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Five Things: Fulham 1-1 Bolton Wanderers

Three games undefeated, what’s stuck out this past week?

Bolton Wanderers v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Away at Fulham is always a good day out for the fans and last Saturday was no exception. Friendly little club, in a great location with decent pubs. But what about the week in the Bolton world?

  1. We are finally competing. Despite post match stats saying that we had only a miserly 25% possession, we actually looked like a Championship side on Saturday. Not a great one it has to be said, but at least we don’t look like a League One club dressed up in Championship clothing anymore. One reason is of course the determination, grit or ‘up for a fight’ attitude that Henry’s arrival and the reemergence of Wheater and Beevers have given. But the quality added by the Vela and Ameobi return from injury has also had a notable affect. It gives us a glimmer of hope going forward when none was to be had at the end of September.
  2. The starting XI needs to change. Obviously a difficult call for Parky to change a lineup that hasn’t lost for three games, assuming no absence through injury that is, but it needs to be done. Armstrong on the left wing isn’t working and he left Taylor horribly exposed in the first half and Robinson in the second. It was the same against QPR. Armstrong is not a winger. What’s more, the second half open goal miss was unforgivable for a striker. Fulham punished us in injury time, when Beevers didn’t pick up Cairney, giving him a free header which was buried into the back of the net. Similarly, Armstrong needed to put away a relatively easy long shot, when presented with an open goal, after Button has gifted him the ball. He didn’t and we really needed those three points. Our wingers are all back, so let’s play one of them on the wing...
  3. Madine needs a strike partner. I actually thought the big man did ok against Fulham, although I seem to have a minority view on that. Madine has done well this season but the general lack of support means that a lot of the work he does is usually for nothing. It’s better now that Vela is at least providing a midfield link, but I still think Madine needs a strike partner to make the best use of him. It worked late last season so why can’t we give it another go? When ALF came on we looked more threatening going forward, although his appearance on the field was more than a little nullified by us starting to defend deep and hence not keeping possession. As we cannot survive with a back three I appreciate that means a two man midfield. My view is that Henry and Vela can do it and it’s worth a try. One thing is apparent, to survive this season, Bolton still need to step up another gear. We have to win games, a lot more games and Parky has still to find a formation that combines the right players to do that.
  4. The fans. Our support on Saturday was superb. It really was outstanding. A neutral in the away end would never believe that this group of fans have witnessed some real shite performed by their team this season. Rather than destroy individual mistakes, the fans have rallied behind a team obviously trying very hard to turn things round. I’m sure that the players appreciate the backing and it bodes well going forward.
  5. The Chairman’s notes. The support Anderson gives the manager and the team is great and I don’t blame him for the overly can do positive message he gives. Similarly using the opportunity to promote various sales drives for tickets or whatever is a good thing. Generally I’d rather have a chairman that tries to communicate with the fans rather than the stony silence of the Gartside era. But and theres a big BUT. There is a difference between being open, informative, engaging the fans, whilst positively banging the club drum and using the club as a mouthpiece to unfairly put down other parties, whilst making contradictory statements that make no sense at all. Some of the statements released this year have at times been almost farcical. The ones this past week around the ‘teaser’ pamphlet and club sale have been particularly embarrassing for the club. Furthermore, the fact that over the last year a number of statements have had to be modified post release really should be setting off alarm bells with our chairman and not just seemingly his lawyers. Whilst regular owner/chairman communication is essential in my opinion, sometimes less is more. For everyone’s sake, please take note Mr Anderson.