Wanderers slipped to their second home defeat in row to a Hull City side who had not only lost their last 5 away from home but had also not won away at Bolton since 1935. Frazier Campbell’s 7th minute goal separated the teams in a game short on quality in the final third from both sides.
The game saw a lot of criticism directed towards Bolton manager, Phil Parkinson, though a lot of the blame for this defeat must be aimed at the players too.
Here are my Five Things after this result:
Same Old Story
This match followed a similar pattern to the 1-0 home defeat against Blackburn before the international break. Wanderers conceded a sloppy early goal and simply couldn’t fashion a good enough chance for the rest of the game from which to score despite having the majority of the play. Though there were more clear-cut openings on this occasion for the Whites, their lack of finishing quality was their Achilles Heel. Clayton Donaldson missed two presentable opportunities and Erhun Oztumer missed a great chance in the second half. We don’t create all that much, rightly or wrongly, so must be ruthless when we do. Though Hull were wasteful they scored their best chance. If we are to survive we must kick this habit.
A team with fans constantly on their back naturally plays within themselves. I understand the fans frustration at poor performances, but players are human and pressure does affect them. However, this is exacerbated by conceding early goals, especially at home where fans are more numerous, which kills any confidence to play the kind of football we want to see stone dead. Allowing Campbell’s goal to happen was totally our fault. It was statuesque from the centre-halves, our wing-back was nowhere to be seen and the goalkeeper could have done better. The only way Bolton are going to be able to play freely is if they keep themselves in matches from the outset and throughout. Chasing the game breeds panic and this is a huge reason why we lost this match.
I agreed wholeheartedly with Parky’s decision to match Hull’s 3-5-2 formation but unfortunately it was with this decision that the game was lost. Pawel Olkowski was not his usual swashbuckling self, looking very off the pace and Lloyd Dyer couldn’t get into the game going forward and forfeited all of his defensive duties. While I struggle to think of who could have played on the left-hand side in this formation and done a better job, I think Mark Little would have been a sensible player to have replaced Pawel. Little thrives in this role whilst his replacement looked very uncomfortable. Hopefully we will have seen the last of this system until we meet another side that plays it but when those matches arise we must ensure the most suited players are picked and certain of their roles. There was a clear imbalance in this game that ultimately cost us.
The Striking Conundrum
Clayton Donaldson and Christian Doidge partnered one another in this game and it looked as though the partnership had promise. Nevertheless, Donaldson’s industry and link up play pails into insignificance when you consider that he missed two of our best opportunities, chances you feel Doidge would have taken. The Welshman is not without blame however, as his role seemed to be that of target man for much of the game, a role which he did not seem comfortable with and neutered his ability to find goalscoring positions. Josh Magennis came on, strangely, in a wing-back role and looked dangerous at times but was given less than 15 minutes to do something. It is difficult to see Bolton play four in defence with two strikers with any degree of success, but it is also challenging to decide who most deserves to play as the lone striker as well. Doidge edges it for me based on goal threat alone but without a drastic change of style I fail to see how we could best use him. Parky either needs to get the best out of Magennis again or change his system to accommodate his only natural finisher. Either way it’s a risk.
Should he stay, or should he go?
I am a Parky fan and will remain a Parky fan until he leaves this club. No matter what people say they are insane if they don’t agree he has done a fantastic job with Bolton Wanderers in his two years in charge. He has met his two job remits in two years. He has been our most successful manager since Sam Allardyce. I have had some of the best times of my life under his tenure. Anyone who claims we should have done any better over the last two years has no understanding of football nor finance. That being said, this year I think we could be doing better. This year I don’t think he is meeting his job remit. This is the first time I have questioned whether I think he could be doing his job better. I am certain there is more to be gotten out of these players and at the moment Parky looks to have lost them. I don’t think he should be sacked (we most likely can’t afford to sack him) but at some stage I hope he has the class to say that the job is beyond him if it continues to get worse. Whatever happens, I want his legacy to be remembered positively as he deserves nothing less than that.