This is becoming and all too familiar feeling in 2017, disappointment. Bolton Wanderers have continued their shabby start to 2017 with a draw against a team, the table suggests we should be beating.
A quick run-down of the game: Wanderers started with Madine back in and Dervite drafted in to a back 3. We started brightly with all the signs pointing to an enjoyable evening. A goal followed soon after courtesy of Gary Madine and you'd have bet on us to get a second. Once Wimbledon had found their feet in the game everything changed. They kept the ball well, beat us to all the second balls and hemmed us in. The scored before the half. We came out looking the better team for most of the second half but it ultimately finished 1-1.
What many are saying of this game is that it felt all too familiar when compared with the Bristol Rovers game. We were out-worked, out-classed and out-gunned in the middle of the park. It was a common observation on twitter that Josh Vela was sitting too high up when Wimbledon were attacking leaving Derik Osede and Tom Thorpe in a handicap situation. I don't blame Vela for this, people have been crying out for him to get up the pitch once again after average form further down but a balance needs to be struck.
What needs to change though? The formation. Phil Parkinson has given this 3-5-2 thing enough time and it's time to try something else. It doesn't suit anyone. Derik fared far, far better after switching to 442 in the second half, as did Adam Le Fondre and Morais. Tom Thorpe was unimpressive again and didn't get a chance to see the same revival as Derik as he was hauled off for James Henry. The system also plainly doesn't suit ALF and I've said in the past he is worth working around. Let's try 4-4-2 next week with 2 out and out wingers in Viv and Morais. This would create more space for attackers to run in to and give the team more balance. It's worth a shot given the level that 3-5-2 is bringing.
The formation isn't the only source of problems however. The midfield is lacking in energy and this is a real worry. It sorely misses the tenacious style of Jay Spearing and the explosive attacking momentum that Sammy Ameobi brought. Derik, Thorpe and Vela were lethargic and couldn't dictate the pace of the game. We need a difference maker in there to go along with the more 'bread and butter' types. Unfortunately as we looked to the bench there was nada. Hopefully the singing of ex-reading midfielder, Jem Karacan can make a difference there.