Bolton Wanderers are in a real pickle. Last weekend we lost at home to Burton Albion, the only team in the Championship that is anywhere near as bad as us, or has anywhere near as weak a squad, leaving us staring relegation down the barrel.
We have one win in our last six matches, won just three times in 11 games since the start of October, and kept just two clean sheets in 22 league games all season.
It’s pretty clear we need reinforcements if we’re to have any chance of changing our fortunes. Gary Madine does a good but heavily limited job in what is an utterly thankless task up front on his own with minimal support. Consequently, and unsurprisingly, we’re really struggling to score goals as we don’t have a natural goalscorer on the pitch.
Sammy Ameobi continues to be a one-trick pony and is largely ineffective too often and has been worked out by the more savvy Championship defences. But he’s the only player in our side that offers something a little bit different as there’s zero creativity in our midfield.
All of this spells inevitable relegation. Something has to change. We need a bit of a spark. But, if you take chairman Ken Anderson’s ‘Notes’ as gospel - personally, I wouldn’t bother - then January will unlikely be that time.
In the latest interation of his ‘Notes’ series King Ken commented:
“Experience has taught me that January is not the best time to bring new faces in, as unlike the summer window when you have the pre-season to settle them in and become familiar with their new team mates, there is not sufficient time in January for this.”
To some extent Ken’s comments make sense, especially as he goes on to state it takes time to get players match fit when they’ve not been playing for their clubs. I get that, but surely we have to make some attempt to escape relegation?
Regardless, these comments completely contradict a statement made in a previous ‘Note’ back on 20 October:
“We will be looking to add a handful of players in the January window and we are already having talks with agents about top players in the Premier League and Championship who are not getting regular games but who could strengthen the squad and help us climb up the table.”
So, which should we believe? Will we see a raft of “top players” or see no business at all? Personally, I’d like to think if the right player is out there cough Zach Clough cough then I’d love to see it happen, and it’s obvious that we need an addition or two to replace players that simply aren’t cutting it at the moment.
We have loanee Josh Cullen who can’t get in the team and either doesn’t look up to Championship football, or simply doesn’t suit our ‘style of football’ - aka he can pass the ball. Another loanee Adam Armstrong also doesn’t really look up to it and has been surpassed in the starting stakes by Will Buckley, whose fellow summer signing Craig Noone has done nothing to suggest he should be troubling the starting lineup. Then there’s players like Derik Osede who can’t get near the team and Chris Taylor, erm, yeah, and Stephen Darby clearly is not good enough for this level.
Another issue we’ve all questioned in the past is Ken’s comment:
“I also have to take into account the great spirit and camaraderie that we currently have within the current group of players, which has been clear for everyone to see on match days and it is vitally important that we don’t lose this.”
Is there any evidence whatsoever of this? We’ve just lost 1-0 at home against a poor Burton side and only began to show any urgency in the last five minutes of a match that we simply had to win. We’ve also thrown away leading positions no fewer than four times this season, and wasted a great chance to win at Nottingham Forest earlier this month only to go and lose 3-2. On that point, we also haven’t won an away Championship match in 36 attempts since defeating this weekend’s opponents Cardiff City way back in April 2015. What part of that dismal set of irrelevant historical statistics spells “great spirit and camaraderie”?
And as for Ken’s comments re attendances, I think it’s time to give it a rest. Losing at home to Burton in such a dismal manner is not going to inspire anyone to go along and support this side. And some signings in January can surely only help spark some inspiration.