LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Sebastian Larsson of Sunderland scores their first goal from a free kick during the Barclays Premier League match between Arsenal and Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium on October 16, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Everyone seems to think they know what Bolton Wanderers need. After this latest disappointment at Swansea we've heard the typical "Coyle out" arguments with a whole host of ridiculous names to replace him. There has also been the suggestion that we need a better assistant manager and that we need a number of new players come January. The latter two suggestions are much more reasonable. That said, it's not we're talking about now and we at the Lion of Vienna Suite would like to throw our suggestion into the ring with something that we haven't seen yet on Twitter, the forums, or other Bolton blogs. What the Trotters need is a lethal free kick taker.
Think about it. The last player in a Bolton shirt that had the ability to put the ball into the back of the net directly from a set piece was Matt Taylor. On numerous occasions during his time as a Wanderer he put the ball into the back of the net directly from a set piece including when he kicked off a late double with one against Stoke to secure Bolton's Premier League status at the end of the 2009/2010 season. Other than Taylor, who was the last Bolton man to score directly from a free kick? Robbie Blake against Birmingham City back in August 2010.
So far this season, Bolton have won 27 free kicks within 25 yards of goal and scored on a grand total of none of them. Martin Petrov and Chris Eagles are certainly capable and often come close, as was the case with Petrov's free kick attempt against Swansea which just failed to curve enough to trouble Michel Vorm. The biggest problem with the free kicks that Petrov and Eagles attempt is that they often fail to go anywhere near goal as they turn into short passes that nothing comes from or balls that only manage to hit the wall.
Now, don't get me wrong, no set piece specialist would be able to trouble the keeper with 27 out of 27 shots. However, what if just one or two of those had made it into the back of the net? How much could that have changed our fortunes especially against the likes of Norwich City, Sunderland, or Swansea? And even if it doesn't bulge the back of the net, there's a chance of the goalkeeper parrying it out for an easy rebound or corner, both of which could easily lead to goal and the confidence boost that both the players and fans so desperately need.
What if Bolton managed to sign or train someone able to get the ball over the wall with the ability to dip and turn into a shot on target? How many more goals and potential wins could this side have? Bolton have sorely missed a player that can trouble the goalkeeper from an already dangerous position and looking at one when January rolls around should be worth a real shout.