Following Saturday’s drubbing away at the hands of Middlesbrough, Bolton Wanderers find themselves in an all too familiar position, which should provide a much needed wake-up call for the squad.
It took just seven minutes for the floodgates to open, with goals from Diego Fabbrini, and Kike’s brace for the usual despair to replace early season optimism.
When the fixtures for the new season were released, thoughts switched to the tough start Bolton would have to overcome, so hopefully this will be a steep learning curve for the players of this beleaguered football club.
Manager Neil Lennon accepted full responsibility for the defeat, stating that he had got his tactics wrong in the build-up to the match, starting with a three-man defence of Dorian Dervite, Prince Desir-Gouano and Rob Holding, with Emile Heskey up-front on his own.
Not many supporters would have duly expected much from the Teesside trip – but it was the manner of the performance which ultimately frustrated the travelling contingent.
But there seems to be a wider problem, with the Trotters having failed to find the net in all three of their games to date in league and cup, there is a worrying sense amongst supporters that things need to change at the Macron Stadium, sooner rather than later – or the promising work started by Lennon could swiftly be overlooked.
With no player yet to register a goal to their name – that could be seen as an alarming statistic, which Lennon will want erased, but when you can’t record a clear cut effort on goal, then it becomes less surprising.
In my opinion, only two out of the eleven who started the game at Boro, goalkeeper Ben Amos, and veteran Emile Heskey – are the only two senior players who deserve any credit, and can walk of that pitch knowing that they had done their jobs.
With games coming thick and fast in the second-tier, certain members of the playing staff must get their act together, and quickly – we don’t want yet another relegation scrap this year, do we?
Admittedly, Lennon’s hands are tied, given the financial plight we see ourselves in, with funds soon to be made available from the sale of American centre-back, Tim Ream.
Ream, who has won the club’s Player of the Year award for the previous two-years, will be a void which will need to be filled.
Hopefully, the money we gain from the Ream transfer could be reinvested, with reports in the Bolton News suggesting that two unnamed players are set to sign this week, providing the Wanderers faithful with a timely boost.
However, despite the poor showing in the first half of the game, let’s try to look at some positives – the second 45 minutes provided Bolton with some hope going forward into the near future, as Lennon reverted back to a style which had served him well the previous weekend.
Zach Clough, who entered the fray as a half-time substitute, looked lively, as Wanderers registered just the one shot at Dimi Konstantopoulos’ goal – but by then the damage had been done.
Young defender Rob Holding – who was making his league bow for the club, can also hold his head high, after a mature performance when he moved to right-back, following a tricky start.
We can only hope that the defeat on Saturday will not spiral out of control, and that results start picking up.
I know it is early days in the season, but this performance on a sun-kissed day in the North East was worrying on the eye – and although it was against a side who are deservedly tipped for promotion, Bolton can’t afford to have more games like this one, or else it could turn out to be yet another season of struggle.
A good result against the newly-promoted MK Dons will provide Wanderers with momentum for the visit of Nottingham Forest – which will see Dougie Freedman make a hostile return to the club he parted with last October