In the third part of this increasingly tiresome series, I have taken a look back at the recently completed 2013/14 league campaign for my beloved Bolton Wanderers and broken down what we can learn from it and placed these ideas, thoughts and daft comments in what I think to be five relatively handy and semi-easily-digestable portions.
Part Three revolves around whether the rollercoaster ride that we have experienced throughout this league season and what this might mean going forward into the 2014/15 Championship.
Whether you agree or disagree.....feel free to use the comments box below.
3) High Highs and Low Lows
We don't support Bolton Wanderers because we want to. Let's face it.
We support Bolton Wanderers because we have to.
It's a shit deal. We get very little back from what we put in, but every know and then they give back EVERYTHING and this reminds us all why we love them so very much.
This season, as previously mentioned, has brought us some dark dark days. The ten game club record winless streak at the start of the season saw us at one point lose four successive games against Nottingham Forest, QPR, Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United. These were incredibly tough times and it has been said elsewhere that manager Dougie Freedman could well have lost his job as a result.
It took until 6th October for us to win our first game, away at Birmingham City with goals from Neil Danns and Jermaine Beckford. We then went on an encouraging eight game streak without a defeat which itself was then followed up with two consecutive ups and downs.
As Ronan Keating once said in his hit song 'Life is a Rollercoaster', life certainly is a rollercoaster. This rollercoaster has a name - Bolton Wanderers - and should come with a health warning.
Three times we have gone on a run of winning three consecutive games. Conversely we have lost four consecutive games once, three consecutive games once and two consecutive games once. Ups and downs, highs and lows.
The worst performance that I have seen myself this season came in the home defeat to Huddersfield Town which saw us outmanned, outclassed and outplayed by our opponents in every single department. That day we offered nothing up front, even less in midfield and, remarkably, even less at the back.
It was a huge disappointment to lose that game given that we had previously been on a positive run of form.
My personal highlight of the season came in the 4-0 thumping of near neighbours and chicken pluckers Blackburn Rovers in what was a perfect storm of attacking play and defensive solidity the likes of which we have only experienced once all season.
There have been other candidates for both high and low point of the season, but for me those two games stand out.
Player performances have also fluctuated wildly across the season. The form of last year's Player of the Season Jay Spearing have been immensely disappointing, with the former Liverpool midfielder only showing his 'true' form in the last month. His central midfield partner Medo has similarly disappointed given his strong end to the previous campaign.
Our defenders have been similarly inconsistent. American defender Tim Ream continues to split opinion, although I do believe he is a worthy winner of the BWSA Player of the Season award despite his propensity for a mistake. Zat Knight has been Zat Knight, whilst Matt Mills has a lovely beard.
Our striking options have been scarce. We shifted David Ngog out, which was a relief, but then we are stuck with Jermaine Beckford - something I imagine he would greet with that irritating thumbs-up gesture that he so loves. loan men Joe Mason and Lukas Jutkiewicz have, arguably, saved us from a nail-biting relegation battle and count as Dougie Freedman's best signings of the season.
Even the players who have been playing well have not been especially consistent. Little four or five game runs of form have given us brief rays of hope, but soon after things have returned to a frustrating plateau.
Jutkiewicz has won the respect of fans following his initial performances but he too has suffered of late, going through a rough patch in the last month of the campaign.
I do understand and appreciate that players cannot be on fire all the time (unless you're me at 5 a side), but consistency is key and will be the key driver as to how we get on next season. The final game against Birmingham encapsulated the season for me, in that we had the win within our grasp and yet managed to throw it away.
So it has been a season of high highs and low lows - I hope we can enjoy more of the former next season and less of the latter, but I am doubtful.
It all depends on who is the manager come August, and who this manager brings in. We need reinforcements and we need players who can be consistent. Too many shonky players in the squad who struggle to maintain form.
Sort out Dougie/Neil/David/Pep.