"Well OK, I'll cross the ball, but the goal is to put it in the net, not just to the left of it."
Over the last month we have asked you, our faithful readers, to show your tactical acumen in two polls concerning Bolton's formation and personnel for the rest of the season's relegation battle. Hundreds of you have responded, and now it's time to see what you said, and if you know what you are talking about.
Our first poll asked what formation you preferred our club to line up in. Formation plays a big part in establishing a squad's personality, and Owen Coyle was very insistent that our club's personality revolved around the 4-4-2. But this poll was taken at a time when the 4-4-2 had betrayed us, and Owen was under a bit of pressure because of it. How many of you voted for 4-4-2? Keep reading to find out.
7%. 7% of you voted for the 4-4-2. Another 5% said to play the best XI, regardless of formation. That could, theoretically, lead to a 4-4-2. Anyway, a full 85% of you wanted a five-man midfield and one striker leading the line. I have to say I agree, and Owen Coyle seems to as well. He has only reverted to 4-4-2 once over the past six weeks, and that was really because injuries left us with only two fit central midfielders.
So 4-5-1 looked like an easy winner. However, the goals dried up as well when we played that formation. So we asked the question another way. Who should be that striker to lead the line? Solidarity went out the window.
After a severe draught in the goal-scoring department led to a couple losses, people started to reconsider the 4-4-2. In the vote for specific forwards, 34% of you chose a striking partnership. A large majority of 52% went with one striker, but everyone can see why Owen would be tempted.
21% of those who voted thought David Ngog should play on his own up top. That is probably what will happen over the rest of the season. Ngog is still only twenty-two, and this season has really been his first extended run in a team. I don't know if he will ever be a prolific scorer, but I think he could develop into a 10-12 goal a season striker. Much like Kevin Davies in his prime, Ngog's value may be in leading the line, holding the ball up to find teammates, and putting pressure on the defense with his incredible work-rate.
The second choice, at 18%, was Super Kevin Davies, who is, I am sorry to say, not that super anymore. He scored a couple goals one week, and he has shown some improvement as an impact sub, but he just can't get it done anymore. He was never the greatest athlete, and he squeezed every last drop out of his limited talent with sheer effort and desire, but even when his skills declined slightly, his value plummeted. He is nothing but a shell of his former self now.
Third place featured our first partnership, with 17% voting for Davies and Ivan Klasnic. I addressed Davies above. I like Ivan Klasnic as a goal-scorer, the left foot is lethal, but really? I mean, really? We might as well play a statue of Nat Lofthouse at forward, it would be quicker than this pairing.
Klasnic also recieved 13% of the vote as a lone striker. Interestingly, 9% voted for other, which I assume must be something to do with Marvin Sordell and/or Tuncay Sanli. I am afraid they are just not going to play a role this season.
Overall, I have to say the supporters of the mighty Bolton Wanderers did pretty well. This week's featured poll will be up soon. I can't wait to see what you have to say next.