Many commentators would argue that consistency and, more pertinently, consistent starting line-ups are the key to footballing success.
If you happen to be a subscriber to that particular theory, try telling current Bolton Wanderers manager Neil Lennon and his predecessor Dougie Freedman, whose team selections became so random they earned the moniker 'Dougie's Bingo.'
Perhaps the most interesting, unusual, bizarre (insert your own adjective here) example of this point, is Lennon's right-back merry-go-round this season.
The more cynical among us might suggest that Lennon has finally started to listen to the fans, although choosing to take on board the popular "We all dream of a team of Nicky Hunts" serenade seems an odd place to begin.
Despite having specifically purchased two specialist right-backs in the summer Lennon has, for no coherent reason, frozen both out of the first-team squad - allowing one to move on loan to a League One side, and the other to go AWOL. In their absence, Lennon has used EIGHT other players from his squad at right-back at some point during the season - none of them being actual right-backs, obviously.
Just to reiterate the point, Bolton have used TEN players at right-back this season. That list in full is:
|Player||Appearances at RB|
|Derik Osede||4 and a half|
|Prince||One half at QPR and another half at home to Ipswich|
|Francesco Pisano||1 and a bit: Got hooked at half-time at QPR, then 7 mins at Preston|
|David Wheater||Filled in at some point for a few minutes|
|Dorian Dervite||1, we think|
|Liam Feeney||Kind of filled in as wing-back at Middlesbrough|
|Neil Danns||A few minutes at Forest|
Wanderers began the campaign with Lawrie Wilson holding down the right-back berth and generally looking decent and very stylish with his lovely flowing locks. However, one stinker against Huddersfield Town and Wilson was gone, never to be seen again except for showing up to watch a match with the fans at Hull (I think) - a la Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Michael Carrick.
Wilson was replaced by exciting Italian import Francesco Pisano, who was given somewhat of a baptism of fire of an introduction to the English game. He made his debut against then table-topping Brighton, before being hooked at half-time at Queens Park Rangers, then played 7 minutes as a substitute against Preston and has never been seen again (there's a theme occurring here...)
Enter in his place Derik Osede, the centre-back, for a few games, who looked so unnatural there that he was also ditched, never to be seen again, after playing the second half at Ipswich Town. That was in place of Prince who had attempted to fill in at right-back both at Ipswich and QPR but looked mightily uncomfortable - because he's a centre-back.
We then saw Josh Vela return from the dead to fill in at right-back for a few games before being switched to his actual position of central midfield at Charlton Athletic when, lo and behold, he began to flourish in his natural place on the football pitch. He also filled in at right-back against Eastleigh in the cup on Tuesday night, but hopefully we'll see him back in the midfield for the upcoming league games.
With Vela back in midfield we've seen his fellow academy product Rob Holding take on the right-back berth. Holding, despite being a centre-back, has actually looked pretty good there and is beginning to grow in competency, despite his clear hesitance over the attacking side of the role.
Now, just for an extra special treat, how about this as a team of Wanderers right-backs this season?:
It'll be intriguing to see what Lennon does with the right-back role for the rest of the season. Will he stick with Holding, or will we finally see an actual right-back return to claim their place in the side? Can Pisano show the undoubted talent that 11 years of playing in Serie A suggest he has, or can Lawrie Wilson find form on loan at Peterborough United to return to our starting line-up?