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Derby County vs Bolton Wanderers: 5 Things

Trying to make sense of another away day hammering. Are we in danger of thinking we're better than we actually are?

Michael Steele/Getty Images

So we take a battering from the Rams. Not a completely unexpected result unlike the Rotherham debacle but one that continues a worrying trend.

Are we becoming purely a home team that has a soft underbelly on our travels?

1) Away Day Blues

Not since Millwall on the 19th December have we kept an away clean sheet now and this was the fifth away defeat under Neil Lennon's tenure. Bar this game and the last none have been heavy losses but are we seeing a worrying precedent set here where we switch off constantly at the back and allow the game to have slipped away before the hour mark?

Is it that Lennon sets us up to be too attack minded away from home having seen the potential of the team in our home performances and believes we should be able to replicate that as the away team and dominate proceedings?

Or is it simply that both Liverpool games took so much out of the players the mental and physical fatigue took an unimaginable toll? Either way we must address this before we find it becomes impossible to grind out an away win, like in Lennon's first game in charge at Birmingham.

2) 3-5-2, 4-4-2 or 4-5-1

I'm all for Lennon's penchant for adapting his team and formation to the particular challenge of the opposition, his available players and the form they are in.

He is still getting to know his troops and obviously wants to test their capabilities to adapt to various ways of playing and judging their ability to play differing roles in varying structures. In doing this he can sort the wheat from the chaff and make the necessary changes in the summer to his personnel.

However, when does this become deterimental to their chances of becoming a well oiled machine and a cohesive unit who know their own roles and that of their teammates.

I personally can see why he goes with 5-3-2 (or 3-5-2) as we are heavy on good centre halves and light on talented natural wingers. Feeney is almost the perfect wing back in that he has a terrific engine, works back and can cross the ball. Having three in the centre of the park makes sense against the majority of Championship midfields who employ a similar system.

When Craig Davies eventually returns to full fitness I expect him to form a fruitful end of season partnership with Adam Le Fondre. All makes sense, so why doesn't it work so well? I am told we shaped up in a 4-4-2 v Derby with Moxey on the left wing and Ream in holding midfield. This clearly didn't work either, or if it did the concession of Ince's free-kick set in motion a worrying collapse.

Should Lennon pick a formation and stick with it to give the players the best chance to fully understand and get used to playing that way. I think so but it depends on who we have available on any given match day so your guess is as good as mine as to how we'll line up against Fulham back at The Macron on Tuesday night.

3) How to Best Utilise Josh Vela

My own opinion is that he was doing great at Right Back and gave us some real impetus down the right and he had forged a good understanding with Feeney.

Whilst he has put in MOTM performances in central midfield I would favour a return to right back or even right wing back for now as he gives us something down that side that I feel is more pertinent than he does in centre mid right now.

Many may disagree but he has plenty of time to tie down that position next season. We just need to pull as far away from the drop zone as we can, then look to really bed in the team we want going forward for what we all hope will be a promotion push under our new Ginger God next season.

4) Liam Trotter-ing Around

Our new terrace boo boy target went off at half time after another uninspiring display by all accounts. He is reported to have come off injured which may be music to some peoples ears. On his debut for the club I commented that he didn't play like a footballer.

Something just isn't quite right about him and my gut feeling was that he wouldn't fit in here. I do think he cares and I do see what managers see in him as when he has a good passage of play, like against Wigan in the FA Cup, it seems effortless.

However, I don't see him playing a long term part here. I can't work out what his best position within the make up of central midfield is. He's big and strong enough to be a holding midfielder in the Abdoulaye Faye mould but he doesn't impose himself in the way Faye did for that to work. I hope he proves me wrong but I really feel he is on a downward spiral to an eventual exit.

5) Is Lennon Getting too Much Praise?

Now I'm not having a moan at him here. This man has lifted the mood 100% (not 110% as such a thing doesn't exist) since he arrived. Hell, if Mike Bassett had took over from Dougie it would have lifted the mood. Anyone would've done.

But is he receiving a few too many plaudits for a decent job thus far? We seem to overlook the fact that we are getting turned over quite easily away from home.

This defeat has been met with a shrug whereas it would've been met with vitriol and anger in September/October. Yes, Derby have splashed out big and had the likes of Jesse Lingard and Darren Bent to call on from their subs bench on Saturday which illustrates the difference between the clubs at the moment.

However, such a meek surrender for the 2nd game in a row should not be tolerated and I am sure Lennon put a pretty hefty rocket up most of the players' behinds in the dressing room after the game.

He is becoming a cult hero here and I understand why but he shouldn't be immune from constructive criticism. I do think that the players have let him down in these heavy defeats but the tinkering I have alluded to must play a part in these disappointing showings.

Don't get me wrong, I hope Lennon is here a long, long time and that the strange goings on at Leicester don't transpire in an offer for our esteemed manager.

His recent return to berating the referees is counter productive, however justified he might be after a run of poor decisions have cost us the chance to make a game of it in these defeats.

We just need to remind ourselves that he is not a deity and to those who think he is actually a reincarnation of Jesus, he's not the messiah, he can be a very naughty boy.