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Bolton Wanderers: Why The Diamond No Longer Works

Evidently the diamond formation no longer works for Bolton Wanderers, Dan reckons he knows why.

Michael Steele

Cast your mind back to February 24th 2013. Bolton Wanderers had just completely dismantled title chasing Hull City, scoring four goals and playing some great football to boot. Fans were smiling and the, then named, Reebok Stadium was ringing aloud with chants of "His first name is Dougie, is Dougie, is Dougie..." The result was the real fire starter in Bolton's late, miraculous push for the play offs. Man, those times were fun and exciting.

Don't spend to much time looking back, you may start to well up.

On that day we played a midfield diamond, comprised of Jay Spearing, Darren Pratley, Chung-Yong Lee and Mark Davies. There was only one change in that midfield when Bolton played Rotherham on Tuesday night, that being Neil Danns for Lee.

So, why were Bolton completely hopeless in playing in the midfield diamond on Tuesday night?

Any of you who are lucky enough to read my views on this club of ours, will know I've long been an advocate for Bolton using the diamond, as I believed it best suits our personnel and playing style. But after watching the first hour against Rotherham, I've now seen the light. It leaves us far too narrow, our full backs exposed and leaves massive gaps in between the midfield and defence.

So, why did it work back then, but not now?

There could be many reasons: a lack of Craig Dawson in the heart of our defence, Jay Spearing's drop in form, the fact our player's confidence must be at rock bottom and many more.

But I think the real reason lies at fullback, and the fact we no longer have Marcos Alonso.

Having an attacking minded fullback, who had the pace, stamina and skill to march up and down the touchline all game and provide width down the left hand side, made the formation work. Alonso's influence on the left resulted in many goals and also allowed Lee to drift inside to support Davies in the middle, which lead to more creativity.

We've struggled in that area ever since Marcos Alonso's departure.

It's clear to me after last night that we can no longer play the diamond, and that I was most certainly wrong about it being our best formation.

From here on out it has to be a 442, Craig Davies and Joe Mason have to be given a prolonged run of games to really begin to understand each other and develop the partnership; Lee and Liam Feeney, or any actual winger, have to be played to provide the width and directness, allowing for quick transition from defence to attack; and finally Mark Davies should continue to be paired with a more defensively minded midfielder, allowing Davies to get involved in the attacks, but so he's in a position to press and win the ball back when the opposition has it.

If we can build on the confidence of the first victory, then maybe, just maybe, this season might not be quite as depressing as it started. Dougie Freedman - it's over to you.