Bolton Wanderers: Only When I Laugh
Two weeks ago, Owen Coyle said that he did not read blogs and had little interest in social media. When he wakes up this morning, he may find that that is a good job as another tactical blunder sent Bolton out of the League Cup at the second round stage for only the third time in eleven years.
There are those who will say 'well, it's only the League Cup, there are other things to worry about this season'. And while they will be correct on the latter part of the sentence, they are wide of the mark on the first. Losing to a team from a division marks you as a team. The League Cup may be looked upon as an irrelevance by teams trying to fit European games into their schedule, but for those below, a good cup run can bring confidence to a team that can be reflected in their league form. And if you don't believe that, then you weren't around in 1994-95. Or, for that matter, in 2003-04.
There are those who will point to the fact that Crawley Town have beaten bigger teams in cup competitions before, as if a shared embarassment softens the blow of defeat. I'm sure all the teams that we beat in our upward surge in the early nineties still meet at a community centre once a month and say 'Hello. My name is Liverpool (or Everton, or Arsenal, or Spurs, or Villa) and I was beaten by Bolton Wanderers in a cup competition', before they all commiserate with each other over a cup of coffee. A teams reputation as a giant killer shouldn't mean that you should be next. Sure, Crawley are upwardly mobile, but they are still a League One side who only managed promotion on the last day of last season.
And there are those who will say 'I'm waiting until we are ten games in before I make a decision on Owen Coyle'. Having now been knocked out of the League Cup, that tenth game becomes either Leeds at home or Millwall away at the beginning of October. Millwall away. I can think of better places on which to rest your decision.
The fact is that last night Bolton controlled a game without being particularly amazing until the decision was made to revert to 4-4-2 after playing 4-5-1 for seventy minutes. Despite having Gregg Wylde on the bench, Owen Coyle opted to send on Kevin Davies. SKD has had two fine games recently, but in trying to hold the game, the change ended up losing it. This isn't the first time that OC has changed the formation unnecessarily (Newcastle last season springs readily to mind) and he still appears to be making that same mistake. Despite scoring a goal on Friday, Marvin Sordell and the captain don't appear to be on the same wavelength as Afobe does with the veteran, but Afobe had already left the scene. Replacing Mavies with Wylde may have made the midfield top heavy with wingers, but they were still, at least, midfielders. And why change at all? OC has been fairly reluctant this season to use the whole bench, even when the game is won. With a two week break after Hull at the weekend, Mavies surely didn't need a rest?
People will ask, if you get rid of Owen Coyle, just who do you replace him with? And it is a question worth looking at. But how long, if you are going to get rid of him, do you leave it. If there are no viable candidates now, what makes you think there will be any viable candidates come October. The only managers to have lost their jobs this year, so far, are Andy Thorn and John Sheridan. Some more firings will take place, but not necessarily with the right name for this job.
But, why wait until Millwall? I think that this defeat, and the manner of it, beckons the axeman forward a little bit. There remains a fundamental problem at the heart of OC's tactics and he shows no sign yet of learning from his mistakes. Don't mistake this for a bandwagon jump, I'm not calling for his head. But for all the In Coyle We Trust hashtags on Twitter, there is little evidence to suggest why you should trust him and people are starting to appear to be taking it on blind faith. Injuries notwithstanding, and he was again unfortunate last night to have Vela and Afobe forced off, you need cold, hard facts to sustain that belief. And the only ones staring more and more people in the face are what matters at the end of the day. Results and performances. And we are currently lacking in both.
Still, maybe Jay Spearing is the answer. Three million appears to be the value that Liverpool have placed on the local lad who resembles a particularly unhappy pitbull on the hottest day of the year. With the transfer merry go round hotting up as we fast approach the end of August, and with money burning a hole in their pocket after the sales of Fletcher and Jarvis, Wolves have emerged as rivals for his signature. There is also the small matter of Mark Davies. With Moussa Dembele likely to replace Luka Modric at Spurs, Fulham are looking for an attacking midfielder and Mavies would fit that frame. Maybe his mind has been on other issues since the opening day, which is why his performances have been below par. Despite OC's protestations that Mavies is going nowhere, the trickle down effect from the Modric transfer should have the money talking. If, however, Mavies stays, you would expect his performances to get better. He is too good for this level.
As is CYL, who became the latest victim of being of the same ethnicity as someone else and then being said to be somewhere whilst being somewhere else. A bit like Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck. A male from the Far East was spotted at Stoke City and, putting two and two together and coming up with any number other than four, it was assumed to be LCY, despite the fact that the photo shows a man who could have come from any part of the world as far apart as Vietnam and Outer Mongolia. LCY, for the record, was in Crawley. Although he may have preferred to be in Stoke.
Although we know that no one would ever prefer to be in Stoke.
And with jibe at those less fortunate, let's call that the morning. Big up yourselves and have a good one.