Bolton Wanderers: Cojones
What has been happening in the wonderful world of relegation contenders, Bolton Wanderers, since we last spoke? Well, we threw away another winning position and missed a penalty, two things that we seem to have had problems with this season already. Hopefully, although some would already disagree, the inability of Chris Eagles to score from eighteen yards won't see this manager sacked.
Strangely, despite Eagles being one for two on managers being sacked after he misses a spot kick, Dougie sees no reason why he shouldn't be allowed to keep on taking them. Working on the fact that if he keeps on taking them, he will finally score one, no doubt.
'It`s not a question for me to answer because Chris Eagles has got a bigger pair of stones than me.'
And there was me thinking what goes on in the changing rooms, stays in the changing rooms.
I'm sorry, it is nothing to do with 'stones'. It is to do with the ability to score penalties. Miss one and it plays on your mind. Miss two, and it plays on everyone elses. This is like when England draw in a major tournament and Frank Lampard goes forward. A collective shaking of heads and then a wistful 'told you' when he misses. There are other players in the squad who can take penalties, I seem to recall SKD being quite adept at them. It isn't for the player who has missed two to decide who takes them. It is for the manager. Regardless of the size of the players 'stones'.
This goes back to the problems that OC had. Unable to be able to tell players what they can and cannot do. Granted, penalties come up so rarely for us (but quite a lot against us) that it is barely a consideration. But we could have won on Saturday if Eagles had scored. Dougie makes great play of the professional that the former Burnley man is due to him scoring after missing. But you don't know if he would have done that anyway.
What happens if Eagles takes the next penalty and it lands on the M61, regardless of where the game is being played? Will he be allowed to take a fourth due to the fact that when he retires he will be apparently able to make a comfortable living from porn movies? It baffles me, it really does.
Naturally, there are other things to focus on, like the defence. But penalties can win games. If Eagles can't score two, then he shouldn't be allowed a third.
Elswhere, Mavies believes that we can make a push for promotion come the New Year, which goes against everything we have seen so far. Yes, we are closer to the play-offs than the relegation zone, despite being eighteenth. And yes, a three or four game run around Christmas would see us move up the table quicker than the shower room at Euxton is cleared when Eagles takes his jock off and steps into the shower. But, let me point you towards all the players that have said the same thing since we lost at Burnley in what, at the time, was seen as a small beginning of season blip, but has turned into something much, much worse than that.
I do believe that there is more desire about the players than there appeared to be under OC, but I have a desire to win the lottery and, at the moment, the odds on me winning it are pretty much the same as Bolton getting promoted. How a team can go so long without a clean sheet away from home is an answer that, normally, only Sunday League teams can answer. There is a fundmental flaw in the make up of the defence that worries and it is difficult to see, whatever happens in January, where that will hole will be plugged.
I agree with Al that Zat Knight has been one of the best performers in the defence. But when Zat Knight is one of the best performers in your defence, then your defence is in trouble. On Saturday, he undid all the solid work he has done by putting the ball into his own net, and not for the first time in his not all that illustrious Bolton career. All this talk by players and manager that we can still get promoted is now being very much taken with a pinch of salt by most people. Sure, it can happen. But there has to be a change in luck and personnel. And neither of those look like changing any time soon.
It is good to see that Norwich have relented and let Jacob Butterfield stay into the New Year. He does appear to have fallen slightly foul of Dougie's need to play every single person in the squad (bar Riley and Sordell) but he does give the midfield that something extra that we miss without Stuart Holden in the team. If and when Holden returns, and that looks to be on its way sometime, soon, maybe, kinda, then we will have no need for Butterfield. But, for the time being, I do think he should be given more game time.
And finally, congrats to the kids of Diddy and Zico, who took another step towards the Youth Cup with a victory last night. Maybe the first team staff should have a look at the work our former players are doing at youth level and see if they can learn something from it?
And with that, I'm off for my own lunch. Al will be here tomorrow (he's promised he'll be here tomorrow), and I'll see you Thursday.