After a very poor start to the season and conceding goals regularly many Bolton fans, myself included, are desperately coming up with reasons to explain why. We all wanted Parky to change his style after the debacle at Hull City and the vast majority felt as though the changes he made against Middlesbrough were needed, if maybe a little over the top. I was very pleased to see David Wheater and Derik Osede in the side and, even though it came about due to an injury, the inclusion of Antonee Robinson also looked to be a good call. As it happened, we were outplayed and overrun at times with the team looking very disjointed due to the alterations. So what went wrong?
For me, it is down to Parky’s attitude towards football: don’t concede at all costs. This philosophy is summed up by his keenness to start with just one man, usually Gary Madine, up front whether at home or away. The thinking is that while we may not have the quality to break teams down, at least we won’t be easy to score against. While successful in League 1, it doesn’t work this way in The Championship. Teams are much better going forward and by playing this way we invite them onto us for 90 minutes without much respite. By all accounts Madine did well on Saturday, but he can’t be expected to win us games on his own when the rest of the team is set up so negatively. In my opinion, we would be much better suited throwing caution to the wind and giving it a go instead.
Let’s look at the stats: so far this season we have conceded 13 goals in 6 games. This is the same defence that conceded only 36 overall the season before. Obviously there is a huge step up this year but just looking at that figure shows that what we are doing defensively right now simply isn’t working and for me it’s because we invite pressure in our current system. With 3-5-2 we were exploited down the flanks very comfortably and in the 4-2-3-1 we give teams time to break us down thus I believe we should go back to basics to try and succeed.
4-4-2 is a dying formation but there is a reason why it has been the most popular set up in football history. It allows for the best of both worlds in that there is balance in both attack and defence and Bolton’s current squad is very suited to playing this way. In the other two formations we use wingers as wing backs and don’t make use of the strikers we have. 4-4-2 would give us the licence to utilise these player properly and even though we might get the odd hammering we would certainly cause teams problems.
Bolton don’t have the best players in this league by some stretch but in order to build we have to stay up. If things stay the same we are going down and there is no question about that. Something needs to change to get results and if Parky has to abandon his philosophy in order for us to stay up then so be it. We were built on a solid foundation last year, this year it won’t be enough. So let’s go out there and frighten some people just like the good old days. COYWM