With Lukas Jutkiewicz and Joe Mason working well together up front, many fans feel vindicated in their calls for manager Dougie Freedman to adopt a 4-4-2 formation or something close to it. Speaking to Greater Manchester Radio, Freedman was more pleased with keeping a clean sheet and brushed off the issue.
“I’ve never had the opportunity to play two strikers, two type of strikers that I really like, so it’s difficult. When I’ve got two in the building I can do that,” he said.
The phrase “that I really like” is the operative one, for Jermaine Beckford, Craig Davies, Tom Eaves, Marvin Sordell and David N’Gog have been available this season and none have been played with a partner on a consistent basis.
If Freedman’s way forward is to have a target man who can hold the ball up with a second attacker to pick up the scraps, then so be it, but it smacks very much of a plan ‘b’ given the manager’s previous pronouncements on how the game should be played.
The three points gained against Watford were welcome, especially given that all three sides in the relegation zone also recorded victories. It’s a little premature to claim that the result has any great significance, though. The opposition, playing with little width, were tailor made for Bolton and didn’t exploit all too obvious weaknesses down the flanks.
It remains to be seen if next week’s fixture against Blackburn provides a reality check. Gary Bowyer’s side are in reasonable form and most certainly use the wide areas, as Bolton found to their cost at Ewood Park. If the pattern of play shown against Watford is repeated, then there are grounds for optimism, but if Freedman reverts to using a lone striker it will be the final indication that his words can’t be trusted.
- Richard McCormick