UpTheSaddlers Forum

Bolton Wanderers (A) F A Cup 3rd round, Jan 5th, 3pm


I agree with everything you said except Cook remaining static. His link up play in recent months now has been exceptional. It’s not just the goals he scores. Could have had an assist at 3-2 on Saturday if Jarvis had been firing on all cylinders and it involved him bring in the ball down, turning the defender and nailing a blind 30 yard pass.

But you are right it is worrying how teams seem to have worked out both Ferrier and Zeli and neither of them have any answers.


Perhaps a little more harsh on Cook because he is improving, I think it’s a fitness thing with him and more evident in the last 10 mins of games. The guy will score goals but his main aim is to say between the width of the posts and that’s where he comes alive. I’m just looking for his strike partner to be smarter with the way they hold up the play and the runs they make. So I’d say a striker who can do that is needed this month


Would be nice but any room in the budget needs to go towards fixing the defence first.


This is my point though, it’s the way the team plays that is forcing the pressure on the defence. Because of the setup and the lack of forward line that can release pressure then the ball keeps coming back and our defence are having to defend numerous situations where either we’ve been caught with their midfield the wrong side of ours and the ball being player quickly out wide and our winger not getting out to stop them because Keates tucks the full backs in. No matter who you place in the back 4, they will be asked to do the same things and will be caught out the same way.


They need to be capable of doing the basics though. Keates isn’t asking them to perform rocket science by tucking the full backs in. If the defenders and defensive midfielders can’t handle that as a unit then some of the personnel aren’t up to it. Hopefully Jarvis is a bit wiser in possession than Ginnelly was and Cook continues to hold up the play well. Because unfortunately while they do contribute to our defensive problems, there are much more gaping problems on that front that need attending too.


The diamond 4 was solving this as kins and Edwards we’re getting out wide quickly and Dobson was sat is the space in front of the back for where we get caught out using a flat 4.

If you’re using a flat 4 then Edwards would need to be wide right so it can become a 3 if needed


Or we sign a full back that can stop a cross and a centre half that can deal with a ball that is chucked into the box.

4-4-2 is a very basic system that has worked for years. That tells me it’s more the personnel than the system.


Or that 4-4-2 is outdated and more updated systems utilise the dangerous areas of the pitch better. I can explain further but I’ll need a large table, 11 pints of pale ale and 11 pints of Guinness


Were there any signs of Cypriot flags?


Haha it’s unfashionable but outdated isn’t really fair considering teams above us in the league and the football pyramid still use it pretty successfully. Leicester won a premier league title playing that system not long ago.

But I’ve got to be honest, a footballing tactical debate is a tragic waste of 11 pints of Guinness.


And 3500 Bitters to represent the crowd


Haha, fair point.

Leicester were successful because of how much running Kante, Albrighton, Vardy and Oshizaki would do. Albrighton was as wide midfielder, Mahrez was a winger. Mahrez would do the clever stuff. Oshizaki and Vardy would close opposition full backs down and run the channels to provide an outlet.

As I say, Jarvis is the clever guy, play Edwards as a wide midfielder. Kins does all the running so we would need a striker that runs the channels


Nope. Atmosphere was electric first half. Then … yeah.


For me, the issue lies with us being far too narrow as a back four and heavily reliant on the diligence, intelligence and hard-work of our wide midfielders to prevent crosses.

Take Bolton’s third goal:


We are nowhere near the ball here and Zeli is never going to prevent or effect the winger’s delivery.

Devlin is occupying a redundant position 20 yards from the touchline when he could be out there engaging the man with the ball as Zeli provides cover. With the extremely narrow position of the back four a cross of any quality will bypass Devlin - as proved the case here.

That said, if we are going to focus on defending narrow and congesting the six yard box the players need to take ownership. Neither Guthrie or Martin are close enough to their man here and we’re overloaded on the back post.

If packing the box causes this much confusion is it not better to have a broader back line focused on preventing crosses in the first place?

Anyway, same thing for the fourth.


Yes there was a quick free-kick, but here we have another laboured attempt by the wide midfielder (Morris this time) to block the cross and the defence incredibly compact yet not engaging their players. I counted 6 outfield Walsall players in the box as the goal is scored, but the Bolton forward has a free header.

Again Devlin is in no-man’s land, again we’re being overloaded at the far post and again a quality ball is going to cause us trouble.

I can sympathise with Keates trying to make us more compact at the back, but we’ve become far too exposed from out wide and no more organised in the centre. I don’t think opposition teams are targeting our full-backs, but they are capitalising on the narrowness of our defensive shape.


Great post @simon , shocking images, especially the first.



ALL season we have been too narrow which is why I funnel some of the blame to Keates. When the full backs are tucking in you leave a massive amount of space for wingers to pick out a cross. It’s basic obvious stuff! Saturday illustrated what I’ve said perfectly. It’s okay blaming Leahy and Devlin all the time but the way we’re set up exposes us!

Very good post this!


I take the point about being narrow but looking at that third goal there, how on earth does Guthrie manage an own goal? He’s under no pressure, because he’s not close enough to their striker.

Yes the cross coming in is way to frequent an occurrence, but the bottom line is it doesn’t matter who defends you are going to have one or two crosses coming into the box at least per game. We look like conceding every time. How can we be that … flimsy? It’s panic stations whenever a winger has the ball.

And looking at the fourth what amazes me there, is who is the guy defending behind Devlin at right centre half? Luke Leahy. Because those two and Morris are the only three alive to the quick free kick. Your always going to be narrow from their free kick in the middle of the pitch. Where’s the ■■■■■■■ leadership?


What really annoys me is crosses coming in from that deep really is meat and drink to defenders. And usually when a team resorts to peppering crosses into the box it’s because they can’t break you down with the ball on the floor so resort to a plan B.

The issue here is the defenders can’t handle movement in box , striker runs across them bang goal… positioning is key and for that’s where Guthrie lacks he doesn’t have a Football brain.


Martin isn’t blameless. All it would have took to nulify Donaldson’s run would be a look over the shoulder, but neither he nor Guthrie were alive to it. Reminded me of Lovren’s defending against Aguero. Where he just looks completely unaware of what is going on around him. But big ■■■■■■■ Clayton is no Aguero!

They weren’t alive to much all second half the pair of them.


You’re spot on mate.

The entire back 4 needs to shift. The full back should close the cross with the assistance of the wide midfielder (not a winger). The opposing wide midfielder picks up on the back post. We should have either a full back or centre half spare in the box. We’re set up to invite crosses and law of averages state we’re not going to win them all