Bolton Wanderers haven’t won a game that Gary Madine hasn’t featured in this season, and after he picked up a shoulder injury against Scunthorpe the other week Wanderers have picked up just one point and scored zero goals, leaving us with only a two point gap between ourselves and Fleetwood Town in 3rd place. What alternatives do we have other than big Gaz Madine? Is Gary Madine the reincarnation of Jesus?
In the last few games, Parkinson has played a 361 formation with 5 foot 9 inch Le Fondre at the tip of the attack, our plan to hoof it up to him and look for knock downs or to win the second ball and play from there.
Unsurprisingly this hasn’t worked and now our seven point fancy M&S cushion has been chewed up by the new pupper in the league, Fleetwood Town. If we wish to go up automatically, which I think is the only route that will take us up, we need to try something new.
Although I didn’t see Wilkinson play at either Sheffield United or Scunthorpe, I’ve been told he was poor, but if Parkinson wants to keep up the hoof ball tactics then he has to be our main alternative to big Gaz based on his height alone. At 6 foot 3 inch he’s the same height as Madine and can compete better than ALF, Long and Clayton in the air. Wilkinson can look frustratingly lethargic but does have real quality when the ball is at his feet. Conor has loads of potential and that will only turn into good performances when played regularly, but I can understand it would be risky throwing him in at the deep end of a promotion battle. I think Wilkinson is our best option playing alongside ALF in a front two.
Chris Long or Max Clayton
Long and Clayton are similar strikers to each other, with a few differences. Long has real pace and if we were to knock it behind defenders for him to run on too he would be a dangerous weapon for us. Unfortunately, sides rarely allow us that space, setting up with a deep defensive backline which would make that part of Long’s game ineffective. Long hasn’t shown any dominance in the air when he has played and without a change in formation I don’t see him as a viable alternative for GazBshore. Despite being 5 foot 9 inch Max Clayton has impressed in the air when he’s been on the pitch but hasn’t done anything to merit starting and didn’t even feature on the bench last night. Both Long and Clayton are on the bench for a reason and I can’t see them making an impact if they were started.
Change in Formation
This would be a real gamble, but with just two games remaining and no win in our last three, this is the time to be gambling. The last time Wanderers were in a slump Parkinson changed our formation to a 352 to suit the players we had available and it gave the team a new found confidence. I think if Madine isn’t available for Saturday then now would be the right time to do that again.
It really does frustrate me how poor our side looks when we’re missing such an average player. Our record without Madine has led some fans to think he should be offered a new contract at Wanderers. This is absolutely mental. I don’t slate Gary Madine, he’s just a bang average big striker doing his best but his best wasn’t good enough last season and at times still hasn’t been great this season. The reason for our poor form when he’s not been in the side is we have no replacement big striker to lump it up too and no other plan to play the game.
I do hope Gary is available for Saturday and can jam my words back in my mouth with no risk of being sent down.
How would you change the side for Saturday's game against Port Vale? Let us know in the comments.