Bolton Wanderers suffered their heaviest defeat of Phil Parkinson’s reign so far, losing 4-0 to Hull City. I was there to witness such a calamitous performance, so here are my five things to take away from the game.
1) Changing a winning formula
Tuesday’s Carabao Cup win against Sheffield Wednesday showcased the talent and drive of many players who haven’t been afforded a chance in the league so far. The likes of Derik Osede, Antonee Robinson, Mark Little and Ben Alnwick could have kept their places for the game last night. Sheff Wed are arguably a more complete team compared to Hull, so why make so many changes? Andrew Taylor and Filipe Morais were outstanding last season, but I don’t feel they can continue to play as wing backs in The Championship.
The strength of Tuesday’s win was based on how well and how quick Wanderers were able to counter attack using the pace of Robinson and Little, which The Whites clearly missed last night. Too often Taylor and Morais were caught out and Hull were able to capitalise with relative ease. Kamil Grosicki is a fantastic footballer, but when he’s made to look like Ronaldo/Bale/Messi, something isn’t right.
2) The curious case of Derik Osede
Derik is a player whom Wanderers supporters have varying opinions on. You either rate him or you don’t and then there’s the fact many fans can’t decide where his best position is. It feels like Phil Parkinson has the same problem. Derik had possibly his best game for Wanderers against Sheff Wed midweek playing in midfield, so many fans assumed last night would finally be his chance to shine in the league. As you well know, it wasn’t. Parky opted for Will Buckley, which was probably the wrong decision.
Playing Derik in the ‘Jay Spearing’ role could have given Josh Cullen and Jem Karacan the chance to push on and support Wanderers going forward. Having a holding midfielder rather than the forward thinking Buckley could have worked better when Hull were on the attack. Derik did come on for Buckley at the start of the second half, but it was too late by then.
3) The Boo boys
In my opinion, David Meyler should have seen red for an horrendous tackle on Jem Karacan, which has left the Turkish midfielder in a protective cast and now has to have an x-ray to assess the damage. Phil Parkinson opted to bring on captain Darren Pratley in his place, a decision which some Bolton fans didn’t like. To show their disdain, the aforementioned small section of Wanderers ‘fans’ decided to boo Pratley as he ran onto the field. As DownthemannyRD Tom said in his piece about Darren Pratley ; “I don’t care how bad a player is, nobody deserves that shambolic level of treatment before they’ve even had a chance to put a foot wrong.” You may not rate Darren Pratley as a footballer, but to boo him before he’s even had the chance to kick the ball is ridiculous.
4) Slow and not so steady doesn’t win the race
Much of Wanderers success last season was built on racing out of the traps and scoring early to gain control of a match. So far this season, Bolton haven’t taken the lead in a league fixture. Instead, Wanderers have started dreadfully, conceding two early goals in the games against Leeds United and Derby County, and three last night. It doesn’t matter how well Bolton play in the rest of the game, they’re already dead and buried before half time.
Yes, those three teams will probably be up fighting for a place in the top six come the end of the season, but starting that poorly against any side in this division and Wanderers will be punished. The defeat last night also means that for the fourth Championship season in a row, Wanderers are without a win in August.
5) Don’t blame Parky
Phil Parkinson has done a superb job so far at Wanderers, especially when you think about the off field issues that have lingered in the background. Parkinson took full responsibility for the result last night, citing that maybe he didn’t pick the right team. It’s too easy to jump on the mangers back when the results aren’t positive, but I’m sure the majority of fans will fully support Parkinson. The international break couldn’t have come at a better time for Wanderers. David Wheater and Sammy Ameobi will have fully recovered from their respective back and ankle injuries, and it also gives Parky two weeks to figure out how Wanderers should line up against Middlesbrough.