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Johan Mjallby struggling to put a case for the defence at Bolton Wanderers

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Wanderers coach Johan Mjallby admits it is hard to make a case for the team’s defence at present.

The Swede charged with mentoring the backline on Neil Lennon’s staff says his own personal pride is hurting after seeing the Whites ship four goals for the third successive away game at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

And the man who marshalled the Sweden defence on 49 occasions at international level is at a loss to explain why Wanderers have conceded 21 goals in seven games since keeping a clean sheet in the FA Cup at Liverpool.

Ahead of tonight’s trip to Middlesbrough, Mjallby said: “Being a defensive coach my pride is a bit hurt right now.

“It is a confidence thing. They look at bit nervous back there.

“We are starting to have this nasty habit of getting ourselves in trouble by making mistake after mistake defensively.

“It’s obviously a big headache for us right now because there is not really much you can work on at the training ground.

“It is down to silly mistakes and obviously you will get punished for it.

“That’s the way it is in this league and it’s not the best time right now to keep making them.

“We’re letting ourselves down, there is no question about that.

“If we don’t stop doing it we will be dragged into a relegation fight and that’s something you don’t want.”

Wanderers current tendency to concede the first goal is a factor according to the coach who also worked with Lennon at Celtic.

He says that is putting extra pressure on the forward line and believes the alarming number of goals being leaked is a reason why results have taken such a downturn.

It is a problem he feels needs nipping in the bud as soon as possible.

Mjallby added: “It is quite serious now.

“We have to get through to the players to be more solid.

“We seem to be needing to score three or more goals to get a point and that’s not how it should be.

“Conceding the first goal has been ongoing for a number of games, and quite early.

“This puts a dent on the players’ confidence.

“Going forward we’re usually a threat.

“It is hard for us to put a finger on why we are conceding so many goals.

“When we first came in we had a good number of games where we were very solid and not conceding a lot of goals.

“That’s something we need to get back to be successful.”

Lennon is of the same mindset as his right-hand man and similarly confused as to why the backline has become so fragile.

The Whites boss said: “My concern on Saturday was the standard of play, the goals we are conceding and the lack of any real leadership out there on the pitch.

“We can’t do it all for them.

“While you do have to take responsibility as a manager for team selection and the way you set your team out, you can’t legislate for glaring individual errors.

“When we do concede away from home, we take a long time to recover from it.

“We played so well the week before against Watford and the football was great.

“We conceded goals but the actual style of football was very pleasing on the eye.

“A week later we looked a shadow of that team.”


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