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Can under-fire Bolton afford to play ball with Swansea City?

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karlypants

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
As the Championship’s Culture Club comes to town it casts sharp focus on Wanderers’ struggle to find a style which is both effective and one which appeases a demanding public.

The numbers show in plain black and white that the more passes Bolton team has made since the opening day of the season, the fewer points they tend collect.

Victories against West Brom, Birmingham City, Derby County and Reading were achieved with minimal fuss. Indeed, Wanderers fans revelled at one stage in the team’s apparent ability to win without possession.

Not so of late, and as Parkinson leads his team out against the odds again at home, the consequences of defeat could be severe.

In comparison, tomorrow’s opponents kept the ball better than any other team in the division and are now starting to find their feet after relegation. New boss Graham Potter has attracted praise the length and breadth of Wales for reintroducing the ‘Swansea Way’ not least from national team boss Ryan Giggs.

Wanderers have been embroiled in their own private battle against the style police for some time now – but Steve Parkin believes the answer is more about decision-making on the pitch rather than an edict from the touchline.



“It’s the player’s mentality as much as anything,” he told The Bolton News. “It’s not necessarily about playing a long ball, or a short one. It has to be the right one.

“If there’s a short pass on, it’s the right one. If there’s a long diagonal and you can win off the front man and get a chance then that’s the right pass.

“We just have to make sure we don’t over-play in wrong areas and make sure we’re more decisive and direct in the key areas.”

David Wheater found his footballing feet in a Middlesbrough team alongside the likes of Gaizka Mendieta and Juninho and reckons Wanderers’ efforts to find a more complex style of play have been hampered by the poor run on which they find themselves.

Wholesale changes in the summer were designed to bring about a better brand of football but Parkinson has failed thus far to find a settled line-up.

Wheater is not about to blame his ever-changing companions in the dressing room.

“I’d be in trouble if I blamed that – I’ve had about a thousand different team-mates at Bolton,” he laughed. “Footballers have to adapt. There’s no point worrying about it.

“We have got players who can get on the ball. I think Ozzie (Erhun Oztumer) is a good example. He’s clever the way he gets about the pitch.

“When I was coming through at Boro I had people like Mendieta and Juninho, who really could look after the ball. You wanted them on your five-a-side team, put it that way.

“We do possession in training, and that isn’t a new thing, we’ve done it every week before we go into games. Everyone is decent on the ball.

“Winning games with that style of play helps you. When you are losing you start wondering whether you’re doing it right.

“I hope we can play a passing game on Saturday and get three points, then everyone thinks we’re brilliant. But I just care about the result, really.”

Wheater found himself under the microscope in defeat at Villa Park when an early lapse led to Jack Grealish's opening goal. The club captain held up his hands and admitted the minor errors on the night highlighted just how ruthless the Championship can be.

“In this league you get punished for any little mistake,” he said. “I got told to stay tight to Tammy Abraham, so I did, and he’s a big strong lad, he turns 50 yards out and plays a superb inch-perfect pass through for them to score.

“The set piece goal – Pav (Olkowski) will tell you he wasn’t in the right position, so we’re a bit disappointed because we do work on those, but again it's something which got punished.

"You look at Villa's line-up and it's packed with those kind of top players.

“I think our general play has been better in the last few games. We pass it around a bit more than we have done in previous seasons but I think we need to start making sure we keep hold of the clean sheet. There’s nothing better for a defender. I hope we get one Saturday.”

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Natasha Whittam

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
I hope the club put as much effort into training as they do writing drivel.

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