Wanderers for the first time in their history have gone four home games without scoring while losing them all. Do we look like ever scoring again? Read on to see my view on that, but I recommend a strong drink first.
1. Costly defensive lapses
Lets get this out of the way now. Swansea City were not very good. They tried to play nice passing football but lacked the quality to do it, when hunted down in packs this showed and they were loose. Throughout the game they showed little to no signs of scoring and I do not recall Ben Alnwick making a save.
That makes the horrendous defensive showing in the lead up to their goal all the more irritating.
First you have Will Buckley putting his hands on the Swansea players shoulders out wide. It was never a foul, but when you put your hands on an attacker around the box you invite them to go down. That makes the referee make a decision and unfortunately that might not be the right call. So, Buckley must take a portion of blame.
That free kick comes to nothing but does lead to a corner. Said corner is ‘cleared’ by someone with probably one of the most pitiful attempted clearances in the history of football. That drops to a Swansea player in a laughable amount of space, anyone hear of marking or closing the player down? No? Oh dear.
The player is left in acres of space and as soon as he hit it you could see it was in the top corner.
This was not the only time in the game that Bolton’s clearances left a lot to be desired. Better teams will punish those moments more than once in a game.
If we are not scoring many goals, because we can’t, then we cannot be gifting the opponent goals because that is points gone in a instant.
2. Zero cutting edge
There were spells when Bolton were passing the ball around very neatly with Erthun Oztumer and Joe Williams at the heart of that. There were moments where Williams in particular drove forward wonderfully.
The problem is, there was no cutting edge at these moments. There was no killer ball or pin point cross into the box.
There are some serious question marks over whether we have a real goal scorer in our squad at all this season. But frankly even Nicolas Anelka would have struggled to do anything with the balls played towards our front men.
3. Where are the goals going to come from?
Clayton Donaldson and Josh Magennis are not goal scorers. The latter has gone flat after his impressive start to the season.
Yanic Wildschut has gone awfully quiet after his decent return during our good start. Christian Doidge has not had the game time to get going, so cannot really be judged yet and will likely not get going until he gets said chance if at all.
I could keep going but really where are the goals going to come from?
At the start of the season we were sharing the burden and it looked like we could just about get by. Now goals have simply dried up entirely making it clear we do not have the players to share out the burden.
Sammy Ameobi maybe could be the answer?
His return shows just how much we have missed him as almost everything good Wanderers did involved the winger. The closest we came to scoring was his three or four long ranged efforts. One of these was tipped onto the bar by the goalkeeper, though may have been just too high already.
He was the man driving us forward, even at the very end of the game when he played a fantastic cross field pass to create space in the attack.
The problem is, long range shots were by far the closest we came, and these shots have a twenty to one success rate at best.
4. Hunting in packs
There were moments when Bolton closed down wonderfully and forced Swansea into mistakes. As noted above they are not that good.
Problem is, on a number of occasions we were not closing down in groups but with individuals. This meant that Swansea always had an out.
I am all for a high press against teams who want to pass it out, but this has to be done as a group. If not, players are simply wasting their time and energy.
This is something fairly simple and needs to be fixed. Push together or not at all lads.
5. We did not play badly
This may fly in the face of the above but it is true. In the most part we controlled this game and on the balance of play certainly did not deserve to lose.
The problems above mean it does not really matter at all. Without solving those, and I do not know how you solve those without some cash and a transfer window, we are not going to turn our form around.
The sad reality is that we can play football, move it around and maintain control of a game, but despite this we do not have the quality to capitalise. It is looking like another very long season at Championship level where staying up would be a massive miracle.
Probably a miracle too far for Phil Parkinson and Bolton Wanderers.