OPINION: Are Bolton Wanderers strikers in the last-chance saloon?
A HEAVY defeat against Blackburn Rovers before the last international break gave everyone a chance to stew.
Talk of putting things right on the training ground does very little to ease the mood over that barren fortnight, however heartfelt the player’s sentiments are, or how many column inches they fill.
So a result is tantamount as Wanderers head to Birmingham today. A win, scrappy or not, would perhaps clear a few heads.
Just as important, though, is for Dougie Freedman’s front men to start firing.
Whether Jermaine Beckford, David Ngog or Craig Davies play the striker’s role at St Andrew’s, the fact that none of them have weighed in with a league goal so far paints a pretty sorry picture.
Beckford can point to some bad luck at Blackpool, which all-said was perhaps his best 90 minutes in a Wanderers shirt to date.
Freedman stuck his neck on the line to bring his former Leeds United team-mate in from Leicester City in the summer but has yet to get much in return.
Fans – many of whom were willing to give the 29-year-old the benefit of the doubt when he arrived – are starting to write him off as a flop.
And with a style more languid than that of Ngog or Davies, he is a much easier target for ire from the terraces when things go wrong, as they have so often this season.
One goal, and particularly a crucial one, could change all that of course. The same could be said of Ngog, who currently looks a pale shadow of the player who became a key part of the team that surged up the table in the second half of last season.
The Frenchman’s fitness failed him again over pre-season and he seems to have found it difficult to get going at all.
Davies has also spent too long on the sidelines after sustaining a foot injury in training. His bustling, physical style has been sorely missed in recent weeks and while his record suggests a player unlikely to chip in with 20 goals a season, just one would be a very good start.
Another blank this afternoon may give Freedman two weeks to ponder the situation.
The manager has wanted to add to his attacking ranks since the summer but his inability to bring someone in, coupled with loan exits for Marvin Sordell and Tom Eaves, have hiked up the pressure on Beckford and Co to perform.
Rumours are Freedman could be narrowing down his search for another front man.
By that rationale, this lunchtime could be the last chance for one of his strikers to try to change his mind.