ANTHONY Barness is urging Owen Coyle to take a leaf out of Sam Allardyce’s book as he looks to kickstart Wanderers’ season.
The former Bolton favourite has been impressed by the way Coyle has made his mark since arriving at the Reebok, but he believes a tighter, more solid approach could provide a short-term solution to the problems that have seen them drop to the foot of the Premier League table.
And he is confident there is enough talent in the Wanderers squad to put things right, starting with tomorrow’s Reebok clash with Chelsea.
“Sam drilled it into us to have a strong defence, try to keep a clean sheet and then, with flair players like Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff, nick something at the other end,” said Barness, who played for both Wanderers and Chelsea during a 19-year career which ended last year after hanging up his boots at non-league Lewes..
“That’s what they need to do now. They’ve been making too many silly mistakes and have got punished for them.
“They have good defenders at the club and, like we did, flair players who can score or create a goal.
“Owen Coyle introduced his own style last season and it worked well but maybe they just need to tighten up a bit while they get over that difficult period.”
History is not on Wanderers’ side as they aim to stop the rot against Chelsea.
They have not beaten the Londoners in 16 attempts, a shocking run dating back to December 13, 2003.
Bolton needed a John Terry own goal in the last minute the last time they took three points off the Blues at Stamford Bridge.
And Wanderers fans have to go back even further for a home success – 23 games– when Dean Holdsworth was on target in a 1-0 win at Burnden Park on October 26, 1997.
Indeed, it looks like a daunting task for Coyle’s men as they look to end a run of five straight Premier League defeats.
But Barness, who was on the bench in west London nearly eight years ago, believes the Reebok club can spring an upset.
“I remember the game well; Henrik Pedersen came on as a substitute and drilled a cross in and Terry turned it into his own net,” he said, recalling the dramatic end to that Stamford Bridge game after Bruno N’Gotty had cancelled out Hernan Crespo’s opener.
“It was a fantastic result, a real shock, because we were just looking to steady the ship at the time and Chelsea were right up there.
“It was a great performance – and there’s no reason why Bolton can’t do it again on Sunday. Chelsea aren’t firing on all cylinders at the moment and the likes of Fernando Torres, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba have not been prolific at all.
“Although Bolton have struggled this season, they definitely have the calibre of players to trouble Chelsea.
“In fact, I don’t think their position is a true reflection of how they’ve been playing. They’ve had a tough run against most of the top sides and I’m sure they will go on to have a good season.
“There’s no reason why they can’t turn things around, starting with Chelsea on Sunday.”
Barness started out at Charlton before Chelsea splashed £350,000 on the versatile right back in 1992 but he struggled to establish himself in west London and returned to The Valley, via loan spells at Middlesbrough and Southend, four years later having made just 19 appearances.
He joined Bolton on a free transfer in July, 2000, playing 116 times before leaving for Plymouth in 2005.
After playing part-time for the last four years with Lewes, Brighton-based Barness retired from the game in the summer to concentrate on his ceramic tiling business.
But he looks back fondly on his time at Wanderers.
“It was the best time of my football career,” he said.
“I loved the club and the town. We’d been up and down a bit but we managed to get promoted when I joined and they have been in the Premier League ever since.
“It was an amazing time and one I will never forget. I feel very lucky to have been part of it.”