Any positivity to take from last Saturday’s draw with Millwall evaporated completely at Hillsborough as Wanderers failed to take any points off a very poor Sheffield Wednesday side without a win in six.
The home side scored ten minutes into the second half through captain Tom Lees from a corner, a soft goal to concede to a side who had produced very little until that point. Yet again the negative mindset of the players ensured that creativity was stifled despite the opposition being there for the taking.
It was a hugely disappointing performance and one feels that the slide we find ourselves on is becoming near impossible to arrest.
Here are my player ratings:
Ben Alnwick 5.5
Had nothing of note to do apart from collect the majority of Wednesday’s crosses into the box but I feel he could have done better for the goal, as the header seemingly went through him. It must be said his defence did little to help him, but it was a save I, personally, would expect him to make. The biggest issue, however, is his distribution and this is nothing new for Alnwick. The accuracy of his kicks isn’t great and perhaps this explains why he is so against quickly restarting play. Any chance of a counter-attack is halted by Alnwick taking usually ten seconds to decide what to do. One thing that was impressive about Remi Matthews was his quick thinking with the ball in hand and I for one wouldn’t be against recalling him. Something needs to change so why not this?
Pawel Olkowski 6.5
Solid defensively and willing going forward, Pawel had a decent game. He doesn’t, however, seem to have any confidence whatsoever when trying to beat a man, something he did with ease in the early part of the season. He clearly has ability but the negativity surrounding him appears to be infectious as he appears much less cavalier than before. I may have criticised it in the past but, as the old saying goes, you don’t know what you have until it is gone.
Jack Hobbs 6.5
Didn’t have much to do in a game played mainly in midfield. Personally, I prefer it when he plays alongside Wheater but the fact nothing Hobbs did sticks out in my mind probably means he did a decent enough job. Our problems in this game did not stem from an inability to defend.
Mark Beevers 6
Very similar to Hobbs in that he did nothing of note whether it be for good or bad. He was, however, culpable of being very wasteful in possession and while his favouring of “hoofing” the ball forward has become a terrace joke, it does wear thin when it plays into the opposition’s hands.
Andy Taylor 6
I miss Antonee Robinson so much it hurts. Taylor is by far the better defender and probably a better technical footballer, but my word is he slow. I have seen roadkill with faster reflexes. A left-hand side with both Robbo and Yanic Wildschut would be terrifyingly pacy but often the reason the Dutch winger could get into the game was because Taylor was incapable of supporting him. This is something that needs addressing in January.
Mark Wilson 6
Had a good first half where he was neat in possession and won his challenges both in the air and on the floor. In the second half I don’t remember him touching the ball. It sets our stall out to the opposition when they see him in midfield, openly demonstrating our negativity as while Wilson is a tidy player, he doesn’t do anything remotely incisive or creative. He should only be used in this role with two more attack-minded players either side.
Jason Lowe 5
Couldn’t get into the game on the ball and didn’t do much “screening” in defence. I like Lowe for what he is i.e. a ball-winner but in a midfield three he is asked to go forward and frankly he can’t do it. If he stays in the team, he, like Wilson, has to be flanked by players with more flair.
Joe Williams 7
He was the best of a bad bunch for sheer endeavour alone. Williams has ability and can make things happen, but too often his over-exuberance means the execution is not always great. He certainly looks capable of playing in this more attacking role but needs to temper his enthusiasm to be more effective.
Sammy Ameobi 5.5
He had two reasonable long-range efforts and that was it. He isn’t as one dimensional as people think but, in this match, only showed one side of his game. We desperately need him to perform well if we are to win matches but recently, he hasn’t been on his game. He will undoubtedly start against Wigan and, if we are to win, we need to see more of him.
Yanic Wildschut 6.5
When he gets the ball and runs with it, he terrifies defenders. The issue is we don’t give him the ball often enough and he usually has no one to pass to after beating a couple of players. However, I am willing to bet anyone that if he starts at least 15 more matches this season we will stay up because he is dangerous, quick and skilful. Personally, I think it’s a gamble we have to take.
Josh Magennis 5
Where is the Super Josh of August/September that we fell in love with? The formation doesn’t suit him, he always looks isolated and he is almost never in the box. Some clown next to me at the game called him “fat and lazy” and while I didn’t think he worked as hard as usual those are both ludicrous accusations. He needs to up his game, certainly, but he isn’t being helped by his teammates it must be said.
Christian Doidge 6
Has to start this weekend for me as at least he finds himself in goalscoring positions. He set up Donaldson’s chance (more on that to come) with a neat pass and held the ball up well at times. However, given how little was created in this game he never came close to scoring.
Clayton Donaldson 4
Now, let me just state for the record that Donaldson is a useful player with good experience and pace. However, that miss late in the game made me so angry I almost left the ground right there and then. It was comically bad. Anyone who doesn’t support Bolton should watch it for comic relief. He’s a striker who just can’t score at the moment.
Will Buckley N/A
Didn’t notice him after he came on.
Phil Parkinson 5
The formation is a good one, I believe, but the personnel used render it useless. He is a good manager, a clever man and knows how to set up a team to be difficult to beat. However, he doesn’t know how to set up a team to attack. We treated Wednesday away as if it were Real Madrid away, offering almost nothing going forward. If this is to be his final game in charge, as it could well be, it will be a sad indictment of his tenure as manager. His time at the club has been a success, in my view, but right now he needs a miracle to turn the ship around.