I was lucky enough to be able to watch Bolton Wanderers last weekend, thanks to them being on the telly. Naturally, on the rare occasion that I was able to watch the Whites they were utterly atrocious. Slow, directionless and just so turgid, it really was a difficult watch, one in which not one player came away drenched in glory. We weren't helped by the appalling referee who obliged to let off the dirty Peterborough side after every scything tackle but, regardless, Bolton didn't create nearly enough and didn't really deserve anything from the game.
1) Looks like Mark Howard will be missed
The start of our misfortune at London Road happened only nine minutes into the game, when Shaq Coulthirst decided to jump in front of goalkeeper Mark Howard as he was throwing the ball out after easily catching a corner. Howard was not able to stop himself and his hand went flying into Coulthirst neck and ended up fucking up his thumb. Howard had to leave and in stepped Ben Alnwick, and it wasn't long before his frailties were on full display. His nervous kicking which put us in danger on several occasions was bad enough, but when Peterborough's rightback hit an, admittedly well hit, show from thirty plus yards and it sailed in over Alnwick's head we knew that we were in trouble. Alnwick's limp wrist really should have done better with the shot and I have little doubt that Howard would have saved it. The first choice is now out of action for three months, at that might be a very long time.
2) Conceding first is disastrous for us
During our streak of seven wins on the bounce there's a theme: we scored first, and generally early, in every victory. With the style of play Parkinson has set up scoring early, but most importantly scoring the opening goal of the game, is vitally important. He want us to fire out of the traps, get on the score sheet and then just rely on our brilliant defence to see out the game. Grinding out the wins Italian style. The only issue with this is that if we concede the first goal, then the players look completely lost as to what to do. Aside from Zach Clough's ingenuity and some good movement from substitute Chris Taylor, we had no creativity in the final third against the Posh at all and the players looked completely lost. We've only come from behind to win once this season, and it's pretty evident that conceding the fist goal is pretty disaterous for us.
3) Cause for concern?
In lineage with the previous point, is it not a cause for a concern that Parkinson is seemingly unable to change the course of a game? Don't get me wrong, I love Parky and it's only our first league defeat in seven, so the result wasn't cataclysmic. However, this loss could very easily now lead us on another series of poor results and I feel it is important to look critically upon Parkinson. The first half against Peterborough was utter shambolic, the second half did get better but we were still unable to break Boro down. Now of course Parkinson can't score the goals himself, that's down to the players, but despite Wanderers getting no where, substitutions were left late (he had been somewhat shackled by the early injury, but still) and there didn't really appear to be any change of system to try and go for the equaliser. It's not panic stations yet, but Parkinson's seeming lack of a plan B is a something to be cautious about.
4) Trotter and Thrope is a no go
I think all will agree that a big factor as to why we performed so badly on Sunday was because of the two players in the holding midfield positions, Liam Trotter and Tom Thorpe. I haven't seen enough of Thrope to pass judgement and I still believe that there is a place for Trotter some where in the side, but the two should never play alongside each other again. Both are static and immobile players, which gave the midfield and therefore the entire team a real lack of urgency that has been a trademark of previous victories. With out that high energy we looked immediately more slack everywhere on the pitch and weren't pressing the Posh nearly hard enough. This gave them time on the ball and allowed them to control the game for the most part. Hopefully Parkinson learns from the experiment.
5) Where's Derik?
Speaking of the midfield, why oh why was Derik left out of the side? It's obvious that Parky is a big Thrope fan, but you shouldn't change a winning team and Derik can feel appropriately aggrieved that he was the one who had to make way. He may not have brought the energy that we were oh so sadly missing (Spearing's injury is a massive blow) but he would have undoubtedly allowed us to control the ball and the tempo of the game more with his good distribution, not to mention that I think he'd have actually plugged the gap that the goal was scored from. Derik is a good player in that holding midfield position, and I don't think he's being given a fair crack of the whip.