You can find Will’s article Adam Le Fondre-Mysteriously Wasted elsewhere on the site as I could not work out how to link it. As well as the article there is a well reasoned comment from yardinhio. Both make some great points but I fall a little more in yardinhio’s camp on this one.
Since switching to the current 4-2-3-1 formation with Karl Henry and Darren Pratley at the base we have looked far more solid. We have picked up four points from our last two games after a run of two in eleven and looked more solid before finding that elusive first win of the season.
To change the system now I think would be unwise. Adam Le Fondre up top with Gary Madine may well add more attacking potency. But if you run a risk vs reward analysis you have to take into account the affect of the team becoming less solid and the opposition being able to, possibly, easily walk over us again.
Is this worth the risk? I would not say so.
One of the basis for Will’s article was that Adam Armstrong is not a winger and is wasted out there. On that front I agree. This is especially the case when we have Filipe Morais and Craig Noone currently waiting in the wings and Will Buckley, well, somewhere. All are more natural wide men and would be more suited to Armstrong’s current role while sticking with the current system.
Playing players out of position does not help a team. It is something to be done when circumstances dictate it to be necessary, or you have a plethora of unbelievable talent which needs to go somewhere. Right now we have neither of these situations so players should be used where they will be most effective.
The further issue I would have with the proposed 4-4-2 is who would be dropped. Pratley and Henry are doing a job together. Breaking them up would be a risk. So, I think, would dropping Josh Vela into the the role Pratley is carrying out. Vela has without a doubt played his best football in a more advanced position and has struggled far more when put into a more traditional centre midfield role. As such I do not think it would be wise to move Vela deeper.
I think a switch to 4-4-2 would necessitate Vela being dropped rather than Pratley. As he is one of our better players this would not seem like a logical way forward, especially as he does also offer a goal threat, reducing the potential net gain.
There is one potential area where Le Fondre could be deployed. Where Vela currently is.
I proposed this in my pre-Boro piece where I suggested that it should be Vela, Armstrong and Le Fondre fighting it out to play in behind Madine in a 4-2-3-1 system. Whether Le Fondre could offer more than Vela there I could not say. You do though again have the issue of removing one of our better players. Again the gain from deploying La Fondre would be undermined.
The idea of playing ALF up top though is one which has legs in my view, although the idea of dropping Madine will not be universally popular.
Madine has been one of our better players this season, but he should not be viewed as undroppable. Although he has been one of our better players he has been so in a team struggling for goals in the most part. If TV has thought me anything it is that all great detectives do not believe on coincidence. Do we have one here? Perhaps.
Perhaps the best way for Bolton Wanderers to gat goals is not to smash it at Madine. Is there a better way? Well there is only one way to find out, try it.
Yeah maybe it will not work, but maybe it is also worth a try. Maybe not from the start of a game if you are feeling cautious, but next time we need to find something in a game why not gamble. Rather than replacing Madine with 38 yeah old, I scored over 20 goals in League One once, Aaron Wilbraham and throw ALF or Armstrong up top in the 4-2-3-1. You never know it might just work out.
At the very least I would stomach the extra cost of not playing Armstrong, if there is one, and bring in a proper wide man in his place.