions that Bolton would fly in the Championship were always over-hasty, even the most pessimistic amongst us didn't expect the team to be this bad.
Just what is wrong is difficult to diagnose, and even more difficult to fix. Owen Coyle may not be overly popular with Bolton fans right now, and perhaps he doesn't have enough experience to run a Premiership club, but we know he can do the Championship, we watched him do it with Burnley. He also brought most of his backroom staff with him from Burnley, meaning that while Bolton haven't been in the Championship for 10 years, many of its personnel have.
The squad perhaps is not the most impressive Bolton has ever deployed, but there it is by no means terrible. There is a decent balance between experienced veterans (Martin Petrov, Kevin Davies, Keith Andrews) and promising youth (Adam Bogdan, Marcos Alonso, Chung-Yong Lee), something which is necessary for a club of Bolton's size. While it certainly could be improved upon with some savvy plays in the transfer market, for the most part Owen Coyle did what he needed to in the summer transfer window: consolidate the existing squad, hold onto star players, and make a few quiet signings.
Or this would be the case if players were performing. However there hasn't been a single area on the pitch that the Trotters haven't been distinctly lacking in at some point or another. Granted, there have also been moments when the team looked quite good, usually around the 20 minute mark, but these have been few and far between. With the increase in matches, consistency is even more important in the Championship than in the Premiership, and that's one thing Bolton are sorely lacking.
So if it is not the backroom staff, or Owen Coyle, or the players, then it's something much deeper. A malaise has permeated throughout the club, and it is reaching the supporters. Every week, Coyle's job is called for louder and louder, and the Scot is running out of time to fix it.
That's what this international break should be for. Most players are not on duty, only 5 members of the squad having received call ups. There is a disconnect that needs to be addressed, and a confidence that needs to be regained. This is not a bad group of boys, and we know Coyle can do better, we've seen it. At this point, the problem is no longer about tactics or injury problems, the problem is the club, and it will take self reflection and a purposeful change to fix.
Chris Eagles said yesterday,
"It's been difficult for the fans because they have been frustrated with the start that we have made. But in this league, one win can change things and that can soon roll into two or three good results. Before you know it, you move straight up the league.
"We know we have to win matches and although some of the lads have been away on international duty, we have been in training this week working hard. I'm confident that we can come out after the international break, get a good result against Watford and move forward."
In my mind, he has the right idea. The players need to gain confidence in themselves and their talent again, and the team and club as a whole need to find a chemistry. If they don't soon, this run of bad results will spiral us straight down into League One. I still maintain that this is a good club, and that you can pick a good team from this squad, despite performances that say otherwise. Please prove me right BWFC