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Five Things: Norwich City vs Bolton Wanderers

A tough trip to Carrow Road was too much for Neil Lennon's men, let's break it down old school

Mark Davies' sex face
Mark Davies' sex face
Jamie McDonald

1) Work in progress

Seems a little underwhelming to make this point but it does really need discussing.

We all know the magnitude of job that our new manager Neil Lennon has on his hands and it would be reasonable to suggest that our season will not be defined by Norwich City away, one of the stronger sides in our division but it was a real test for Lennon and a chance to see whether his ideas are beginning to filter onto the pitch.

Whilst the team looked a lot more alive and the passing was perhaps a little crisper, there were a lot of familiar issues with the Bolton Wanderers side and perhaps for Lennon to make real inroads into the issues at Bolton, changes in personnel are particularly needed.

This makes the possible transfer embargo to Bolton Wanderers particularly problematic as the issues are matching the players to Lennon's more upbeat tempo and I have real concerns players such as Darren Pratley and Liam Trotter could every really perform in this sort of set up.

Perhaps this is the reason Neil Lennon quickly turned to the youth set up with Oscar Threlkeld to fill the space at full-back left by the unavailable Kevin McNaughton, who Bolton will be without again on Tuesday as both McNaughton and striker Joe Mason cannot line up against their parent club, Cardiff City.

Lennon had real success in bringing through younger players, particularly at full back during his time at Celtic and I'm sure many players in the youth set-up will be buoyed by seeing a fellow graduate handed an opportunity

*writers note: Always liked the word ‘embargo'

2) Threlkeld fails to win an Oscar

Oscar's big moment certainly could have gone better

Let's be frank though it isn't all his fault he did seem rather exposed but as he is playing with the senior side it is only fair he is judged on the standards we would expect to see and he was miles behind where we need our defenders to be.

A real lack of pace was evident but perhaps most concerning was the lack of composure which not only saw him give the ball away but the negativity spread amongst the players around him, the distribution of a full back is a real underrated part of the game and can allow away teams to hold on to the ball in safer areas of the pitch, we lost that assurance and paid for it.

The promotion of youth was a ‘Hot Topic' (Partridge, Alan 1997) under Dougie Freedman with the hapless manager constantly criticised with overlooking the young hopefuls in favour of senior players who may have been struggling with form. Freedman coined himself a champion of promotion from the academy and did have real success of this at Crystal Palace.

Dougie Freedman openly criticised the output of Bolton Wanderers costly academy programme on more than one occasion and on the rare appearances of the academy graduates, the performances were often disappointing, in fact the only real impact of a young player I can think of at Bolton in the last 5 years in Joe Riley in his debut in our 5-0 home win against Stoke City.

If they are not good enough, don't play them.

3) Experience let us down

Matt Mills, you silly bastard.

The big bearded defender has been perhaps our most reliable player over the last 18 months but really had a shocker in front of the Sky Sports cameras. Norwich City played him like a fiddle and the big man was constantly dragged out of position and was caught up in endless physical battles with striker Cameron Jerome.

Jerome is a good player, a strong physical and quick forward but the level of dominance he had over Mills was palpable and the first goal will be particularly disappointing for Mills.

Another good performer from last season was Tim Ream who also put on a horror show.

Ream has recently forced his way back into the USA national side and it would be disappointing if he slipped back into the sort of form we originally saw when we signed the American defender as he struggled to find his feet in the English game.

It could not have been easy for the struggling Oscar Threlkeld to see these two experienced defenders put in such a poor performance.

4) The Mark Davies Conundrum

Since arriving both with his starting XI selections and words in the press, it is pretty clear that Neil Lennon sees Lee Chung-Yong as the key player in his Bolton Wanderers side.

A selection perhaps made easier by the most recent and 653rd injury to Mark Davies, Lennon has deployed Chung-Yong in the famed ‘number 10' role a position he has taken to remarkably well.

I don't think anything warms the heart of a Bolton fan as much as seeing our little Chungy doing well, so this raises the question, what do we do with Mark Davies, arguably our best player?

Neil Lennon, like ourselves is still looking for the answer, the deployment of Davies in his more unnatural right-sided position really contributed to Threkeld's problems.

It has been a while since Davies operated in this position where he was utilised by Owen Coyle away from home as Stuart Holden and Fabrice Muamba were considered the sturdier partnership (I know, the irony is incredible).

Do you bench Davies or can you possibly make up with his lack of defensive ability in a position where it is likely to be more tested, either out wide or in a deeper position in the middle?

For me, the bench beckons and he fights for his place, a bit of competition for places never did anyone any harm.

5) Big Seven Days

To survive Bolton Wanderers must be strong at home and now we have successive home games against two good sides who are both struggling for consistency this season.

First for the Wanderers is the Tuesday tie against Cardiff City.

The Welsh side recently parted ways with former Manchester United striker, the baby-faced ball-bag Ole Gunner Solkjaer and fresh from a 2-1 home win over the weekend.

Bolton will be hoping to follow up their last impressive home display against Brentford with three points against Cardiff and set themselves up nicely for the derby game on Friday against Dave Whelan FC.

After Cardiff, it will be derby day at the Macron as Bolton Wanderers ‘welcome' Dave Whelan FC to the Macron Stadium in a trip which adds three days onto the life span of the Wigan supporter as it offers respite from their normally toxic environment on the dark side of Blackrod.

The lure of fresh air and clean water should be a good enough draw for Wigan and their double-figure fanbase to come in good number and fill at least a 575 if Arriva reduce their fares for them.

Bring it on Dave Whelan, Lenny is waiting for you.