well. I could've told Big Marty that this would happen
if he selected Davids, Jenas and LYP, three players that
have no future at the club and showed exactly why.
I've never liked Jenas, even when he was setting fires
playing in Nottingham. What a waste of money, when we
could've gotten a midfield destroyer from France, Spain or
Holland for £7m or less. How many tackles did he shirk
yesterday ? How many basic passes went astray ?
Too many is the answer. Davids tries hard but simply
isn't up to the job anymore and I'd sooner have sent
young Jamie O'Hara out there, 'cos at least he'd be at them
for 90 minutes+ and without the lapses in concentration.
I cannot believe that Jol would put him in ahead of
Huddlestone, who was excellent during pre-season. I
would've had the more defensively-sound Thud playing in the
holding role that Zokora struggled in yesterday, with the
Ivory Coast man just ahead, where Jenas was. Zokora is
a fine passer of the ball and a great tackler but I don't
fancy him in Carrick's place. That role just belongs
to Thud and I'd prefer to see Zokora charging at the
opposition, in a midfield destroyer role, as opposed to
backing off, like he did yesterday which gave Campo the
chance to unleash that 40-yard fluke.
option for Jol is to put someone a little smarter than
Jenas, perhaps Danny Murphy, in front of Zokora to relieve
some of the pressure. I understand totally that MJ's
plans went up in smoke with injuries to King & Tainio, two
of the best, but you've also got to think about it and use
the best players available. Jenas is NOT one of those,
Davids definitely isn't, while I'd have been happier with my
12-year old nephew playing at right-back, or at least Phil
Ifil, ahead of the terrible Lee Young-Pyo. The alternative ?
Stalteri ? I don't think so.
screwed up by not addressing the much-mentioned full-back
problem, as a Premiership-standard player should've been
drafted in at left-back to duke it out with Assou-Ekotto,
while the Cameroonian settled in. I would've gone for
Gareth Barry, seeing as Wayne
Bridge is so picky about where he plays, not IF he plays !
BA-E really struggled yesterday, what with Davids constantly
drifting out of position, leaving his mate without cover.
God knows why
MJ didn't go for balance, with Ziegler on the wing, as it
would've given Zokora another outlet other than the
heavily-marked Lennon, who still gave Bolton a torrid time.
I thought that the strikers did a good job under the
circumstances, starved of service (Jenas, Davids?) almost
completely, with Berbatov impressing the most. There
were plenty of flicks
and tricks from the Bulgarian and lots of strong running,
something we didn't always get from Mido. It won't be
long before Dimitar hits the goal trail and hopefully Defoe
will too, as his tame effort seemed to suggest otherwise.
At the back,
Davenport & Dawson did OK against an extremely horrible
attack in Davies and Vaz Te, although Davenport was actually
fouled for Bolton's first goal. You could say that he
was caught out but it's very difficult to mark someone when
your shirt is being pulled. Try it sometime, see for
yourself. Behind them, Robbo didn't exactly
distinguish himself in goal, particularly with the second
goal. A better keeper might've seen it and not gone
the other way so early, but that's a cheap shot when you
think of the times he's saved us before. However, the
time is now. We need clean-sheets and safe-hands from Robbo
if we're to have a solid cup-run and maintain our fifth
place position. He had a shaky World Cup and didn't
feature too often in pre-season but he's got to get it
I now accept
that 3rd/4th place will be beyond us this season, all things
considered, assuming that we reach at least the
quarter-finals of all three cups this season. Hell, we might
even win one of them. Injuries not withstanding, it's
gonna be one hell of a long season for our boys and, as a
result, the Champions League places will be out of reach.
I think that
MJ will have to get the chequebook out again soon, with a
striker, left-winger and right-back all needed. I would like
to see Mido back at the club as fourth striker, while
Stewart Downing could be the man wide left, with Pascal
Chimbonda the much-needed right-back. I say lets just
give Wigan their £6m and see what the lad can do, as he
can't be any worse than his predecessors, the likes of
post-Graham Steve Carr, Hoddle-era Taricco, Pamarot, Kelly,
Stalteri, and now, LYP. He's not my first choice but
surely Chimbonda must be more competent than the
Whatever Jol decides, he better make a good choice and make
S J Wightman