Movement In The Middle
Bolton Wanderers have finally found a system that works for them. Whilst earlier on in the season the system was absolutely killing us, the introduction of true wingers has made a success of it. With Ameobi on one side and Buckley on the other, we saw pace and direct, attacking play from the wings, supported well by their respective wing-backs. What we are lacking is the same qualities in the middle of the park. Parkinson has settled on Karl Henry, Darren Pratley and Josh Vela as his preferred central midfielders with the latter playing further up the pitch. Whilst this trio has plenty of stamina, work rate and tenacity, it is found wanting when we are attacking. Whilst Vela has played with great success in this position before, resulting in both goals and assists, we are not seeing this now. This is perhaps because the two midfielders behind him don’t offer much support or because the system is different. Given we have such an immobile big man up front (not an insult, just the case with all target men) it is vital we support him with players who can exploit flick on’s and make space for each other. We have this on the wings but not in the middle. This is why it might be prudent to drop Pratley and move Vela back to centre midfield. In his place we could see Adam Armstrong, Adam Le Fondre (not bloody likely given he’s not even benchable now), Sammy Ameobi, Craig Noone or even give Josh Cullen another crack of the whip in a different position. Personally I feel as though Ameobi going central and giving Noone a chance could do well. This set up with give us plenty of width and plenty of movement around Gary Madine.
The Officiating Sucked
I mean, really! The referee today seemed to buy every single complaint made by a Forest player or fan. The free kick that led to the first goal was a joke. The referee has since apologised to Phil Parkinson for awarding it. Gary Madine spent all afternoon getting rooted in the shins with it only being blown for once. Every 50-50 seemed to go against us. This sometimes does just happen in football but there are ways to minimise the damage. More players like Karl Henry who can be vocal on the pitch and to the referee can only help. More leaders in January please.
Clough, Come Home
Our lad Zach Clough found himself on the bench for Forest again today, leaving him on a solitary appearance this season. Whilst this doesn’t mean he is deemed surplus to requirements, it does mean that Forest probably see him as expendable as a way of generating more salary space. I mentioned earlier that we were missing a player in the middle to play off Madine; Clough sure fits the bill. Adam Armstrong and Josh Cullen will be returning to their parent clubs in January and neither has done enough for the club to be itching to bring them back. This would free up some of our own salary and squad space...it could happen. It could also be a decent move to placate fans in the wake of a possible Josh Vela, sale.
I think we have well and truly sussed out that this is one of Parky’s weaknesses. Whilst we were absolutely all over them during the start of the second half it was obvious that after going behind again, were were running on empty. Mark Little who had been excellent in the first half had ran himself ragged, as had Buckley and Ameobi. Forest made two changes and we just couldn’t touch the ball after that. Had we responded in kind we might have been able to get back in it. Please be proactive Parky. PROACTIVE.
This Season Could Go To The Wire
With all the negativity that inevitably surrounds a loss, there were positives (to dust off an old cliche). We played really well and quite frankly deserved a win if not that draw. Ultimately Forest were more clinical and that’s a hard thing to be on a budget. With that said we’ve got a squad capable of staying up. If they can perform like they have in the last 7 or 8 games for the rest of the season, we’re in with a real shot at clinching survival. I genuinely think we can do it after today, despite the loss.