Every time Bolton Wanderers go into a match against Hull City, I find myself writing “the opponents’ danger man will be Kamil Grosicki.” To my bewilderment, in every in-game feed or post-match article I subsequently write, the Polish winger duly rips us apart.
The first time this happened was during last season’s visit to Hull in August 2017, ahead of which I wrote “Grosicki will rip us apart.” Phil Parkinson clearly wasn’t aware of the wide man’s threat, put no specific focus on him and he assisted two goals and scored one within half an hour as Hull won 4-0.
Fast forward 16 months to yesterday’s visit to Hull. I again wrote “Grosicki will be their main threat,” Parky was obviously blissfully unaware and didn’t learn the lesson of last season, and the Pole scored twice and assisted one as Hull inflicted an even more humiliating rout.
Wanderers actually came into the New Year’s Day clash with a little optimism, after a Boxing Day win over Rotherham United was followed up by an encouraging 0-0 draw with Stoke City. But, having gone 10 games without an away win, they were always going to be up against it as they visited a site that had collected 16 of their 33 points this season in December alone.
It was clear to see the confidence flowing through the Hull side as they immediately went onto the front foot and dominated the first half. But the manner in which they eventually romped to victory was pretty staggering and extremely worrying.
Bolton had a half chance early on, but Clayton Donaldson’s odd, dreadfully executed overhead kick attempt typified a player that is incapable of scoring goals.
But Grosicki got things rolling for the hosts on half an hour. Jonathan Grounds somehow managed to get beaten by Jarrod Bowen even though the striker fell over the ball, allowed him to cross to Grosicki, who fired home after his initial shot had been blocked by Mark Beevers.
Bolton had opportunities to get back level before the break, with Sammy Ameobi shooting wide, Beevers heading wide, then Donaldson missing a gilt-edged chance from close range - which takes him to 31 appearances without a goal. Yet he’s somehow started four games in a row. Mind boggling.
Bolton had been dominated in the first half, but the missed opportunities - four shots, none on target - should have offered a little hope. But any that had been offered was swiftly forgotten.
On the hour mark Grosicki picked out Evandro in acres of space in Bolton’s box, and the Brazilian midfielder slammed home to double the lead. And Bolton duly dropped their defences.
A minute later, Grosicki added his second. Picking up the ball 40 yards out he ambled forward, none of four Bolton defenders bothered to put pressure on him and he duly curled the ball into the bottom corner with ease.
Four minutes later, the Pole was involved in the fourth goal too. The ball was passed into him just inside the Bolton box and a neat little flick to Jon Toral saw the substitute roll the ball into the path of Chris Martin to steer home his first Hull goal.
Grosicki nearly had a second assist as his neat outside of the foot cross offered up an open goal to Martin, who somehow managed to hit the bar from four yards out. The rebound forced a good save out of Ben Alnwick, which fell to Toral whose bouncing shot was headed off the line before Beevers could eventually hoof clear.
Hull soon did add a fifth as in-form striker Jarrod Bowen was picked out in acres of space, cut inside and notched the ball nicely into the far corner for his 11th goal of the season. And the rout was completed as Toral floated a free-kick in from the right and de Wijs headed across the box for Nouha Dicko to nod in from close range.
Not only did Bolton leak six goals - for the first time since March 2016 at Bristol City - with concerning ease, they also yet again failed to have a single shot on target. We’ve long bemoaned a lack of creativity in the Bolton side, but we actually did have chances at Hull, none better than the absolute sitter presented to Donaldson with the score at 1-0.
Equally worrying, Hull could have scored 8, 9 or 10 goals had it not been for a series of saves by birthday boy Alnwick. Hull managed to rack up 20 shots, of which 10 were on target.
This was a performance that not only put the victory over Rotherham into distant memory, it also offered a reminder of the huge task that Parkinson has on his tasks to keep us in The Championship this season. Rotherham managed to bounce back with a home win over Preston, which swiftly plunges Bolton back into the relegation zone, 3 points behind Rotherham with a now vastly inferior goal difference.
There’s a break from the league next as we host League One side Walsall in the FA Cup, and it remains to be seen whether there’s any opportunity to strengthen the squad during the January Transfer Window. On the basis of this performance, we desperately need it.