Phil Parkinson's Bolton Wanderers roared back into form with a huge bang on Saturday, dispatching Walsall by four goals to one. It was a thoroughly enjoyable game for many many reasons, and so without further ado, here are my five points from the game:
What's Going on With Josh Vela?
It might seem a bit harsh to offer up criticism after a four goal win, but the continuing poor form of Josh Vela is beginning to become a problem.
Before Christmas, when played in an attacking role, Vela was a huge threat. His form over the festive period was the best of his career and it was cherished by all. However, since the New Year, he has failed to replicate anything near that same level.
Shifted around the pitch by Parkinson, Vela has struggled and against Walsall he was equally poor. He struggled with the ball at his feet and bar a couple of timely challenges was fairly anonymous.
The change in formation, to accommodate Adam Le Fondre, was always going to have its victims, and it seems that Vela could be one of those.
The Return of the King
So, as mentioned, ALF came back for his second home debut. He started with a bang - shooting instinctively after only a matter of seconds - the keeper saved, but it gave the crowd at huge lift.
His presence was a distraction to the Walsall defence throughout, although barring one snatched-at shot in the second half they did manage to contain his goal threat.
It was great to see him back in a Bolton shirt, and hopefully when we learn to play to his strengths, and be less direct, we'll see him thrive.
Antonio Conte, the batshit mental match-fixing Italian flavour of the month, seems to have taken all the credit for reinventing the 3-5-2 formation, which Bolton adopted at the weekend. That may be true, but to see such relative innovation from Parkinson was great, given his tactical inflexibility of late.
The energy brought to the flanks by Filipe Morais and Andrew Taylor stretched the Walsall midfield and gave us two extra attacking options. Both have excellent delivery on the run and a more capable target man might well have managed to get on the end of a couple of the tastier crosses into the box.
David Wheater, Mark Beevers and Derik Osede marshalled the defence with ease, with the latter earning my LOV MOTM award as a result.
Gary Madine and ALF also benefitted from the extra support from the flanks, and I would hope that Parky continues this new approach against Rochdale tomorrow night.
That Man Gary
He scored! I was very happy for him to get his goal on Saturday. It's been a while since his last one, and extends his current hot streak to three in 26.
He was a nuisance to the Walsall defence, and although not the best in the air (despite his frame) he kept them busy throughout.
As always, we had a couple of softarse moments, such as when he spent a good minute rubbing his ear after a Walsall defender beat him to the ball, and a bit in the second half where he flung his arms up in the air in a most pathetic attempt to win a free kick, but given that Wanderers won and Madine scored, all those moments of weakness can be forgotten.
I like the idea of his partnership with ALF, and look forward to tomorrow night for round two.
That Stadium Announcer Guy
Christ he's a bit rubbish isn't he.
Seemingly cut from the Paddy McGuinness/Peter Kay cloth "ey up love ah'm from Bowton', he continues to test my patience with his Pontins banter.
I don't expect high-class entertainment during the break, but it might've been nice if he would have alerted more fans, for example, to the imminent minute applause for the recently passed. It left a lot of fans bemused, and lessened the impact of the planned tribute.
I'm not suggesting either that we bring back the original guy. Known by everyone (at his insistence), as the 'Reebok Voice', he was hardly the compere without compare.
Just a little niggle, but that's why I'm here.