Spirit is key to Bolton Wanderers lift-off - Nathan Blake
NATHAN Blake has warned Wanderers they can kiss goodbye to hopes of promotion unless they find a way of lifting morale in the camp immediately.
The former Whites striker is at a loss to explain how a group of players who came within a whisker of the play-offs last season have slipped so quickly and dramatically into reverse.
Dougie Freedman’s side are bottom of the Championship table, without a win in their first eight league games, heading into a weekend clash with third-bottom Yeovil Town.
Blake, who has been alerted to Wanderers being inked with Cardiff duo Mark Hudson and Joe Mason, believes his former club need to find answers, and quickly.
“If I’m honest, I look at the players the manager can call on there and think they should be okay,” he told The Bolton News. “But confidence seems to have been sapped from two or three players and the longer that goes on, the more it spreads through the whole group. It infests the whole place.
“If David Ngog doesn’t score a few then his confidence goes. I like Jermaine Beckford, I think he’s a great player, but after struggling at a couple of clubs, his confidence isn’t sky high.
“If things don’t start the way you want at a new club then it can quickly spiral.
“It’s disappointing to see them rock bottom. Looking at the situation they are in right now, it’s sad.
“I know it is early but if they don’t find a way or ironing out these problems very soon then it’s another year away from where you want to be. You can basically kiss goodbye to promotion.”
Weekend reports linked Wanderers with Bluebirds defender Mark Hudson and striker Joe Mason – both well-known to the Cardiff-based Blake.
The club have distanced themselves from the speculation, although the indications are that money is being made available for the under-pressure manager to bring in some new faces.
Blake reckons both Hudson and Mason would make good additions to the Wanderers squad.
“Hudson would do a great job but whether Cardiff would let him go is another matter. I would be surprised because they haven’t got much cover in that position,” he said.
“If what Bolton need is a leader at the back and someone to organise, I can’t think of many I’d rather have in the Championship.
“Mason is an intelligent player. I don’t think he’d be the kind of lad who’d be knocked if confidence in the camp was low.
“He isn’t the quickest player but he’s sharp and I think another year in the Championship where he is quite capable of scoring 15-20 goals in a season would do him the world of good.
“I could see him playing in behind someone like Beckford and doing a great job.”
Freedman has remained defiant in the wake of speculation about his position and is convinced he will soon find the right formula to get the Whites moving back up the table towards a play-off berth that was the target at the start of the campaign.
“The problem with playing catch-up is that you can go on a five or six-game run and get yourself up to mid-table but that bad run is only just around the corner,” Blake added. “You get easily sucked back in.
“I really hope they get a win this weekend, go on a run and sort everything out. But it’s a precarious position to be in.
“You want to be at the 10-15 game mark and safely in mid-table because once things sort themselves out at Christmas it takes something truly spectacular to get yourself up the table and back into the mix.”