It’s staggering. The statistic I’m about to give you – which many of you will already be aware of – is absolutely staggering. It’s more staggering than Scott’s bar was three hours after we tonked Stoke 5-0. And it’s more staggering than I will be at 8pm tomorrow if we manage to overcome Fulham. Which is remarkable.
Anyway, the stat is also depressing, so those of a tender disposition might wish to look away now.
Bolton Wanderers have lost 17 of their last 20 premier league games, and drawn…none. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what in football terms we call ‘the rot’ – and if we are to stand any chance of avoiding potential fixtures in Peterborough, Barnsley and Charlton next season, then what we need to do is ‘stop it’. And pretty damn quick, too.
As every analyst that has inexplicably been given access to a microphone will tell you, Bolton’s turn in fortunes coincided with the defeat to Stoke at Wembley last year. Despite beating Arsenal shortly after, it’s been pretty much downhill since then. If by ‘downhill’ you mean ‘vertical plummit’.
Premier League losses since then? Fulham (a), Blackburn (a), Sunderland (h), Blackpool (a), Man C (h), Man C again (h), Liverpool (a), Man U (h), Norwich City (h), Arsenal (a), Chelsea (h), Sunderland (h), Swansea (a), West Brom (a), Everton (h), Spurs (a), Villa (h). Grim reading, no?
However there are glimmers of light. This season, we have put Wigan QPR and the aforementioned Stoke to the sword – the first two of those fixtures away from home. So we do have the tools to win. The problem is, Mr Coyle doesn’t seem to have settled on a team, and has made some quite frankly baffling decisions.
Against Aston Villa, we started with Eagles, M Davis, Tuncay, Pratley, Klasnic and K Davies in front of the back four. The defence must have felt utterly exposed; only Pratley was taking anything like a defensive approach and, to date, his performances have not been the greatest. Hence, halfway through the game, we are two goals behind and facing a mountain.
And yet, we had Muamba sitting on the bench. A player who, although not composed on the ball, makes a remarkably high number of tackles per game. He needs to be on the field – particularly since Nigel Reo-Coker is notable only by his absence at present. If our defence is as exposed against Fulham tomorrow as it was last Saturday, then we will once again leave the cottage soundly beaten.
This is a great time to play Fulham. They will still be feeling the pain of going out of Europe with the last kick of the game, and they had a tough 90 minutes on Wednesdays while our lot were resting up. If we have any sense, we will start with Muamba in front of the back four, squeeze the midfield, and stop Dempsey and Dembele from exploiting the holes that we left against Villa.
If we roll over and have our bellies tickled again, then we need to do some serious thinking. Eighteen losses in 21 games is not an acceptable record.