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Opinion: How to Address Bolton Wanderers' Defensive Woes

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Chris takes a look at our recent problems and offers a solution

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It has often been said, mainly by me, that I'm a solutions man. Give me a question, and I'll sort you out with an answer. Sometimes the question is a bit daft, or sometimes it not even my business to interject - but god damnit I'm going to stick my oar in whether it's required or not.

With that in mind, I thought I'd turn my problem-solving skillz on Bolton Wanderers and their underperforming defensive unit - namely Josh Vela, David Wheater, Matt Mills, Dorian Dervite and Tim Ream.

With a goal difference of minus eight, we've been suffering defensively all season. Personally I put the blame at the door of former manager Dougie Freedman. He constructed this particular iteration of Wanderers' defensive experts, and he's the man to blame. Lovely Neil Lennon gets a pass.

We have conceded 15 goals in the past five league games:

Bolton Wanderers 3 v 4 Watford

Bolton Wanderers 3 v 1 Fulham

Derby County 4 v 1 Bolton Wanderers

Bolton Wanderers 2 v 2 Wolves

Rotherham United 4 v 2 Bolton Wanderers

It's not a pretty statistic.

The defensive breakdown is as follows:

Opponent RB CB CB LB

Opponent RB CB CB LB
Watford Josh Vela David Wheater Dorian Dervite Tim Ream
Fulham Janko Wheater Dervite Ream
Derby Wheater Ream Dervite Dean Moxey
Wolves Josh Vela Wheater Dervite Ream
Rotherham Dervite Matt Mills Ream

So as this somewhat scientific approach shows, the common theme is players playing out of position. We have midfielder Josh Vela at right back - occasional defensive midfielder and sometime centre half Tim Ream at left back. We have had former Spurs and Villarreal centre half Dervite filling in at right back, but only when on-loan Manchester United man Saidy Janko isn't needed on the right wing.

We need to take a common sense approach, and play footballers in their correct footballing position. That means bringing in out-of-favour right back Kevin McNaughton, and habitual sub Dean Moxey at left back. The return of Matt Mills from injury will see one defensive slot filled by our captain - the other spot belongs to David Wheater for me.

That would involve Dervite dropping to the bench. I would also put Tim Ream back in midfield, where his on-the-ball ability would shine in a position where keeping possession is key.

Who would drop out of midfield then? Maybe Neil Danns, I don't know - but the time has come for change. Our poor defensive work of late is not the fault of goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, so his position can remain, but the personnel in front of the former Leeds United man can and should be altered to try and get out of this funk.

Lenny if you're listening - I won't charge for this advice.