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Five Things: Tranmere Rovers 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

Chris shares his five things from Saturdays defeat

Tranmere Rovers v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

1) Soft Centre

It is obvious that we lack bite. Crawford, Tutte and Sarcevic aren’t exactly your midfield-enforcer type. Evatt obviously thinks we don’t need one - I respectfully disagree.

Yesterday saw our midfield yet again coast through another match, unable (or incapable) of doing the dirty side of midfield play.

Jay Spearing is hardly prime Makelele, but he would comfortably be the best player in our midfield. I mean, on current form, so would Liam Trotter, but that’s an easy shot to take.

Crawford has been poor since he re-signed and whilst Tutte embodies the ‘lower league grafter’ stereotype, there can be little argument that Sarcevic has been anything but a massive disappointment since he signed for Bolton. He took his goal well but again it was a brief flicker of quality in yet another fairly anonymous performance. It would be easy to take a pot shot at his stamina but why does he only come alive with 25 minutes to go?

2) Lack of Fight. Lack of Bite

Wanderers weren’t outplayed by Tranmere but they were outfought. The aforementioned midfield trio aside, our entire team lacks bite.

Santos was our best player on the day but despite his physicality, he’s not the bite-yer-legs type of defender that say Gerry Taggart was. That’s fine in isolation but the presence of Ryan Delaney, fresh from a stint on Blackpool beach, doesn’t do him any favours either.

Most obvious was our pathetic reaction to each decision from the hilariously-named Neil Hair, who was presumably the recipient of the EFL’s “Be a Ref for the Day” campaign. Did we argue? Did we fight our corner? Nope, this was as pathetic a display of bottle as we’ve seen from a Bolton Wanderers side since the dark days of the David Wheater-led player strike, when the playing squad took the entire fanbase for mugs.

I don’t expect an Andy D’Urso style scrap but I expect our players to care and on this basis, they don’t. From the keeper to the centre forward, they all need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

3) Ian Evatt

What a strange man he appears to be. I don’t need to like my manager but I need him to step up when it counts. Evatt chose to distract the fanbase from another woeful performance by rounding on the referee. We all saw the game, Ian, we know the ref was shocking, but that’s just papering over the cracks.

Evatt flip-flops all the time. His team selection appears to be random, his post-match interviews border on the bizarre and his antics during the game smack of inexperience. I can accept being unhappy but to approach the referee was only going to end up in heartache for the man. It was naive and shouldn’t have happened.

He’s probably not under pressure yet, because he can point to a few easy excuses as to why things aren’t going the right way, but those excuses are looking thinner with each passing defeat.

4) Crap Signings

It was all Tobias Phoenix’s fault, apparently, that we were rubbish. Nothing to do with Evatt.

Well he’s been gone six weeks now, and if Jackson and Elbouzedi are the sign of things to come then I really hope that someone else comes in to advise Evatt on what makes a decent signing.

Did anyone look at our squad and think “You know what we need, someone who looks a bit like Chris Eagles, but 10,000 times worse”? That seems to be what we’ve got in the on-loan Lincoln man who, inexplicably, is keeping Arthur Gnahoua out of the team despite him being in the form of his life.

I feel bad criticising Jackson because everyone knows that left-back is where you put the kid who only plays because his dad is manager, or is the kid who owns a football so you involve him out of pity, but he has been very, very bland too.

Don’t mind Evatt having control of the purse strings but come on, we can do better than these two.

5) Mansfield Town

Change is needed. The team is drifting.

It’s probably too late to bring in signings so based on the players we have I implore Evatt to shake things up. Drop Sarcevic, drop Crawford. Bring in Thomason and start Gnahoua.

We need to get on the front foot and stop having the need to come back from a goal down. We need Doyle, Delfouneso and co to step up and take the game to the opposition, otherwise those virtual calls for Evatt’s head will get louder. After all, we don’t want to be coming back into the stadium and our first step being to see a team on their arse, because make no mistake, that’s where we’re heading.

Evatt wants to meet the Bolton fans, apparently. Well be careful what you wish for, pal.