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Outflanked Bolton need to fight their corner

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Alistair Magowan - BBC Sport | 16:37 UK time, Thursday, 15 December 2011

The moment a manager begins to openly criticise his players usually signals the beginning of the end, but it can also be a measure of the depths to which a club has already fallen.

Bolton boss Owen Coyle is widely respected, but when he highlighted his team's mistakes after the 2-1 defeat by Aston Villa last Saturday it showed a manager who wanted to provoke a response having seemingly tried everything to turn his side's fortunes around.

The 45-year-old Scot is renowned for his infectious enthusiasm, although even that must be wearing a little thin after losing 12 out of 15 Premier League games this season to leave his side bottom of the table.

Only two teams have suffered a worse start to a top-flight season, and among just nine sides to have lost 12 or more times after 15 games, only one has avoided relegation.

So with the Trotters travelling to Fulham on Saturday before a local derby of seismic proportions against fellow strugglers Blackburn the following Tuesday, it is no exaggeration to say the two games will probably decide Coyle's future.

Many observers have noted that Bolton lack the firepower that Chelsea loanee Daniel Sturridge and the now departed Johan Elmander gave them last season.

However, while it is true that nine of the team's 20 goals this season came in two wins over QPR and Stoke, they are scoring at a rate that has dropped only marginally, from 1.4 goals per game last term to 1.3 this.

Bolton have conceded the most goals from crosses, corners and set-pieces this season

Their real difficulties have come in defence - the worst in the Premier League - but centre-back Gary Cahill probably already knew that. His form has mirrored Bolton's decline at their end of the pitch and, while a summer spent having his head turned by other clubs can perhaps explain some his displays, there is no such excuse for the defence overall.

"Our problem is not in scoring goals, [it's that] we're shipping too many," said Coyle after the Villa defeat. "It's not because of wonder strikes or anything else. We need to defend better."

Where Coyle's men conceded 1.5 goals a game last season, this term it has ballooned to an average of 2.4 and they are especially vulnerable to goals that originate from wide areas.

In fact, the figures make pretty grim reading. Bolton top the Premier League charts for the most goals conceded from crosses (10) - double the number of Wigan and five times more than Swansea.

They also lead the way when it comes to letting in goals from corners, and the eight they have shipped in this manner is twice as many as Blackburn or Wigan, four times the number of Wolves and eight times more than West Brom.

Over a third of the 36 goals they have conceded are from set-pieces, too, so there are clear areas where they have let themselves down.

Injuries have undoubtedly played their part, with long-term absentees Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-yong clearly missed in a thin squad.

But the way defender Sam Ricketts described Coyle's positivity this week on BBC Radio 5 live showed that despite the club's parlous state, the training ground has not been engulfed by doom and gloom.

That attitude can only extend so far, though, and the manner in which they have conceded goals does raise questions about their preparation.

Skipper Kevin Davies said that prior to the defeat by Villa the team had been working on team shape and set-pieces yet once they allowed Marc Albrighton to convert Gabriel Agbonlahor's cross and Stiliyan Petrov to fire in from 25 yards, confidence fell away.

Indeed, the way Petrov's shot clipped Cahill before finding the corner of the net almost summed up the bad fortune that seems to have settled over the Reebok Stadium.

But complaints about bad luck will not wash with Coyle, and if he is providing the framework to address the team's problems and they are still letting him down, then perhaps you can understand his frustration towards them.

Ultimately, though, he is responsible for the players he sends out. They will now need to show the "guts and desire" Coyle is looking for while improving their concentration if they are to provide any festive cheer for their fans.

Two bad results against Fulham and Blackburn and the Christmas turkey might not taste so juicy.

You can also discuss more tactical issues and follow me on Twitter


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  • Comment number 1.

    It's mainly because we put 11 men back for a corner, no matter what the situation.

    It's dire.

  • Comment number 2.

    I agree with Woody's comments, on Saturday against Villa though, we had no tackler in midfield that's where we lost the game. We had Muamba on the bench, personally a great tackler though not a great distributor, and he didn't feature. Pratley was chasing the game and M.Davies is not a tackler.For me we really missed Muamba and Reo-coker together.I fear there are problems with training techniques leading to a growing injury list. I would hate to see a Bolton legend like Owen sacked but he is making some bad decisions eg playing Wheater at right back, that is asking for trouble!

  • Comment number 3.

    Owen Coyle.

  • Comment number 4.

    Owen answer to question 'Whats gone wrong at Bolton?', he will get sack before Kean.

  • Comment number 5.

    I didn't mind that we tried to change the midfield, we had lost 12 out of 14 (before Villa) and we obviously needed to change something. Coyle calls for guts when he is constantly putting us under pressure with set-pieces.

    Never mind injuries, what about the red cards? Wheater's red against Everton (I think) was the sort of thing you expect to happen in a pre-season game!

    Against Fulham, we should start Kakuta. He made more progress with his first touches than Eagles and Mark Davies had made the rest of the game against Villa, and we have him until Jan 1st I think, so we might as well use our loan!

    About the fullbacks not being able to defend driven crosses from pacey wingers, isn't Marcos Alonso playing games for the reserves now? Robinson is a liability when he has no defensive cover, maybe we should try him?

    For everyone who thinks Coyle is a good manager, take this stat.

    Megson got sacked after Bolton 2-2 Hull? 18 games, 18 points.
    Coyle's record this season : 15 games, 9 points.

    Surely if we wanted Megson out...

  • Comment number 6.

    No-one wants Savage Says..., please bin. Thanks.

  • Comment number 7.

    No-one wants Savage Says..., please bin. Thanks.


    I'd rather have Gareth Crooks to be honest, and after his recent rant.. that's saying something!

  • Comment number 8.

    This is annoying even as a chelsea fan. Granted the team are doing badly, but aren't they missing holden and lee and have recently lost players like elmander, sturridge and wilshere? Not a bad group of players.

  • Comment number 9.

    Sturridge and Wilshere were on loan, and Elmander was terrible for two seasons, and probably contributed to our previous manager getting sacked.

    As for Holden and Lee, that is two players, and we bought a short term replacement for Holden in Reo-Coker (two year contract) and we got Eagles. We should be better than bottom of the table because we are missing two players.

  • Comment number 10.

    Should have sold Cahill when they were getting offers and bought a willing replacement, now he can leave for free in the summer and his head is well and truly turned.

  • Comment number 11.

    Whats gone wrong at the Reebok , can be traced back to last season. Owen Coyle has improved the football since he came,with Lee and Holden having outstanding seasons last year. Both are missed with long term injuries,and their energy has been missed. We have been defensively leaky for a couple of seasons, the best performance defensively last year was when Gary Cahill had a long term abscence with a blood infection. Zat Knight and Wheater formed a decent partnership and up until the FA Cup Semi Final we kept a number of clean sheets. The full back positions have been a problem for a couple of years, ageing players who are now past their best, the heart is willing but the legs have gone. With Eagles, Petrov and or Pratley replacing Holden and Lee, we have lost penetration going forward and opened the door for teams to attack our back four.
    My biggest beef with Coyle is that he continually drags 10 outfield players back for corners and set pieces, for a team with no real pace, that means we will have to pass our way 90 yards upfield or more often than not lose the ball and have extended periods of pressure from the opposition. This year every mistake has been punished, and there have been plenty of them. On a bright note Joe Riley came in as 20 year old full back against Stoke, was in the top three best players on the pitch, but alas hasnt been seen since because of injury. Our strengths have been hard working players who squeeze the opposition for space, and a stable defence with a good keeper. For this year read players who are not working hard enough, aging defence with no leadership, and our keeper has had a bad patch. Can it can any worse , yes we can and probably will be relagated, because other teams around us have more desire and work harder to stay in the Premier League. The only hope I have is that come January, Holden and Lee return with Ricketts ,Riley, Steinnson in defence and we up our workrate. A plus this year has been Klasnic goals, without him we would be toothless. Its time for players to play for the shirt, the fans and the club, to date the fans have stayed with the team , and largely understand the problems Coyle has. The time has come for the manager and players to payback the club and fans, start at Fulham on Saturday a 0-0 draw would do me, and show some fight against Rovers. Gary Cahill is a fine footballer, but he is not a leader of a defence, and just maybe a less talented centre half will firm up the defence in January when he leaves.

  • Comment number 12.

    In the Gary Cahill Infographic, Clearence should be Clearance, Ariel should be Aerial and Suels should be Duels

  • Comment number 13.

    Last season Bolton ended the season scoring an average of 1.37 goals per game, conceding 1.47 per game.

    This season, they've scored 1.33 per game, but conceded a whopping 2.4 per game.

    You're never going to stay up by conceding almost two and a half goals every game. I've been dismayed at the lack of quality of Cahill's performances this season, which I guess the stats above illustrate.

    It;s not just Cahill's fault though. Paul Robinson has started 14 games as well this season, and he's not an EPL standard defender these days. Combine that with the sporadic Zat Knight and the unproven David Wheater, and there's your recipe for Bolton's poor defensive record.

    To be fair though, Coyle has never focussed on defence anyway. His game would be outscoring his opponents rather than shutting them out, which with all due respect you're not going to do with Kevin Davies up front.

    So it was clearly a big loss when Sturridge and Elmander left in the summer, but it's their poor defensive record that will take them down in my opinion.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm sure McNulty posted a blog last season saying how Bolton were putting it about like Real Madrid.

    I've always loathed how Bolton play and will be glad when they drop out of the PL. I'd much rather watch Norwich, Swansea or Wolves.

    With any luck Stoke will follow them next season.

  • Comment number 15.

    Forgot how fantastic Norwich and Wolves playe...

    O wait.

  • Comment number 16.

    I assumed this was the impressionist.

  • Comment number 17.

    Really enjoy this blog, along with Tim Vickery's, they are the only two with any real insight actually worth reading.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 18.

    no offence to Bolton fans but im sure most fans of smaller non premiership clubs like myself will be laughing at Gartside should they get relegated

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 21.

    It's hillarious listening to the same BWFC supporters who 12 months ago thought Coyle was the greatest tactician in football when he did the dirty and walked out on Burnley to join them and now don't have a good word to say about him. If ever there was a case of be careful what you wish for.

  • Comment number 22.

    I think Coyle can do the job, he will just need to sure up his defence witha couple of new players in the transfer window.

    I must admit though, your always going to be in trouble when Robinson is a starting memeber of your back 4! Such a poor player!

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm at a loss as to why we are so bad this season, especially in defence. I'm also suprised that we left it until the week before the Villa game to work on set piece defending in training.

    Don't like the blaming of the players publicly either when a lot of the responsibility is the managers. He bought a lot of them, trains them, picks them, sets them up and substitutes them.

    Injuries aside, we should be doing far better.

    If we aren't going to change our fortunes before Christmas I doubt they will change with the tough January fixtures.

    2 wins from the next 3 are what Owen Coyle has to deliver or we should look elsewhere and I've already extended patience with him once.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    24. At 21:55 15th Dec 2011, telnolies wrote:
    Lancashire have been over-represented in the EPL for years, whereas Yorkshire next door have no teams at all. Get rid of the likes of one-cow towns like Bolton, Blackburn and Wigan and promote Leeds back up, be better for everybody and save players and fans having to go by horse and cart to these 19th century xxxx-tips!

    Don't be silly. Lancashire clubs have earned their place in the PL on merit and merit alone, whereas Leeds and other Yorkshire clubs aren't good enough for the PL at this stage. You're also forgetting that Blackburn and Bolton have both spent more seasons in the top division in their history than Leeds have.
    Geography has nothing to do with it.

  • Comment number 26.

    Wow, this blog post was really interesting. Thanks. I always thought that Bolton were being rubbish because they can't score. But it's not that, they can't stop others from scoring either. This is a recipe for disaster and that is why I am sure that they are simply relegation fodder.

    P.S. I am trying to recreate the old football 606 at

  • Comment number 27.

    The reason Bolton wanted Megson out was because he was clearly taking the club nowhere and he was always so negative. Owen Coyle still has the potential to take the club further and he's got a great attitude, always finds the positives whenever he can. If he was sacked there isn't really a better manager we could afford on our budget.
    Coyle has been incredibly unlucky, the amount of injuries we've had is ridiculous, Holden and Chungy are probably our two best players and they've both picked up long-term injuries! And some of the red cards that have been dealt out this season have been very harsh.
    I would agree that the defence needs sorting though, especially the full backs. Joe Riley looks very promising but Robinson gets beaten by the winger every time, it's about time Marcos Alonso was given a chance in the league.

  • Comment number 28.

    There is a simple reason for why Bolton are bottom lack of investment has resulted i a poor team. When did Bolton last sped 5 miil plus on a player?

  • Comment number 29.

    I do hope Gary Cahill comes to Manchester United...

    Lovely defender who loves to defend, exactly what you want him to do!!!....

    Getting let down by the rest of the clowns around him... And Owen Coyle is a great attacking manager who plays football with great attacking threat always, but like at Burnley his defending coaches and coaching has let him down at the highest level.

    Very Unfortunate!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    It's hillarious listening to the same BWFC supporters who 12 months ago thought Coyle was the greatest tactician in football when he did the dirty and walked out on Burnley to join them and now don't have a good word to say about him. If ever there was a case of be careful what you wish for.


    Don't tar everyone with the same brush. I never really wanted him when we signed him as at Burnley he had lost the last 8 games there before coming to us.

    He had a good year with us and we are becoming the side we once were but we seem to have just collasped terribly.

  • Comment number 31.

    It makes me laugh that so many people have slated Gary cahill this season. He is clearly the best defender Bolton have and has been for the last few years.

    he has been excellent for England and never let us down at all, maybe people should realise he can't do it all by himself and needs some people around him who can actually defend!!!

    without spending a few quid on players in January, Bolton are going down!

  • Comment number 32.

    eeesm - excellent article,however-Cahil's blood clot was in the 09/10 season around feb time,wheater wasnt here then.Knight at that time did forge a semi-decent partnership with Ricketts at centre half and yes we had some clean sheets.Totally agree with you on Cahil's lack of leadership, a good footballing centre half he is , a man in the trenches and one to get others backs up he isnt.Going to be a long hard season,without chungy and holden till at least march.

  • Comment number 33.

    I've never rated Coyle as a manager.
    I know he took a mid-table Championship club into the Premier, but so too did Phil Brown and look at the levels to which he has sunken in the last 12 months.
    He started off well at Bolton, but once they started conceding goals, like what happened at Burnley, they took a sudden nosedive. 17 defeats in 20 league games should be enough for any manager to lose his job.

  • Comment number 34.

    #6 and #7

    Agree - please bin Savage Says, it's muck

  • Comment number 35.

    Bolton have been dire this season. Gary Cahill is a very good defender, but like mentioned before, he`s not a leader and cannot do it on his own. His fellow defenders need to take more resposibility and start to consentrate a bit more.
    Owen Coyle is a good manager, and it would be a real travesty if he were sacked.
    The club need to invest in January, to sure up that leaky defense and maybe get a half decent striker to replace Elmander and i think they may survive.
    If not, then i`m afraid they`re doomed.

  • Comment number 36.

    They have a Championship side.

    Any back four which consists of Boyata, Knight and Robinson is going to struggle. Cahill does his best to hold them together but he's still very young. The keeper is excellent, but his form has been slowly diminishing over the past 12 months.

    Chris Eagles? Ok, I might be being slightly harsh because he's looked half decent whenever I've seen him this season, but he's not going to consistently win you games at this level. Mark Davies is talented, but again not at PL level. Petrov is in and out of the side. Reo-Coker is average.

    Kevin Davies has punched above his weight for a long time, and having lost Sturridge and Elmander without replacing them, the forward line is very poor. Klasnic is decent though.

    When you compare the vulnerability of this side, to how it was under Allardyce, then it looks worrying. Too many lightweight players that belong a division lower.

    I don't mind Coyle, but he's only as good as the side he has out.

  • Comment number 37.

    his main problem is that he sees nothing else other than 442.A team which consistently ships goals(at least 2 per game) cannot hope to tighten up by playing wingers(eagles and petrov/m.davies on the right)Yes he pld this formation last season but with willing widemen who came back and had a little nouse(chungy and m.taylor).So why on earth doesnt he go to a 451/433 and make you at least hard to beat , pack the mid etc.. He pld 451 at villa in cup(holden's cameo b4 inj again) we won comfortably ,451 vs the gunners (0-0 at h-t) then wheater red card changed match.But since then he's ploughed away with 442,playing his beloved Eagles game after game.Yes he is an attacking threat but defend he doesnt know and cannot do. Coyle has continually shown too much loyalty to senior players - end of last season and the horror start to this season.He's obv fallen out with Steinnson - starting wheater at r back vs toffees when steinnson was available ,this to me just sounded like anything to give Zat Knight a game - wheater shoved to full back and back comes Zat after being dropped for 4 matches of which we actually won 2 !! Could go on all day ... Yes we've had injuries , but Coyle's lack of flexibility with formation and non-understanding of defence has ultimately cost us.

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    Oops, genuine typo there, me fat fingers dont do well on these smart phones!

  • Comment number 40.

    39. At 23:41 15th Dec 2011, JohnClaretandBlue wrote:
    Oops, genuine typo there, me fat fingers dont do well on these smart phones!

    Haha, I'm only noticing that now.
    That is quite hilarious.

  • Comment number 41.


    One good reason why Yorkshire do not have premiership representation, they don't have a team good enough.

    As for Bolton, I've never been a believer in luck but for Bolton this season if it could go wrong, it has and badly at that. Holden and Lee have been massive blows for them, the balance of the team has been totally disrupted.

    Defensively Cahill is a good quality player and will be no matter where he ends up, it was a mistake to keep him at the end of the season because his mind has been somewhere else since the start of the season. He hasn't done the team any favours by being there this season. The money he would have generated would have been a massive plus for Bolton.

    Elmander up front, really only showed up last season, he was consistent for the first time at Bolton, he played for the move that everyone knew was going to happen Sturridge's loan was also a brilliant piece of business but once again it couldn't last. Those two add up to quality and a club like Bolton simply can't replace them. KD is a great player for Bolton but he's more of a foil for a strike partner than being, the main man.

    I look at most teams and think one or two players short of being decent and gauranteed safety. Bolton have looked like a 5 player short team all season and it does not look good for them.

    The only way Bolton are going to have any chance of survival, is the january window. They have no money, so they are going to be dependent on the loans. I'd be looking at Chelsea or Arsenal, maybe the lad McEachran, he definitely needs the playing time and would fit Bolton. I hope they get out of trouble, it's a great place to go for a game.

  • Comment number 42.

    @ 38

    Brilliant "typo" love it! thats cheered up my night shift!

    Back on topic....

    Agree with 37. Bolton need to change formation and play a stifling game, even just to get some confidence back. A couple of decent 0-0's or 1-1s and suddenly you start feeling like you can win games. but they need to keep it tight and stop conceding. Have been unfortunate with injuries to key players but who hasn't?!

    Man city are the only team i can think of!

  • Comment number 43.

    I watched bolton at anfield earlier this season, within 15 minutes it was obvious where the problems are, the midfield.
    bolton simply do not keep the ball, always makes me laugh when pundits go on about the importance of this big name striker, that big name defender, etc.
    You can have 4 world class defenders, but put a non effective midfield in front of them and theyll ship more goals than theyve had hot dinners.

    At anfield, until bolton brought on davies in midfield? they were static. when he got hold of the ball and started to run at the pool defence, and passed with short accurate passes around the edge of the pool box, bolton came alive.
    the wingers came into play, klasnic actually looked like a dangerous poacher and finished a half chance late on.

    everytime the ball was cleared from bolton's defence, it came straight back.
    it is no good having a good goal poacher if the ball is never in the opposition's box long enough for him to do any damage and unsettle defences.
    Coyle needs a midfield outlet for his defence, someone with a bit of zip who can hold the ball and go off on the occasional run, kevin davies receiving the ball with his back to goal 40-50 yards out is no good, factor in no pressure on the ball from the midfield when bolton's defence do finally get out of their own box and they are asking for trouble.

    Bolton have to play to their striker's strengths, unfortunately for them, their midfield appears to lack the tools to do the job.
    In Coyle's shoes, id look to pick up 2 premier experienced midfielders in jan, with a couple of good young midfield prospects on loan, giving the team more options.

  • Comment number 44.

    Coyles problems are of his own making getting rid of a top goal keeper in Al Absi, and keeping that liability Jussi, buying 2 championship players Pratley and Eagles who didnt start 50% of the games for there respective clubs last season. But his biggest problem are right and left back, he wont play Steinsson at right back nobody knows why and Robinson would struggle to keep his place in a poor Championship side, and for me his constant leaving out of Fabrice Muamba his the last straw and shows his poor defensive attitude !

  • Comment number 45.

    I`ve lived and worked in both Bolton and Leeds and i`ll tell you what, Bolton is a much more modern and cosmopolitan town than Leeds will ever be. And let`s face it, Leeds is really no more than a large town!
    As for thier respective football teams, Leeds are a joke, a laughing stock. Even thier fellow yorkshiremen hate them! And thier supporters? Well i`ll just stop there, before i get in trouble.
    Bye the way, i don`t hail from either of those towns, i`m a Manc!

  • Comment number 46.

    Defence wins championships

  • Comment number 47.

    @ 46

    rubbish! Liverpool have the best defence in the league (statistically) but they are 6th. its about having the best balance and grinding out wins when you really need them!

    Man City will find that out this year and if they develop a mean streak and grind out those 1-0 wis they will win the league as they have the best balance overall. Man Utd have done it for years, Fergie has a knack for bringing on the right subs at crucial times.

    Bolton need to develop their midfield. It is lightweight, lacks energy and loses possession too easily. If they shore up the midfield with a couple of decent loan signings then they stand a chance, other than that they are going down!

    also, the need to sell robinson and get a decent left back as he is AWFUL!

  • Comment number 48.

    coyle is a good manager who want to play positive football.but it is difficult to get result with that method especially with d type of player he has.he is a great coach.simply look what he did to wilshere n a chelsea fan i desperately want to suggest coyle to take lukaku &machachran (if possible torres also) on loan.this deal will be profitable to both clubs

  • Comment number 49.

    The problems at Bolton that I see it as the moment seem to me three main things:

    Defence: Cahill is the standout performer, but are zat knight and david wheater suitable partners? It's shocking that you have 2 6ft plus guys in defence and your team concedes loads from crosses. This just tells me that coyle / bolton need to sort out their defensive training methods, or bring in another defender with a bit more talent. Nedum onuha from city is available?
    Also robinson is starting to show his age, and I'm concerned / confused as to why steinsson is not playing games at RB anymore. He always struck as a decent defender and a player that can go forward.
    Midfield: Muamba and reo coker don't get enough games together and bolton are missing the creativity of holden. At burnley (and at bolton) coyle likes the team to spread the ball about, and needs creative players in there. It's not happening anymore, and they struggle to keep the ball. Loaning someone like mcreachan from chelsea could be a short term solution before holden comes back.
    Attack: despite the stats saying otherwise, you can't help but notice that bolton look a bit toothless up front this season. Klasnic has been given a run, and whether he's been getting the service or not, he hasn't been able to score too many. They're certainly missing elmander and sturridge. Ngog has not shown any promise. Can Bolton look to loans to solve that problem? Macheda from man utd maybe?

  • Comment number 50.

    @ Jasperino

    A Burnley fan then? or just not a fan of owen coyle? LOL
    Or a gary megson fan?

  • Comment number 51.

    It seems a good chunk of one area of England will be going to the champiionship. Wigan Bolton and Blackburn.

    At least the fever of local derbys can be looked forward to it,

  • Comment number 52.

    Fabric Muamba always looks solid when he plays, and whilst he might not be the most fluent player with the ball, he gets back and tackles well, and has a real good engine. Holden is a big miss, he's creative, scores goals and makes the whole team look a lot better.

    Regards defence, this blog only serves to highlight the obvious, that other than Cahill, they arent anywhere near good enough. Knight looks good in spells, but Wheater looks genuinely out of his depth. Two full backs are also required, who have a bit of pace about them.

    Klasnic is OK up front, but you wouldnt bank on him every week like you could with Sturridge and Elmander last season.

    Much work to be done to avoid the drop, which saddens me because ive always liked Bolton

  • Comment number 53.

    @ 24 Telnolies

    The straight talking yorkshireman obviously having a pint of black sheep concerned about the lack of "real" yorkshire clubs in the prem. Leeds have been a laughing stock for years now, talk of a big club that haven't achieved anything in last few seasons! Sheffield are in the doldrums. THe next "big" yorkshire team are Doncaster. Enough said!

  • Comment number 54.

    Once a bunch of cloggers, always a bunch of cloggers!

  • Comment number 55.

    As a Spurs fan, I have to say I thought Bolton would struggle this season, due to the lack of strikers and the long term absense of Holden and especially the excellent Lee. Without those 2 especially their midfield isn't dominating the game or keeping hold of the ball and their defence is under pressure. I was also wondering why they sold Matt Taylor (who I always thought was a decent player who could cross and score) and kept the inconsistent injury prone Petrov. I also thought none of the centre midfielders bought in were particularly good and were going to make the difference.

    I'd say their best chance of avoiding relegation is to sell Cahill for as much as they can and hope they can get a few players in return (possibly loan if necessary) instead e.g. if it's Spurs there's several that played last night that will need game time now we're out of Europe

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    @ 55

    Krancjar would be a good addition at bolton, even if it's on loan, with pienaar fit I can't see him getting too much game time.
    Petrov is a good player, like you said, I was surprised they sold the consistent taylor? Why is tuncay not playing?

  • Comment number 58.

    @57 ESG

    he seems a bit of an odd one doesnt he Tuncay, always seems to get a move to a decent club, plays one game then falls off of the radar for 6 months until injuries dictate he has to play. Perhaps hes one of those players who always plays well in the last year of his contract, then relaxes when he signs up for 3 years somewhere else

  • Comment number 59.

    @ 58 jw86

    I don't even understand it though. Sure eagles is playing quite well and klasnic and davies are their top two strikers, but ngog's done nothing, and they need a player like tuncay to do something along the lines of sturridge last season. I just don't know whether he's injured or just not liked or what? It's just bizarre he's not playing.

  • Comment number 60.

    I saw Bolton at Spurs recently and although the Cahill sending off distorted the match, the difference between the teams was the players movement. Players of both teams made some good moves with the ball but the difference was that when Spurs players did it and passed, they kept on moving. Bolton players passed and then seemed to stand off to see what was happening - maybe a sign of low confidence?
    The back four also seemed "incohesive" Centre backs played quite well but the space between them and the full backs was too great, hence the panic when Bale or Lennon got the ball. I'm afraid Robinson is not up to EPL standards!

    Lastly I remember similarities with the Spurs team of Ossie Ardiles in the 90's as there was also little protection just in front of the back four. Mr Reo Coker is too indisciplined and disruptive for my liking.

    In this day and age, I wonder how long they will give Coyle no wins by FA Cup week and he will be gone I think.

  • Comment number 61.

    @59 ESG

    He seems the same wherever he goes though. Coyle buys him in the summer then doesnt play him! But he's always struck me as inconsistent, someone who will produce a moment of undoubted quality every now and again, but then do nothing for long periods. Cant imagine has workrate is sparkling either, something Bolton need at the moment. A relegation scrap is not Tuncays ideal scenario.

  • Comment number 62.

    in reality Owen Coyle was never a great manager. He had a fanatsitic season recently, but that was not down to his managerial & tactical ability.

    This is similar to how the likes of Roy Hodgson are treated by the media, that they cant do any wrong and they think they are fantastic managers.

    Looking at Coyles games, it is clear he has very little tactical knowledge. What he brings is motivation. However, that only works if you are winning games. once you are loosing, motivation can only do so much, you need to know how to set yourself up the best way to beat the opponant in front.

  • Comment number 63.

    I'm not informed enough about Bolton and Coyle to have strong opinions but I have noticed that Cahill, in my opinion, is overrated. He may be uninterested and waiting for a move but is he just an average English centre half amongst many below average. I suppose many will disagree.

  • Comment number 64.

    @ 61 jw86

    But at stoke they hardly played "his game" and he didn't really start all too often. I'm not exactly a fan of his, but I just don't see the point of buying a player and then not playing him. Botlon are more akin to his style, and he can add a little bit of pace to the team.
    His workrate probably isn't great, but if you employ a guy like muamba to do the running and fetching, then you get some balance in the side?
    And why isn't steinson playing? It's like coyle bought mears from burnley, and i haven't seen him play once. What's hte point of buying him?

    @ 62

    He's always been a good motivator / man manager. He strikes me as being in the Fergie mould. I think tactically he's not great, but that's what your assistant and scouts are there for surely? I wouldn't call Fergie a tactical genius. He's astute and has learned to develop and transform his team, but I could reel off a huge list of games where he's made tactical blunders.

  • Comment number 65.

    @63 spot on majorly overrated

  • Comment number 66.

    We shouldn't be doing this badly though even with the injuries, the signings he made are good enough or atleast should be. Chung and Holden are clearly 2 of our best players but the replacements should atleast tide us over until they return, most fans can see what players are good enough and which ones aren't so it's a mystery how Coyle himself can't see it.
    The team without injuries would and should be -
    Mears/Steinsson, Cahill, Wheater, Ricketts
    Chung, Holden, Muamba, Petrov
    N'Gog, Klasnic
    And the team after the injuries isn't relegation quality -
    Steinsson, Cahill, Wheater, Alonso
    Eagles, Reo-Coker/Mavies, Muamba, Petrov
    Klasnic, N'Gog

    That second team is still strong enough to win games and certainly defend well when using the right tactics, what I want to know is why Coyle doesn't play his best available XI and why he is so poor when it comes to organising a defense.

    He can be a good manager and I actually still have a little bit of faith in him still, but a run like this can't go on forever because we have at most 3 games to save our season. If we don't get a win and 2 draws atleast then it's going to be nigh on impossible to survive.

  • Comment number 67.

    There must be a question as to how good a coach Coyle is defensively, or how much emphasis he puts on the defensive side of the game. His Burnley team weren't great defensively either, and now Bolton are having major problems. Perhaps it's time to hire a new member of the backroom staff who is a good defensive coach?

  • Comment number 68.

    @64 ESG

    Tyrone mears broke his leg or something pre season, thats why he hasnt played yet.

    Regards Tuncay, I just dont think he's the sort of player you'd want in a bettle, he'd go missing. Davies and Klasnic are a bit more workman like, but i agree that Muamba should get a game, he gives them a bit of steel in midfield, and would protect a shaky back four better than M. Davies

  • Comment number 69.

    @66 Kevin davies isnt good but surely you must have him ahead of ngog??

  • Comment number 70.

    Owen Coyle needs to stop wearing shorts and football socks on the sidelines.

    You look like a child!

    Buy some trousers

  • Comment number 71.

    Oh and i've seen alot of people questioning why Tuncay doesn't play and it's because he's just not that good, he's a Match of the Day player, he'll do one good thing every 4 weeks and people who watch the highlights think he's something special but in reality he doesn't offer enough to the team to merit a weekly starting place.

    Cahill isn't overrated at all, he's England's second or third best center-back if you count King. If you watch an England game he absolutely deserves his plave in that team, and it's no coincidence that teams like Inter and Barcelona are being linked with him (obviously they're just rumours, but you don't see those rumours being made about Jagielka or Lescott). He is an extremely good player, but to perform to his best he needs another strong comanding centre-half along side him, he's not a captain by any means but he is a very very good player who deserves the recognition he is getting. Despite not playing to his best this year

  • Comment number 72.

    @70 here here

  • Comment number 73.

    @ 67

    Yeah exactly right. But his home form has been good, I'm surprised Bolton have been so poor at reebok this season. But spot on about the defensive coach, you always wonder whether it's a case that he doesn't put much emphasis or whether he hasn;t got the right coaches.

    @ 66

    Yeah I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head and what others are saying. Players like steinsson don't seem to be getting games. I notice there's no room for the captain in the first team? Also do you rate ngog ahead of tuncay?

  • Comment number 74.

    I actually wouldn't, what made him a useful payer has been lacking this year and he's now just a liability, from what we've already seen (which isn't much) N'Gog is looking like a really useful player. He has pace and an eye for goal and is actually alot stronger and able to hold up the ball than I thought he would be, he's a good young player and needs a run in the team to really show his worth.

    If we really want to change the way we play effectively we have to drop Davies, he's just not the player he used to be.

  • Comment number 75.

    @ 68

    Hang my head in shame! I remember it all now. Holden and mears both broke their legs in the space of about 2 weeks!
    I like Coyle's outlook and footballing philosphy (i think he needs to tighten up defensively a bit) and I see Bolton as a perfect stomping ground for developing youngsters. Just hope he can turn things around.

  • Comment number 76.

    @75 ESG

    I dont think its anything to be ashamed about to have forgotten that Tyrone Mears broke his leg... I doubt it even made the papers haha! Very unlucky though as hes a capable right back who can bomb on a bit... Had him as a provisional in my dream team this year, thats only reason i remembered bout his injury haha

    I still think Bolton will drag themselves out of trouble for some reason. I expect to see young Josh Mcechran there in January

  • Comment number 77.

    @ 76

    It was more shame that I was critiscising why he wasn't playing! LOL
    I prefer steinsson to mears, I just think he's better overall. Mears can get caught out defensively quite a bit.
    My defense in FF is all about jones, enrique and r taylor. It's a shame everyone else has gone for the same players as well!!

  • Comment number 78.

    Well, I had advocated the idea of McEachran on loan to Bolton while Cahill comes to Chelsea.

    I think Cahill may still come but should McEachran go into that situation?

    By the way, what is all this 'thin' squad business that is peddled around from time to time for different clubs.

    You've got youth and reserves, use them, that's what they're there for!

  • Comment number 79.

    Personally I think Coyle is next for the chop. His team's form has been comparable to Sunderland's in 2011 and they've just given Bruce the sack.

    There was a lot of praise from pundits towards Bolton's style of play last season which I didn't think was justified. They didn't seem to be a better passing team than any other in the division bar a couple of good team goals orchestrated by Holden and Lee Chung Yong. A zonal marking article at the end of last season pulled up this myth and showed that Bolton hadn't really moved away from long balls. Perhaps this was due to the injury to Holden mid season. It still doesn't excuse the shaky defence.

    As for relegation candidates, I think the three currently there are doomed. Personally I think it is slightly embarrassing for the league to have such empty stadiums week after week when this is a globally televised event. It looks poor in comparison to the NFL. The situation is comparable to grand prixs in China, Abu Dhabi and Korea. Sure they deserve to be there but the is the excitement missing from an old classic track. I think it is the same with lots of the 'win at any cost teams' in the premiership.

    The division would be so much greater if the football league teams who play attractive football and sell out allocations home and away were in the showcase division. To that end Swansea and Blackpool have been a breath of fresh air.

    Nonetheless, the team that need to be banished from this division is Stoke. I got bored watching my own team playing them.

  • Comment number 80.

    Coyle picks the team, his tactics recently have been inept as have his summer signings excluding Roe Coker. Our defending of corners is a joke - everyone back just invites pressure back on goal, and why when we do manage to sign promising young players from the Big4 we play an old has been out of position its beyond me. Time for Coyle to earn his corn or time for a change?

  • Comment number 81.

    Nonetheless, the team that need to be banished from this division is Stoke. I got bored watching my own team playing them.

    i know this is a Bolton article, but why all the negatives toward Stoke? They play to their strengths, is that so wrong? Its a big money sport, and the key is winning. It is not minutely feasible that all teams play the same way-this nice football that everyone has adopted after the Barca love in has happened. To be honest, watching Barca is boring alot of times for me.

  • Comment number 82.

    #79 StJameshPark

    A lot of the opinion on how a team plays is down to perception rather than reality. If you have friends in the media or you have somehow acquired a reputation of being pretty, then people will feed off of that.

    Also, you've made a point about empty seats and which teams should go, and then you've had a pop at Stoke. Whilst I've not been to the Britannia, I understand that as home crowd's go, there's is one of the most passionate and vociferous there is!

  • Comment number 83.

    @ 79

    Yeah have to agree with Hacienda, what's peoples' beef with stoke? I've noticed it tends to be the ones that have jumped on the barca bandwagon and were on the arsenal bandwagon before are critical of stoke and sam allardyce and "kick and rush" football.
    Bottom line is pulis plays how he knows best. He employs tactics that he is comfortable with and gets the players that suits his methods. Not everyone can afford to get a xavi and iniesta style player. And to be fair to stoke, their style has worked for them. They've got into europe and have qualified ahead of dynamo kiev so can't be all bad.

  • Comment number 84.

    @ 79

    With regards to Crowds, Prem League has higher average crowds than prett much anyother league in europe so it's not all doom and gloom. Maybe the ticket prices are too high? maybe some of the towns are rugby towns. But that is a wider problem with football.

  • Comment number 85.

    What's gone wrong at Bolton?

    That's pretty simple to answer, really. Bolton are lumbered with a plethora of sub-standard English plodders, such as Knight, Davies, Cahill and Robinson.

    And that's merely the tip of the iceberg. Add to that list, the likes of Muamba, Eagles, Reo-Coker and Pratley, and it becomes pretty apparent that half of the Bolton team wouldn't look out of place huffing and puffing for ''The Pig and Whistle'' on a Sunday morning.

    It's no coincidence that the EPL team which probably has the most English pros in their squad, are rock bottom of the league and shipping goals left, right and - dare I say it - centre.

  • Comment number 86.

    #84 eduard_streltsov_ghost

    Ignoring the idea that some teams 'deserve' to be in certain higher divisions, maybe there is a ticket price issue or maybe certain clubs just find there natural level.

    I suppose the question would be, compare the attendance of Wigan v Chelsea tomorrow with Wigan v Chelsea on the opening day of the 2005/06 season, Wigan's first game in the top flight and against the reigning champions.

  • Comment number 87.

    I believe a couple of years ago more people attended the Johnstone Paints Final than watched the Spanish Cup Final or Italian Cup Final!

    Certainly very close in their numbers, around 45k for Joinstone Paints and 50k for Spanish and Italian.

  • Comment number 88.

    #87 wirral18

    Is that simply because a day out at Wembley is more iconic than a Spanish cup competition which, I gather, doesn't have the same status as cup competitions over here?

  • Comment number 89.

    I saw Bolton play last season, following the defeat in the FA Cup Semi-Final and was amazed at how poor they were; effort and morale was lacking, along with a dismal attitude. When this happens and results indicate that this is so, wholesale changes are needed. The major weakness is the left full back - many attacks and resulting goals come from this direction.

    The fall from grace has been spectacular and the manager has lost the opportunity to make the necessary changes and will go.

  • Comment number 90.

    Yeah I just think it's a bit unfair / arrogant to when some people claim teams like wigan don't deserve to be in prem because of their attendance.
    Likewise with prem attendances, they're higher than most countries. I think a lot of it is the high number of ticket prices and this is due to spiralling wages. Neverending circle!

  • Comment number 91.

    Owls fan here.

    Thanks for Megson, he's been a revelation for us. I've no idea where his reputation for 'hoofball' comes from; we play an entertaining brand of winning football under him and have an almost perfect home record this season (P9 W8 D1) which no one down at Hillsborough can complain about.

    I wouldn't be surprised if some of your fans are still stuck in their ways with their attitudes towards Megson, but from the outside looking in you appear to have made a big mistake letting him go and then allowing Coyle to dismantle his team (after taking the credit for 'honeymoon period' and early form using Megson's players).

    If you still think it was the right decision to sack him then so be it, it won't make you feel any better if we both turn out on the same pitch to play in the Championship next season.

    Good luck, because with Coyle I think you'll need it.

  • Comment number 92.


    I have no idea for the reasons but my opinion is that football over has near enough completely lost its hooligan tag (despite what Platini and co think). Italy its still a major problem and in Spain you support Barca or Madrid and then maybe your local team second.

    I think Wembley is a big draw, especially for the one off occasion for the likes of Carlisle and Tranmere etc. I also guess we as a country have more disposable income than our European counterparts (questionable i'm sure). Interesting stat though.

  • Comment number 93.

    A lot of people are saying that coyle needs to go, but from the point of view of the chairman, who would want to take up the job? Who could he realistically get to replace coyle?

  • Comment number 94.

    #92 wirral18

    Yeah, I think you're right.

    Just one correction though, 'more disposable income' I think should probably read 'we spend more money'. Given the state of the economy, I think that's quite a difference! :-)

  • Comment number 95.

    Never sure about sacking a manager, jumping on bandwagons doesn't help either.

    The problem Bolton have is that if they are going to get rid of Coyle it needs to be before the transfer window opens so a new manager can come in and try and get a few loan signings or cheap deals. If someone like Bruce wanted to bounce back in the game i'm sure he'd have enough contacts to get a decent striker on loan from one of the big clubs.

    Timing if everything with changing managers. Interesting decision for the chairman

  • Comment number 96.

    #93 eduard_streltsov_ghost

    Oh, don't worry about that. There are enough career managers out there who'd take it for a few hundred grand a year. Bruce, Mclaren, Reid, to name but a few.

  • Comment number 97.

    Nothing to do with Bolton so I'll probably be moderated. Call me old fashioned but I'm weary of hearing about over paid footballers having run ins with the law and courts. What are the managers and chairmen going to do about it. Or are they all frightened of the players and their agents. Sick, sick, sick

  • Comment number 98.

    @ 95

    Yeah exactly spot on. West Brom got away with it last season, west ham didn't. THough I was confused why they sacked Zola.
    If Bruce came in at bolton, expect to see gibson and macheda there!

  • Comment number 99.

    #95 wirral18

    If someone like Bruce wanted to bounce back in the game i'm sure he'd have enough contacts to get a decent striker on loan from one of the big clubs.
    What, like he did at Sunderland!? :-D

  • Comment number 100.

    Agree with @91.

    Megson came under a lot of stick on now the defunct 606 form Bolton fans, gloating on Coyle and the wonderful things he was going to bring et and how dreadful Megson was etc etc.

    Always be careful what you wish for.

    Managers will always come and go and Coyle is no exception. I always felt it would never last and they have never been the same since the hammering at Wembley last season - they are in a downwards spiral. These can be very difficult to stop and it remains to be seen as to whether Coyle can arrest it.

    Meggo had to deal with a Wednesday squad lacking in cohesion, ideas, confidence and ability when he took over from a Irvine (a nice chap but in hindsight, a complete disaster) and whilst the end of last term was grim, he has transformed the side this season, even playing a bit of decent footy form time to time!

    I know who I'd rather have in change at the moment.


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