Depth will be tested

By Liam Hatton

We are at that point in the season in which the games are coming thick and fast - Tuesday, Saturday on repeat is the standard at the moment, which showcases how important Bolton’s depth is.

Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Wycombe had a frantic finish, as Jon Dadi Bodvarsson deftly flicked home before some late drama saw Joel Coleman give away a penalty at the other end.

Bodvarsson figures to feature more with the news that Dion Charles will miss a couple of weeks with an MCL injury, whilst a return date for Nathan Baxter is not yet apparent, meaning that Coleman is Bolton’s number one for the foreseeable.

Top that off with the three game ban of George Thomason, the absences of Ricardo Santos, Randell Williams alongside others who are more long-term and it is proving to be a testing period.

However, Wanderers are not the only team in the league with injuries so it is very much a case of business as usual. As we get into the tail end of the season you can cut the atmosphere with a knife, especially at home games.

This has drawn some commentary on social media alike in regard to the crowd ‘backing their team’. I was going to leave this argument after Ian Evatt’s comments a couple of weeks ago following the Barnsley game.

I understand the argument but my mindset is that paying customers have a right to voice their opinions and concerns from the stands. Now, I will not pretend for a second that fans are level headed and see things clearly during games (I am as guilty as they come) but that is due to how emotionally invested we are.

You cannot police how fans act during games. I do not condone booing players - especially when the team is third in the league with games in hand - but I also believe that is a rare case with a small minority of people.

Evatt has been manager of this club for close to four years now, so I feel that fans who still shout to ‘get it forward’ when the centre backs are passing the ball around at the back should be used to the way Bolton set up during games. This should hardly come as a shock to anyone, unless you have been absent since the Big Sam days.

If that is how a fan feels then who am I to dispute them? They have just as much of a right to get their point across as myself, and yes there is a difference between voicing frustration in games and actively booing the team just for the sake of being negative.

It felt nervy on Tuesday against Wycombe, but if you are looking for an overwhelmingly positive and vibrant atmosphere at home games then you are not going to get it.

This is not me being controversial, but there is a lot of work to be done to improve the matchday experience. For example, changing the pre-match playlist is not going to impact how loud fans are during games whatsoever.

It has been poor for years - outside of a small section of fans and a drum in the East Stand - so if Evatt is looking for that to change anytime soon, he is going to be waiting a while.

Curbs your enthusiasm

By Tony Thompson

The Bolton News:

They haven’t won a game since November, they have the second worst away record in League One and they have a player up front who plenty of Bolton fans would have had playing at the Toughsheet given the choice. What happens next?

Charlton Athletic used to be the Premier League blueprint for clubs like Bolton back in the day. A modest budget used well by Alan Curbishley, a big player sold every season to balance the books and rarely the threat of relegation.

They dropped out of the top division in 2007, the season Sam Allardyce walked out at the Reebok and the team limped over the line to qualify for a second UEFA Cup.

Interestingly that season, finishing directly below Bolton were Reading and Portsmouth. Things started to unravel for us all about that time, some faster than others.

Like Reading, Charlton’s slump doesn’t look like it has finished yet. They start this weekend in 20th despite having Alfie May in attack. He has already scored 20 goals and now has Freddie Ladapo for company up front, who has always been a decent player, and the club is now managed by Nathan Jones – who was in a Premier League dugout last season.

How on earth they currently sit 20th in the table is beyond me. They still draw decent crowds, they still have a decent budget if Jones has decided to take the job, but they play Bolton, Portsmouth and Derby in their next three games… So the form book would tell you they might be in a spot of bother.

Of course, as someone who has watched this brilliant club for a long, long time, I have seen plenty of corners turned with a result against the Wanderers, plenty of second chances offered. I get the feeling with this lot, though, that they have more than enough to beat the struggling teams, even with Dion Charles out of the team.

I hope Jon Dadi Bodvarsson gets a chance along with Aaron Collins. They looked great together when they came on against Barnsley and I get the feeling that both of them complement each other’s game.

After a couple of close calls in the last few games I’d love to see Bolton rattle a few goals in and get some real confidence going but I’d settle for three points, however they come. Let’s not get greedy.