Griffin Park is becoming a bit of a bogey ground, so it’s just as well Brentford are moving a mile down the road in the next 12 months or so. A great place for a pint and burger beforehand but what followed was a dour game if you were a Wanderers fan. So let’s get into it.
Youth, a double edged sword. This game highlighted the pro’s and con’s of Premiership club prospects being used to fill out our first team squad. Robinson is steadily improving to become our first choice left back, putting in a couple of MOTM displays over the last month or so. However his inexperience cost us the first goal and probably the game last Saturday. After containing a superior Brentford for most of the first half, a sloppy and avoidable goal meant we went in at half time 1-0 down. Robinson lamely headed a Brentford cross back to an unmarked Vibe in the penalty area. Vibe then skipped past two really poor follow up challenges from Ameobi and Robinson to pass to Jozefzoon to score an admittedly good goal. Meanwhile throughout his time on the pitch, Charsley was bounced around the Brentford midfield. To be fair to him, he’s not the first youngster to be shown as lightweight nor will he be the last. The newly arrived Charsley actually did okay, particularly as it was his first senior game in the Championship. However, what we needed was some experience in the number 10 role, in order to make better use of Madine. In earlier games we’ve been undone by an inexperienced Burke and Cullen. Both these players have since come good, but can Bolton really afford the points lost whilst these guys find their feet? I guess we will find out at the end of the season.
Absent midfield. Our middle three were completely outclassed by Brentford. Vela just went AWOL. Derik put in some good tackles and despite stats stating he had the best pass rate, seemed to have a habit of doing mispasses at the worst possible moment. Charsley was as discussed above. The undeniable and simple fact is that we need that experienced midfield anchor in there. The sooner Henry gets back the better.
Transfer speculation distraction. The Vela transfer rumours have been going some time now, having started prior to the window opening and he apparently has 3 or 4 clubs watching him. Obviously the big news though prior to last weekends game was all about Madine. Reports of two separate million pound plus offers having been made, allegedly from Cardiff and Hull, with unconfirmed rumours abounding that Madine wanted out or was about to be sold. Obviously Kenneth and particularly Parky had been in full denial mode but us fans had heard that before with Clough. I thought Madine looked a bit subdued coming off the bus whilst Vela seemed focused and up for the game. The thing is that it is easy to attach a view that has been coloured by media speculation. During the match itself it has to be said that Madine put himself about as normal whereas Vela was nowhere to be seen. Transfer speculation must get to players and it is something we don’t need whilst fighting relegation, but as to what impact it actually has had on Madine and Vela during that game is difficult to say.
Is quality an unneeded myth? Bolton quite obviously have a workmanlike direct style that befits the players at Parky’s disposal. Brentford passed the ball around beautifully and showed they were a class above Bolton. However, until that defensive mistake in the fortieth minute, Bolton had contained Brentford and indeed had had the better chances. However, class told with Brentford scoring from 2 of our 3 mistakes. At the other end Madine and Beevers didn’t take either of two chances offered. For me, quality counts and Bolton need more of it.
Bookings are a worry. We collected another five yellow cards on Saturday. With the 10 yellow card amnesty not until mid March you do worry that our small squad will be hampered further by what is now two match suspensions. We were admittedly not helped by one sided refereeing on Saturday but Parky really needs to work on team discipline. We just cannot afford mass suspensions when the season gets to squeaky bum time in March.