A week which has raised valid questions

by Liam Hatton

A week is a long time in football, but it is definitely fair to say that Ian Evatt has enjoyed better moments during his time as Bolton manager.

Evatt himself admitted that they needed to do better against Blackpool. While the refereeing display last Saturday left a lot to be desired, Bolton just were not good enough. Whether it was not reacting to quick set pieces for some goals, or some downright poor defending, it was a bad day at the office.

People may point at the Ricardo Santos red card, which has since been overturned, being the turning point but the game was already gone at that point. Sometime you just have to admit you did not deserve anything.

As for Tuesday, this is where it gets interesting. Evatt came out after the 1-0 defeat against Wigan and said we deserved more than we got. Is that true? And if so what defines ‘a deserved victory?'

Now for the statistics (all of these come via whoscored.com) - Wanderers had 68.6 per cent possession, 611 passes (88 per cent pass success) to Wigan’s 280 (75 per cent pass success).

Do not get it twisted, that is not me looking at the stats and saying we deserved more from the game, because I would like to think I am not naive enough to base my judgment off that basis alone.

A victory is not defined because of how long you hold the ball, instead you also need to ask what did you do with it? For example, for the 68.6 per cent of the time Bolton held possession, Santos, Eoin Toal and Gethin Jones between them took up 33 per cent possession throughout the game.

So between Bolton’s three starting centre backs, they nearly accounted for half of the team’s overall possession. To counter that, you need to ask how many times was it casual one-twos between Bolton players in their own half?

These statistics are all relative and it goes beyond just looking at the numbers. For example Bolton had 11 shots with three on target, Wigan had four shots with two at goal. But it could be argued that they did as much in a five-minute spell as we did all match in terms of goalscoring opportunities.

It is hard to say that Bolton struggle to score goals when they have hit the back of the net the most times in club history under Evatt in a calendar year, but they are wasteful in front of goal.

It is probably true that they miss Dion Charles, but I think you need to question the manager as well. I made the comment the other day that Evatt is ‘protected’, and by that I mean that when you question decisions made, normally fans will come back and fight you on it by saying the manager is smarter than the average fan.

Of course he is, but you are allowed to question the patterns of play and if opposing teams are starting to figure Bolton out. If so, is the manager doing enough to change it? I am not screaming for a plan B (because I have gone on about that enough), but it does feel like the players are locked into this system and are not expressing themselves as much going forward.

I do not know the answer, but I know it starts with Cambridge and if Bolton are to get promotion, they will definitely have earned it the hard way with teams around them all on their radar.

Taking the rough with the rougher

by Tony Thompson

The Bolton News:

I've been like a bear with a sore head this week, so apologies to anyone who has been within my immediate vicinity since about 5.45pm last Saturday.

I caught up with some old mates to go and watch the Blackpool game but ended up feeling like I should have grabbed a fresh new £50 note out of the bank, folded it into a paper aeroplane and sent it flying off the end of the North Pier instead.

I don’t count myself as a ref-basher, so I am not going to start now. But I hope Mr Smith gets a puncture on the way down to do his Championship game at Plymouth this afternoon and gets absolutely fleeced for a replacement tyre.

That didn’t put me in the greatest frame of mind. Nor did the several pints of lager I consumed after the game before getting back home at 1am to find I had also left my keys somewhere on the Golden Mile.

We heard the same old diatribe after the game, bouncing back, owing the supporters etc. And I will admit Bolton played better at Wigan than they had on Saturday but what did it ultimately mean? Absolutely diddly squat.

Once they had scored the response was non-existent. We wasted half an hour passing the ball from one side to the other while Wigan’s defenders happily parked the bus in front of their own goal and knew they had the points in the bag.

Now, Ian Evatt knows nothing he or his players said after that game was going to be received well and going off the reaction of every Bolton supporter I know, only actions are wanted right now. Barnsley will be licking their lips in anticipation at Oakwell on Tuesday if they manage to stumble again against Cambridge.

The fact that Derby County have imploded at exactly the same time is the only shred of solace I took from Tuesday. I also managed to develop a rasping cough which makes me sound like I should be on a 1930 tuberculosis ward. Cheers Blackpool.

I won’t be leaving my sick bed this weekend for the sake of spreading germs across the Toughsheet Community Stadium every time I groan in disgust when a corner nearly hits the opposite flag, or we manage to bring the ball from the edge of the penalty box to our own goalkeeper in three passes or less.

There has always been rough and smooth following Bolton Wanderers, and my word, this week has been rough.