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Five things: Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Burton Albion

What to make of a calamity result, performance and week that no doubt had Sir Nat looking down shaking his head?

Bolton Wanderers v Burton Albion - Capital One Cup First Round Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

If Bolton had to win a match then this was it. We lost. Victory would’ve strengthened our hold on a place outside the relegation zone and pretty much consolidated a poor Burton in that last place. It didn’t happen of course, so what did we learn?

  1. Fortune favours the brave. Ok I get it. My favoured formation of 4-4-2 ‘attack is the best form of defence’ is based on little professional football knowledge and would likely have resulted in a 3-0 hammering rather than just a 1-0 defeat. Parky has the football background, experience, sees the team on the training pitch etc etc. But, I ask, did we really need to play with two defensive midfielders and a solitary striker when playing at home against the only team in this league that we can genuinely say has a weaker squad than ours? We needed to win this game and I just don’t see how an overly cautious approach was going to make a win more likely. I do think that Parky gets slated too much for factors outside his control but surely he could’ve, should’ve, gone with a more attacking line up?
  2. Midfield is still the key. I see a lot of thoughts put into words by fans on social media in regard to where we need to strengthen, from a new goalie, centre back, attacking midfielder and of course a striker. When the aim is just to finish higher than 22nd place though, what we need more than anything is a team that can function effectively as a unit. Alnwick is okay, we have players to present an ok back four. We have plenty of wingers that can do a job and whether you like it or not, Madine is a handful up front, despite being in need of support. For me it’s that middle three where the problem lies and until Parky can find a mix of players that can retain possession, pass accurately, provide that glue of stability to enable other players to relax and stop the panic hoofball, then we are on course for relegation. A Henry/Pratley partnership is just not working and Vela is not as effective up front when he plays with those two behind him. There’s Derik, Karacan, Buckley, Noone and Ameobi that can all be thrown into the mix. Whatever, Parky absolutely has to find a middle three that works and sticking with Henry, Pratley and Vela every week isn’t the answer.
  3. Hoofball. The ‘direct approach’ is a big favourite with Parky as we all know. Now there are times, many indeed during a game where a defender needs to boot the ball into row Z or a long ball going forward to an attacking player when on the counter. But surely some of the pressure can be taken off the team by holding onto the bloody thing and playing from the back. What’s happened to a goalie throw to a defender that’s then played out to midfield/wing? When we go direct on every occasion it seems to stagnate the team, oh and the fans! Beevers is a big culprit for the boot upfield no matter what. I’d love to see a Wheats/Burke partnership given a chance.
  4. Ticket prices. To the surprise of absolutely no one bar the chairman it seems, we had another piss poor attendance last Saturday. Christmas shopping, poor football and bad weather don’t help of course but reasonable ticket prices would. Thirty quid to watch Burton? I mean, seriously do one. In fairness, I think that the club offer very reasonably priced season tickets and credit to them for that. What gets on my tits though is the expectation that the odd short notice reduced on the day ticket prices should bring the crowds flocking in. What a load of bollocks that is. Fans are creatures of habit and to get them back into the habit of going to matches is a slow burn process. Prices need to be set low for the season not just the odd match, which invariably is a Cup game. Twenty really is plenty and that goes for both home and away fans. In my view a large away following adds to the match atmosphere and should be encouraged. Ripping them off isn’t doing us any favours in the long term.
  5. The Chairman’s notes. For someone who once stated when he first arrived on the scene, that he likes to stay in the background, I hear more from Anderson than I do from Parky. Now this is double edged sword. Let’s be clear, I welcome a chairman who is willing to engage with the club supporters. Whilst we all take the piss at times, I genuinely think that Anderson is doing the right thing in banging the sales drum for merchandise, LOV suite or ticket offers etc. He’s doing his bit for the club in that regard and we can’t really complain. What does truly grip my shit though is that it doesn’t stop there. Oh no, it’s almost as if he can’t resist the opportunity to have a sly pop at whoever he’s got a beef with that week. The finger was pointed at stay away fans last week and the players this. Neither helped the club or went down well with the supporters. There’s also operation smoke and mirrors with statements or denials that seem to indicate one thing but when you actually read it again, don’t. I honestly don’t think he has to stop his regular communications, maybe them being less often, yes, but not stop. But what would be nice is if he was to get someone to give him a second unbiased opinion before he sends them out. It’d do him a lot of favours going forward in my opinion.