Disconnection and Indifference
In my last piece I finished with my concerns that the Bolton Wanderers fan base has become more and more indifferent to the growing situation at the club. So when drinking one of many August Bank Holiday beverages I decided that this would be the perfect place to start.
This time last year we were in the midst of our worst start in around 3,876 years and the fans were calling for blood, both of managerial and executive nature and the Reebok Stadium as it was then was quite a toxic place to be.
Fast forward 12 months and certainly from a football perspective the situation is very same but from a spectator perspective it could not be more different. Aside from social media there is no backlash, no protest and no ‘attendance dip'.
What we have is disconnection and indifference.
Bolton fans have a squad of players they are struggling to connect and relate with, the team is lacking in the personality we have come to love at our newer stadium and Burnden Park before it. Where have the characters gone from our team? These are the types of players who thrive at our club and it makes for a duller club and even town without the likes of El-Hadji Diouf, John McGinley or even Kevin Nolan.
With not long left in the transfer window I am pleading with the Wanderers board to not only invest in talent, but personality as well.
Identifying the Issue
As difficult as it can be to listen to Mr Freedman's post-match comments I once again strained my ears to hear what went wrong from the man who can possibly do something about it.
"We've got a very good group of players, though we know we need to add a little bit of quality in the final third.''
Dougie? We can't defend, mate.
We have absolutely no resolve and always look likely to concede. I did not believe for one second we would turn our lead into a win and this is not because I did not think we could score again but because I knew we would not have it in us to hold on.
The most worrying thing about this is that we have strengthened in this area and I would have guessed most of us were happy with how we were looking in this department before the season commenced.
So why has it not changed then?
Well the results in terms of the defensive output are still the same, we are conceding a high amount. One area that has not changed from last season is our defensive midfield and in recent posts I have highlighted the poor form of our captain Jay Spearing.
I won't win many popularity contests by suggesting that for the second consecutive season we have loaned out our most experienced defensive midfielder, Keith Andrews to another Championship rival.
I would put decent money on a bet that the Irishman finishes above his estranged Wanderers teammates again this season.
Solving the Problem
Not a simple task.
Where Bolton continues to struggle is their ability to hold the ball for extended periods due to their poor passing in midfield.
This has been seen on numerous occasions this season and Bolton will concede a lot of goals with this weakness as teams collect the stray passes and can quickly attack a disorganised back line quickly as they receive the ball up the pitch.
As with all successful teams, Borussia Dortmund's high pressing style has been copied all around Europe and we are currently in a ‘boom' for high-energy pacey midfield players. This of course is terrible news for a team like Bolton who struggle to maintain the ball under pressure from their opponents.
Many have called for the introduction of Josh Vela, who is of more technical persuasion than other central midfielders within the Wanderers ranks. If Mark Davies' fitness was more reliable, this may work but Vela is relatively untested in such a vital squad role and personally I would have concerns relying on him.
Truth is to fix this you probably have to rip out the faulty foundations and start again. I would seriously look at the reported interest in Spearing as a real opportunity to evolve the squad and reinvest it straight back into the midfield. I would also consider using Liam Trotter in a deeper role where his passing range could actually be useful to the Wanderers cause.
There certainly is a lot to fix and this long into Freedmans tenure, it pains me that I feel I have to discuss such massive changes to the squad, this is undoubtedly his team now.
The most ill-timed injury ever
I have done a few posts into this already disappointing season and in my last piece I perhaps mentioned the only real positive to come so far this season, the maturing of Adam Bogdan.
I should have known better than to tempt fate, even though I don't believe in fate because that would be senseless.
It is very disappointing to see Bogdan go off with an injury when in 2014 we have seen the growth of our young goalkeeper which was perhaps symbolised with his appointment as captain for the home League Cup encounter with local rivals Bury.
It is always concerning when a player goes down with a head injury and it was later revealed the Hungarian International was knocked out cold in the collision.
Bogdan is a major doubt for the Cup game against Crewe Alexandra at Gresty Road and as with all head injuries we would all like to see him take the time required to recover and not be rushed back early especially for a cup game.
Have a day off!
Bolton Wanderers have started their season in manic fashion and it really has not done us any favours. The games have come thick and fast and with our poor league form it really has not done us any favours.
This is when the cup becomes important and not only for the faint unlikely hope of Wembley glory but to find form in competitive fixtures against less competitive opponents (of course no disrespect to Crewe).
Bolton need to treat this game very seriously and I certainly would resist the temptation to play too much inexperience as we a desperate for form.
We have played a lot of fixtures in this incredibly hectic start and I would of course strongly recommend some of the fringe players playing but we must ensure we are sending as strong a team as possible down to Gresty Road to try and find our feet before another season gets away from us in the first two months.