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Five Things: Bolton Wanderers 2-3 Crewe Alexandra

Liam shares his five things that stood out from Wanderers’ FA Cup exit

Bolton Wanderers v Crewe Alexandra - FA Cup First Round Photo by Kevin Barnes - CameraSport via Getty Images

Nathan Delfouneso

I felt it would be appropriate to start with a positive from Saturday’s game and I think it’s time we started to appreciate just how important Nathan Delfouneso has become at Bolton. Delfouneso has real pace, intelligence and he knows where the back of the net is. His first goal on Saturday was a real beauty cutting onto his left foot and then bending the ball past the helpless Will Jääskeläinen and his second showed his football intelligence, steering the ball home from close range to give Bolton hope. He was in the right place at the right time.

What I really like about Delfouneso is the variance to his game, he can go past players with an ease unrivalled by anyone in our squad. Along with that, he can link the play up or he can play on the shoulder if required. Personally I would like to see him operate as a left forward in a 4-3-3 with Doyle and Isgrove at some point, I think that has potential.

Billy Crellin

Most that can be said about Crellin’s time at Bolton so far has already been said. I have no interest in making what I am sure is already a difficult time for the goalkeeper any more difficult and I don’t think it would serve any purpose.

I do think he needs protecting and this has gone on long enough. He would be best served by some time out of the spotlight by being taken out of the team. I won’t pretend to be any sort of expert on the mind of a professional sportsman and I’m sure Bolton know their player but I think the time has come to give Crellin some time away, for his own good.

Focus on the League

It’s actually quite disappointing to have exited every cup competition at the first stage this season. It’s been a while since we put anything resembling a cup run together and whilst I’m not saying that we should be turning over opposition in higher divisions than us every time we play them, some sort of progress in one of the cups would have been great, even if we weren’t able to attend the games.

There is of course opportunity in everything for those willing to look and In a congested season, the cup eliminations do provide a bit respite for Wanderers. The Trotters have had a rather punishing schedule of late & I imagine Ian Evatt and his staff will relish the 6 days available to plan for their home game against local rivals Salford City, live on Sky Sports.

Reducing Expectations

A lot of the talk around Bolton of late has been around the interpretation of pre-season expectations against how the first 2/3 months have played out. I think however you interpreted the language around the club prior to the start of the season, the clubs start has not met even the more pessimistic expectations.

I appreciate that building something new can take time and there can often be a number of problems that need ironing out, much like a snag list on a new-build house, but I think what we want to see as fans is these problems being dealt with.

For me, the key issues are at the moment, the goalkeeper, the left hand side and a real presence at the top end of the pitch. Bolton may have a different idea as to what they believe the problems to be, either way they need addressing & addressing fast.

The Big Man

For me, it just doesn’t look right without having a target man in a Wanderers shirt. I imagine some reading this will roll their eyes and think that this sort of thinking is what holds us back but I simply can’t understand why we wouldn’t want a big strong forward presence in our squad. I look at players like Sarcevic and Delfouneso and I can’t help but think how much they would love someone they could bounce the ball off and attack the penalty area with or how many of those Kioso or Crawford crosses would be converted with a 6ft 4 angry forward charging in?

Even Doyle, someone he could pivot round and it would reduce the responsibility for him to HAVE to stay in front of sticks. I’m not saying we should abandon our game for long ball before you start, I’m just saying, would it hurt to have both – afterall, there’s room in the Liverpool squad for Divock Origi (the best club side in the world) & there’s a place in the team for a 34 year-old Olivier Giroud in the France team (the best national side in the world).