Bolton Wanderers - BWFC: You With Me..?
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BWFC: You With Me..?

How's the hangover doing? I'm not talking about the one you induced upon yourself after the final whistle. I'm talking about the one that can't be eased by a raw egg cracked into a glass of Alka-Seltzer and Tabasco sauce. I'm not bitter about the outcome of Saturday, how can I be? The fact we were mentioning the play-offs after the season we were suffering under Coyle, is a minor miracle.

To be honest, I didn't feel we would get promoted this season, even if we had made the play-offs. I couldn't envision it. I couldn't imagine it. I couldn't see us getting to Wembley, never mind lifting the trophy. I wasn't feeling any nervous excitement in the build up to 'crunch games'. Not like I should have been. I was waiting for that 'feeling' to wash over me. That feeling when a wave catches your team and it coasts them to the shore of success. I know our home results at the closing stages of the season had the sense of promotion running through them. Our away form, however, meant that 'wave' was constantly breaking. The catalyst for the wave can occur from all forms. It could be a player- like a John McGinlay- who you can just sense is sent from the stars to guide you in your quest. Sometimes the metaphorical wave comes in a literal shift in club fortunes, for example when a new manager brings a Viva la Revolution! Hmmm?

So, with my nerves now settled and my mind at ease, I have questions. My first question isn't regarding Dougie's starting line-up for the Blackpool game (which you are free to discuss in the comments section. I'm sure you have plenty to say). My first question is regarding our current 'Premiership stars'.
I remember, especially earlier in the season, when Bolton were beaten, the opposing manager would brag about how well his team had done. He would brag how Bolton were filled with Premiership players and his team had toppled them. Are we? Would you say Bolton Wanderers have Premier League quality players on their books? Just because we have players who played in the Premier League doesn't mean we have Premier League players. Bradford played in the Premier League once. When they were relegated, were they filled with Premiership quality? More for conversation than statement, is Chungy, Ngog, Eagles, Mavies, Holden et al Premier League quality? If you had the chance to cash-in, whom, if any of the group would be up for sale? I believe Premiership quality resides in several of the players. Extracting that quality, expressing that quality or wanting to prove that quality to the Bolton Wanderers cause, however, remains to be seen or developed. Is Premiership quality what we need? Do Premiership players get you promoted or do quality Championship players understand, succeed and escape the Championship league? Personally, barring several of the defenders, I would maintain as much of the current team as possible, add to the group this summer, blow, shake and throw the dice on them again for one more season.

For the most puzzling of questions, especially after the impact he would go on to make, why wasn't Craig Dawson's loan not restructured to run until the end of the regular season? I'm not saying it would have changed our fortunes or even led to getting that 3rd or 4th goal against Blackpool, but it may have limited the Tangerines to no or one solitary goal rather than the two which were decisive in our downfall. With or without Dougie at the helm this season, Bolton have shipped goals, but with Dawson in defence, we definitely solidified the back line. With Dawson in the team, we conceded 1 goal in 450 minutes of football at the Reebok. With Dawson back in the Midlands, we conceded 2 in 35. Dougie's team selection on Saturday wouldn't have been so glaringly daring had Dawson been in the line-up. Had it not worked out early on- which it didn't- in all probability, the score would have been 0-0 at the time of realisation, rather than 0-2 down and having the proverbial mountain to climb. With the back-line shored-up, the forward players are free to express themselves without having to look over their shoulders. I know Dougie was proud with the deal to bring Dawson on-board and he wanted to maintain his integrity by sticking to his word regarding the terms of the agreement. I get that, but this was for the chance to be in the play-offs. The chance of promotion from a long-time shambolic season. I'm not having a pop at Dougie, in fact, I admire the manager for his honesty. But would Fergie or Steve Bruce have let Dawson leave for no reason without trying to do a deal? I doubt it. I like we have a clean-cut manager and I hate bringing people like Fergie or Bruce into my arguments, but trying to tweak Dawson's deal so it ran an extra week is hardly trying to 'win at all costs'. Eh, Alex?

We're now heading into my favourite part of the year. Summertime is on the horizon and along with longer days, warmer weather (cough, splutter) and barbecues (cough, cough splutter) comes the transfer shake-up where the promise of a new season begins to blossom. I didn`t want to win promotion with a team that only wins 4 league games away from home with a defence that ships 41 goals in 23 away games. So, in a twisted way, I'm glad we missed out on the play-offs. I'm also glad because I want Mr Freedman to feel something. I want him to experience the acid build-up, burning sensation, which renders us fans unable to determine whether we just need to throw-up or require an ambulance. I'm sure he felt it as a player or manager of his beloved Palace. I wanted him to feel it at his new home, Bolton. When we lost Coyle, I'm glad we got a new man in charge who had no affinity for the club whatsoever. I wanted the new gaffer to be completely detached from his new surroundings so he could see exactly what needed to change. We did...and he did. Now, I want him to care about his surrogate family. I want him to feel the 20,000 hopeful pairs of eyes observing his every move. Whether he likes it or not, Dougie Freedman is starting a movement. Not only is he moulding a team in his vision- which I'm sure will continue to develop in the upcoming dealings- but Dougie is winning over a hostile crowd reminiscent of Rocky and the Russians. When the final whistle blew on Saturday and the realisation embedded itself into Dougie's gut, I wanted the acid to burn the lining of his stomach. I don't care if he likes me. I don't care if he likes the fans. I don't even care if he likes the chairman, owner or town. I just hope, at the final whistle, he felt like he'd been punched in the stomach by Ivan Drago. If he did suffer and what he says is true- that he knows what needs to be done- I believe Bolton Wanderers' pilgrims are being led to witness the occurrence of something very special. I'm a believer. Are you with me?
The Journalist

Writer: Mr Ecky: bwfc_85 Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday May 5 2013

Time: 10:24PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Doug and Darren have both been very unlucky - however if - Palace did reach the OBSCENE DIVISION - and it is a MASSIVE if - surely Chris Eagles will be on the shopping list?
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05/05/2013 23:21:00

Another thought provoking article. Thanks for that! Every so often, we come across a man or woman, a leader, who is different from the run of the mill. He or she has an aura about them, be it a touch of arrogance; supreme self-confidence or an ability to extract maximum effort and loyalty from others. In our case, a man who insists that he has the answers to Bolton Wanderers recent problems. A man, who as soon as he opens his mouth, people listen. Who believe perhaps that they are listening to a special talent. We've seen him work wonders at Crystal Palace over the last couple of years, and so know that he's no 'flash in the pan'. Even when he seems to pick the 'wrong' team, we try to understand how he is thinking. Because we believe in his ability, it's almost harder to criticise him. When he explains his motives to the press, it's much easier to grasp why he has acted the way he has over the last few months. You can see the plan. It isn't the proverbial 'rocket science', it is just plain common sense. I just can't see him failing! But, like everyone else, he's going to need a bit of brass to do it.....On the Dawson front, he was an immense figure in our team. His presence meant so much to everyone in it. He organised the back four; led by example; scored goals and allowed the mid-fielders more freedom. Like you,I couldn't understand why he wasn't contracted until the end of the Championship. And I take your point that plenty of other, shall we say, hard-nosed managers, would have tried very hard to keep him. I believe Dougie should have done, as well! Maybe it's a learning curve for him!
Barney Grumble
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05/05/2013 23:30:00

Great writing and a really nice tone on which to close the season, however, the brutal reality of the professional game tells you in order to improve the playing squad you need money, last time I looked the club had very little money available. DF is not Jesus he cannot turn average players into something more than that and if the team is reliant on bringing academy lads into the ranks, everyone's expectations should be lowered success could take a long time, there appears to be no quick fixes on the horizon irrespective of rhetoric or belief. Big Sam was able to built a team good enough to take us into the premiership, this time around the task looks increasingly more difficult, the club appears to have far less resources at its disposal with which to help DF try and emulate Sam. In the absence of a surprise event such as several millions suddenly being found down the back of the sofa I fear our best chance of promotion has just past us by, for that I wish to thank Mr Gartside for the utterly disasterous protracted blind faith he showed to Coyle when the real damage took place, DF has simply been picking up the pieces ever since.
aussie mike
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06/05/2013 00:34:00

When I said DF is not Jesus I meant it, he is a young relatively inexperienced manager capable of making mistakes and some of those I suggest have cost us dearly but I don't lay the blame on him for the heartbreak ending. Remember Palace benefited from the truly talented young players they have, capable of making even Coyle look good
aussie mike
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06/05/2013 00:49:00

Let's just hope he can sniff out a few more Medo quality signings as opposed to the Butterfields, de Ridders and Halls of this world. Two cheap 15+ goal strikers for a start and 4 new mentally and physically tough defenders!
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06/05/2013 00:51:00

Great article and I agree with the sentiment entirely. I think if we can keep the majority of the players we have and add a couple of key signings then we will be in for a good season next year. I agree mike that we will have qpr and reading to negotiate and some of the other teams will strengthen but we now know what is needed in this league and how to win in it. Qpr could well do a wolves as I can't see some of their 'superstars' playing in this league. Reading are a different proposition and I reckon they will do well. Of the other likely relagation candidates I see Wigan as the biggest problem as again these bigger clubs will struggle to adapt as we did.
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06/05/2013 09:43:00

Now, as for players in and out I see one going who we need to keep in Alonso. I am sure there will be rumours regarding others such as Mavies, Chungy and Eagles and some may well go but I hope not. In terms of who we should show the door too I would say Ream and one of the keepers can go ( I don't mind which) Ngog has flattered to deceive for to long so should also be a candidate along with Sordell as it just hasn't worked for him with us and it isn't going to. Following what we have seen this year we must try to keep the following: C Davies as I reckon he will score at least 15 next season for us. Eaves, as he looks like he too will do well at this level. Medo looks like a more than capable replacement for Spearing and I can see the team built around him next year. Pratley who confounded his critics and was in the top five performers over the season. Eagles and Chungy go without saying along with Mavies and in Vela there is the makings of a good young talent. I expect a lot of you won't agree but Knight for me has to stay as he is another that has had a better than expected season. I also don't see anyone better at right back coming in than Ricketts or Mears. So that leaves a couple of obvious names missing, I like everyone else hope that students can rediscover the talent we have seen before, all be it in short periods but I do worry that having a player who is apparently prone to injury (even if not his fault) and who has not shown anything since his stuttering return as our great hope could be folly. Secondly Wheater, I hope that he returns after closed season with the strength and stamina that seem to have been missing since his return to fitness. So there you go, plenty there to disagree with I'm sure but isn't that the point of this section? I look forward to other peoples views on it
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06/05/2013 10:23:00

Finally to Saturday and team selection. I was perplexed by hall being in the team but I think it was to combat the pace of ince which worked well while he was on. The only real disappointment was Ream in the end who looked like he was playing in slippers in the first half I don't know what happened to the player who joined and looked decent, maybe he lost interest when he wasn't in the premier league anymore?? I would like to have seen us go 3 at the back once 2-0 down by taking ream off and introducing Eaves. As it was it nearly worked out but who knew they would have 2 shots on target and score both?
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06/05/2013 10:33:00

i'm pretty much always on the same wavelength as you bolton_gav but i have to disagree with with knight statement. the guy is a waste of space. i said it a while back that dawson was doing the job of two centre backs, and that was very evident in that performance. i very much understand knight's role as a sweeper, there extremely effective to have, Rio ferdinand has been doing it affectively for years and has built a career on using a partner to do the work load then make that critical block or tackle, unfortunately knight is no wher near as good as ferdinand, and i don't rate ferdinand that much aswell really. but if you keep getting dragged out of place, (which knight is always doing, your asking for trouble.) hes far to flat footed and i'm sick to death of seeing him in replays casually out of position jogging with his hand in the air. he didn't even attempt to block sylvestre's goal. and ream was abysmal in the first half, he definitely improved in the second but he looked like a little school boy in the first. would like to see mears back fit, he took allot of unjustified flack from the fans, i've never seen a right back in bolton shirt work so much down the wing and his effectiveness at stopping crosses was just brilliant.
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06/05/2013 12:03:00

I base my opinion of knight on a couple of things. Firstly I have never seen anybody win so many defensive headers, I dread to think how we would have gotten on without that and second as you say with Dawson next to him the defence was pretty sound therefore is it not the case that it is he trying to do two mens work when paired with what have been awful partners. As mike has said the coffers are fairly empty so we need to be realistic about new faces hence my thinking above and I don't see us finding two better defenders than knight for no money when we need to strengthen elsewhere too. With you on Mears though.
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06/05/2013 16:06:00

I have always felt the lack of a naturally gifted goal scorer in the attack has been our undoing, our poor conversion rate has cost us numerous points. Pedro & Boltongav point out the same, proven goal scorers cost money and it may transpire we either don't have it or wont gamble any further on big money signings in the wake of Coyle's cock ups, albeit there is no other way of gaining a quick solution to the problem if you are not prepared to spend. Blackburn paid 8 million for Rhodes and he paid that back this season alone with 30 goals. Coyle threw a similar amount out for N'gog and Sordell which just about sums up our dillema - with better brains at the helm there must be good players available out there we can afford to bring in, as long as Eddie gets his cheque book out. Allowing hope to take over from despair, we might just do a Cardiff next season, assuming reality doesn't come along to destroy it.
aussie mike
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06/05/2013 16:29:00

*********. Spent an hour writing an article then t'interweb decided to delete it.
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06/05/2013 18:21:00

I don't think for one second that Dougie Freedman will follow our advice. Whatever solutions we come up with, will probably be totally different to reality. Here's my thoughts. Bring El Habsi back on loan to the Reebok for next season with the opportunity to sign him permanently, if we are promoted. Sell Bogdan, or Lonergan as soon as possible.Then do the same deal with Dawson and partner him with Wheater. I can't see either Habsi or Dawson getting much game-time in the Premier League next year. Keep Knight in the squad and sell one of the other central defenders. The mid-field I am quite happy with, but would love to sign Spearing. I fear that if Mavies follows the same path as Holden and Wheater, with his injury, he won't play properly again until 2014-15! Up front, is always a problem, because successful strikers are worth their weight in gold. I would keep Davies and Eaves and if possible, sell Ngog and Sordell. The latter two are most certainly talented, but we've been watching Ngog now for four years, here and at Liverpool and a goal scorer he is not! Sordell has been something of an enigma. I can't fathom what possessed Coyle to invest 3.2 million in him and also cannot see him improving his performance next, year. It's truly aggravating because he has ability. Like most people, I'd like to see the likes of Murray being signed up, but there's a fat chance. On the wing I would go for a player like Noone of Cardiff. Perhaps, we could do a swap for Sordell! People have pointed the finger at our defence this year and with good reason. But for me, we need a top-class striker to convert all the chances we are making. It's an absolute priority, if we are to be successful next year!
Barney Grumble
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06/05/2013 19:13:00

Prem quality - Chungy, Holden, Mavies
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06/05/2013 20:50:00

are scoring conversion is not been a problem, what is this obsession. said yesterday and i'll say it again, leciester won on a far superior goal difference, but have only scored two more than us, and look at where blackburn and burnley are with rhodes and austin. winning from the back is the way forward.
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06/05/2013 22:30:00

scoring has not been our undoing, cardiff haven't got an amazing goalscorer and look at hull. if it get brought up again i'm just going to have to blow my brains out. but i'll admit, i would love a goal scorer to hit above 20 obviously, but i would sooner have dawson than murray considering how crap our defence is.
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06/05/2013 22:34:00

Let's be honest, we need to improve at both ends. As I said before Davies and Eaves look like the answer but we do need another and neither Ngog or sordell appear to be the man. Bowton I don't think anyone would disagree that the defence needs improving but the addition of a striker scoring 15+ would make all the difference. We can't rely on Eagles being our top scorer being enough to get us up next year. I totally agree that one man does not make a team (dingles prove that) but if we have goals all over the team and a striker doing the business then it will make a difference. As I said before we need a left back centre back and striker in that order.
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07/05/2013 08:51:00

you just stated my point, you need a goal scorer to make the difference not BE the difference. the team is just fine up front. could do with chungy scoring a few more. why spend more money on something that isn't needed, by all means if dougie can get murray on a freebie i'll be chuffed to bits.
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07/05/2013 09:38:00

you just stated my point, you need a goal scorer to make the difference not BE the difference. the team is just fine up front. could do with chungy scoring a few more. why spend more money on something that isn't needed, by all means if dougie can get murray on a freebie i'll be chuffed to bits.
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07/05/2013 10:12:00

It's very rare for the difference to be made upfront. We scored 8 more than Hull and they're back in the top flight. We scored 3 fewer than Cardiff and yet they have 19 more points. The last time a team conceded 61 goals in a season and got promoted to the top division was Crystal Palace in 2003/4. The last time a team finished in the top two of the second tier of English football having conceded at least 61 goals was the 1959/60 season, when Cardiff conceded 62 and earned themselves promotion to the First Division. That was a different footballing era; the top scorer was Brian Clough with 39 and four teams scored 90 goals in a 22 team league. You don't win games just by trying to outscore the opposition; it's not worked in the past 40 years and it never will again under the current rule set. You win games from defence, and ours is full of fairly useless and clueless players. I'd keep Wheater, but I'd replace the rest. I'd also give Eaves plenty of game time.
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07/05/2013 10:17:00

some very interesting and thoughtful observations posted, it has got me thinking about the points put forward. Bowton & robmoss deserve a pat on the back for their research with the stats. Quality defence with a good striker thrown in would be superb, this time next year lets hope we are amazed by 46 games played, 40 victories, 6 draws, nil defeats, 92 goals for and 12 against, don't knock it we are all entitled to dream. Back to the real world - Fred needs to write his comments again, after all he must be on another half term holiday after working for 6 weeks none stop.
aussie mike
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07/05/2013 12:49:00

Bowton are you trying to make an argument out of us agreeing then!
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07/05/2013 12:59:00

no......maybe, i honestly have no idea. i'm confused. your mam is so
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07/05/2013 13:10:00

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07/05/2013 14:32:00

Zat says lets look forward to the future. Amen to that, but -oops. Has he not seen DF comment that he hs plenty of defenders and that some players will be on their way. Guess who is likely to be top of the list of those waving bye bye ?
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07/05/2013 18:07:00

something should be said and Eagles touches on it, we gave ourselves a mountain to climb with Coyle then Philips steadied the ship as DF took over control. We did go on a protracted run of great results this year after a slow cautious start but several key decisions surrounding team selection and substitutions back fired costing precious points in games where we should have done better. Bottom line is DF might have cemented his place as our manager but he is not as good as many perceive him to be, for myself I always favoured the down to earth straight talking McCarthy, I felt he would have done better. Life moves on and next season will provide testimony to how good or how ordinary DF actually is. I noted the reference above to Al Habsi, its truly worrying after witnessing the damaging consequences over the last 2 years - sell your best goalkeeper, replace him with a third choice, bank 4 million, begin to leak " error" goals, lose crucial games, get relegated by a single point, lose 50 million plus, leak more " error" goals, lose more crucial points, miss out on the chance of promotion by one point, lose another 70 million. Solution ? go out and buy a better goalie ? make do with our third choice ? or get rid of the idiot in charge who made the decision in the first place
aussie mike
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07/05/2013 19:21:00

Just for arguments sake, what did Keegan try to achieve in the Nineties with Newcastle? That was as near as dammit to trying to out score the opposition in every game. And he nearly won the League with it! Please don't think I've lost my marbles, but I believe that Martinez at Wigan has come out stating that all football teams in the future will form up as 2 - 8! Two central defenders and eight outfield players who can interchange at will. I saw Brazil do that in the Nineties against Italy. And even with their famed defence, Italy got hammered. We may be a little way off that standard at the moment, but maybe Dougie's already got it in mind. Dawson and Wheater in the centre and the rest inter-changing positions according to whether we have the ball or not. Can't wait to see it happen!
Barney Grumble
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07/05/2013 19:33:00

Tremendous article again, and excellent comments also. My personal thought is that DFs turnaround of the season should have seen us get over the line, at least into the play offs. It is ironic that that didn't happen probably because of DF's decisions. On Saturday the shape was all wrong from the start and we didn't have any cohesion until first half injury time. And I agree that situation was exacerbated by the absence of Dawson, who indeed we could surely have managed to keep for another game. Without the change of shape up front and the lack of defensive leadership I would argue that Blackpool would never have been 2-0 up. Anyway, that's all behind us now and I am still confident in the Dougie revolution but trepidatious of a bit stronger division next season. I think we are well placed to have a go at doing a Cardiff but yes, our defence badly needs surgery starting with the heart transplant of a Dawson type player and excision of pretty much all the rest. I'd like to see Alonso stay even though defending isn't exactly his strong point, but if we had our Dawson or Dawson clone then he could play a useful part. I'd lose Ngog. I'd like to think his youthful promise would deliver goals but I don't think it will. Much better to grow Eaves and look for someone else who has a proven eye for goal. I'd like to see us bring Spearing back and I'm generally in agreement with the idea of keeping (defence apart) as many as possible and adding extra quality/desire. I'm no scout, having previously endorsed Aussie mike as a strike partner for the dearly departed SKD so I'm not sure who these players of quality and desire I'd like to see arrive are, but I'm looking forward to the comings and goings of the summer and positive in the belief that the turnaround of the last three months isn't a false dawn and we will be a force next year under Dougie, whoever ends up wearing the white shirts.
Skopelos Chris
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07/05/2013 21:41:00

What happened to Barney Grumble?
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30/05/2013 00:22:00


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