Just as eight out of ten cats prefer Whiskers, eight out of ten clubs will reach season end showing a fondness for a position not too dissimilar to the one they are in now. All clubs will have good and bad runs of course, but these will tend to even out over the course of 46 games. There will also be the teams that start well and then implode and likewise teams that appear, as if from nowhere, to secure a playoff or promotion place. That is what makes football great.
Our beloved Bolton currently occupies seventh place, four points from an automatic promotion place and six from an unimaginable relegation place (apart from ’87 that is). During the early part of the summer close season I’d say that the general consensus among fans was that mid table mediocrity was the most likely outcome, in a season where rebuilding the team would be the main focus. So overall, we can say that we are still doing better than expected. Except, of course this is Bolton Wanderers we are talking about, a team that seems to have a liking to be one of those two bastard awkward cats.
13 points out of the first five games was champions form and the glory of many gloating, albeit tongue in cheek, comments on Twittersphere/Blog sites. We didn’t even seem to have to play that well, we just won, although both the Sheffield and Charlton games showed that luck was on our side. Then, seemingly en masse, our players got injured, forgot how to score or play as a team, three points from the next five, relegation form and everything is shit.
My view? Just like the brief good run, the current bad run will end. I forget which season, but during one of Bolton’s top eight finishes in the Prem, we went on a ten game winless run. Still remember one fan screaming at Big Sam that he was a clueless prick... Same today, we’ve had injuries, new player’s still gelling, bad refereeing decisions, all conspiring to make our team look like it isn’t a team.
Let’s not forget where we have come from. Out of a squad of 43 players that were on the books at the end of last season, just 14 survived to the end of the transfer window. We managed to get decent money for just one, Holding. Out of those survivors, six are either injured (two long term) or just back from injury. Parky, who didn’t arrive until well after season end remember, has brought in a dozen replacements, all frees or loans and five arriving on transfer deadline day. Yes that was one hell of an exciting evening but let’s be honest, we’d rather have them at the start of pre-season rather than four games into the next season.
Then you look at the team formations. No sooner had Parky got the team playing together with a semblance of familiarity, the injuries and suspensions kicked in and most of the new guys weren’t ready to step up to the plate. So we’ve had the diamond formation that exposes our average fullbacks, using two midfielders in Vela and Trotter who shouldn’t really be on the pitch at the same time. We’ve had good old 4-4-2 but with full backs and wingers not clicking and using a target man in Proctor, who isn’t a target man. Yep wingers in midfield roles and vice versa and strikers everywhere bar up front scoring, or so it seems. We have a small squad and until they’re used to each other and Parky has found a formation that suits, we’re probably going to carry on looking not that great for a few games yet.
One thing for certain is that there is still a long, long season ahead. So let’s see where Parky has taken us by Christmas before we start calling for heads...