Smiles are hard to come by these days at Bolton and it’s a difficult watch for everyone associated with our wonderful football club. I suppose on the balance of play the game was pretty even, settled only by Barry McKay’s 15th minute screamer into the top corner, yet Bolton slumped to another all too familiar defeat in all too familiar fashion. Phil Parkinson was visibly drained at the final whistle, as the week’s preparations failed to bear fruit once again.
Personally, I’m struggling to determine whether that was a decent performance or a lacklustre display. After a defeat, it lends itself to say we played poorly but I’m not sure there was too much between the sides. I do feel Swansea could have upped their game if we had nicked an equaliser, but the early goal quelled their need to push forward, giving us a bit more possession. On a more positive note, we pushed our ‘attempts on goal’ tally into double figures but that final killer ball still eludes us.
There were players who didn’t have a particularly bad game, but equally neither shone or took the game to Swansea, Others were bang average and the game passed them by. The return of Sammy showed glimpses of what we have missed but pinning all of our hopes on a player lacking match fitness just shows how desperate we have become for a little creativity. That said, his return could provide us with that spark we’ve been missing and give our confidence a much needed boost. Here’s hoping.
With no one particularly standing head and shoulders above the rest, I’m going to opt for Joe Williams in the heart of our midfield as the man of the match. His energy and willingness to go forward with the ball, put himself about and retain possession, at least gave us something to build on in the middle of the park.
Some decent balls into Donaldson and our wide men early on, linking with Ozzie and bridging the gap was a step up from previous games. I thought he was unlucky with his booking as he got the ball (then the man…) with a strong challenge, but at least he was putting his foot in and trying to influence the game.
He’s had his critics this season, but his performances of late have been much improved. He will get better and even if things are not going our way at the moment, 100% effort is a must and he is certainly giving that on a consistent basis.
I thought Mark Beevers and Jack Hobbs looked pretty solid at the back and limited Oli McBurnie to very few chances, but it’s at the other end where we just do not look dangerous going forward. Whether it’s a lack of pace or a lack of ideas, it’s just not clicking and Donaldson looked so isolated at times, coming out wide for the ball, leaving no one in the box. Bringing Josh Magennis and Christian Doidge on in the second half did little to create any real threat.
So where do we go from here? Well there’s a question to be asked and a decision to be made. I don’t want to see Parky go, due mainly to the fact he’s been through all this shit with us and it’s like we’re abandoning one of our own, but equally, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore our poor points return and our current league position.
I don’t think anyone is working harder than him to change things around but to see all that effort go to waste and not dig out the result you want, must be soul destroying. After the game on Saturday it looked as though he was a man in need of a hug. Does he still want the job? I’m not too sure. But the weight of this disastrous run is lumped solely on his shoulders and that does not sit right with me.
Onwards and upwards as they say