With apologies to Gary Larson, “his” take on the MLS “SuperDraft”
Archive for January, 2012
John Nyen on Bolton’s season and plight
There are 18 games left to save the season for Bolton Wanderers.
Saving they may need indeed, after momentarily sinking to just near the bottom of the table in the Barclay’s Premier League.
Given that they are Bolton, and given that there probably isn’t a 50-million pound signing coming in the near future, the questions remain:
#1 How did this happen?
#2 Will they stay up?
If we flash back to last season we watched the Wanderers scale the dizzying heights of the Premier League table. Starting out the season with a tie against Wigan, Bolton quickly found themselves on the right foot.
They began with a three game unbeaten streak before losing to Arsenal, and as of December 30th 2011 (20 games in) they had only lost six games. With an evolving midfield of Stuart Holden, Fabrice Muamba, Martin Taylor, Martin Petrov, Lee Chung-Yong and Matthew Taylor, the Wanderers managed to pull in 32 points in 20 games last season. To give you some perspective, that would currently put their squad in 8th place, a good position for the second half of the season. At the time of their 20th game last season, they were within 5 points of the top four in the league.
Currently, Bolton manages to sit third from the bottom with 16 points.
Given the overall performances this year we could guess that perhaps the early season form of Bolton last year was an aberration and the finish to the season was slightly more indicative of their real position. However, I tend to believe that this is not necessarily the correct answer. With some of the early performances last season and the losses towards the second half of the season it is possible that Bolton has just been a depth challenged, hard working club with a bad luck 12 months. Certainly their recent performance against a poor Everton squad gives hope that Bolton can rise out of the relegation zone.
In the first twenty games of the 2010/2011 season Bolton performed admirably against great clubs and poor clubs alike. Playing against the top teams of that year (Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs, City) they managed five points in the five games that they played . Against the teams fighting for relegation that year (West Brom, Birmingham, West Ham, Wolves, Wigan) they did not lose, and managed 12 points in six matches.
Currently, in 2011/12, Bolton have only managed five wins and 1 tie, with those wins coming against QPR, Wigan, Stoke, Blackburn and Everton (with one tie against Wolves). The silver lining here appears to be that Bolton is capable of beating the teams which it is currently surrounded by in the standings (current bottom five of the BPL are Wolves, QPR, Bolton, Wigan, Blackburn).
Interestingly enough, the top five in fouls this season are Blackburn, Wigan, Stoke, Everton, Bolton (in that order).
Also, between last season and this one, there has only been a slight uptick in fouls per game, from 10.63 per game to 11 per game. Bolton, it has to be said, are not necessarily a control team when playing. They rely on outworking their opponents, slowing down the attack and taking advantage of goal scoring opportunities when given the chance. This “effort style” was hindered last year by players (like Johan Elmander) who wouldn’t always put their all into closing down opposing players.
• And then they were even….
Yesterdays 3-2 Manchester United over Manchester City FA Cup win was a sidewinder of drama. City control the run of play, United score. Vincent Kompany gets a pink card (that’s what we’re calling a soft red card from now on over here).
Paul Scholes comes out of retirement.
Owen Hargreaves…comes out of retirement.
However, the most amazing scene all day. The look of the petrified faces of United fans as City–down a man–kept coming in waves at their neighbors at Old Trafford.
United, it’s hard to disagree, minus a penalty here and the brilliance of Nani keeping the pressure on looked no match for a City team missing Yaya Toure in the middle. Don’t rate Gareth Barry so his absence doesn’t get a mention here–but just did.
United have some real problems. It’s been long documented here on TSG that United’s midfield is in shambles. Michael Carrick can be championed all you want, but when Paul Scholes is brought out of retirement it says something about your ability to dictate the game in possession on the attack.
And for all the talk of Nemanja Vidic slowing down, United backline minus the stalwart is a step below as Vidic more than the rantings of a fading Rio Ferdinand kept that backline in line.
Congratulations Citizens, you’ve officially arrived.
• Wynalda Off
Nice interview with US Soccer veteran and sh*t-disturber extraordinaire Eric Wynalda by our fiends over at the Free Beer Movement. It’s the Part I at least.
Wynalda grouses about the MLS schedule being aschew to what is commonplace in most FIFA-speaking nations, about Fox Soccer bullying MLS into changing that schedule and about the US needing to win under Klinsmann.
While it’s easy to disagree across the board with Wynalda’s sentiments–actually check that, the scheduling makes some sense. (On Fox Soccer’s failure to pay up for MLS, that one’s all about cash, not the schedule. Very clear to see Fox’s content MO across the board. In fact, as we’ve mentioned before, quite a coup for Fox to pick up the World Cup rights in 2018 and 2022 after ESPN has so kindly agreed to promote soccer in the US through 2017. That was very smart business.)
Anywho, the bigger challenge with Wynalda’s comments is…it’s not a black-and-white world. Whether it’s Don Garber’s plan or Wynalda’s plan the key for continued growth of the sport is to iterate that plan on an annual basis–something that MLS has at least proven it is all too willing to do.
That and where’s the money for everything Eric?
• Clint Dempsey…from DOWNTOWN!
A 3-ball, trifecta, hat trick…honestly can there be a better celebration and moniker attached to three goals in a soccer game than the term “hat trick”…yes? Please?
Anyway, Dempsey with three onions in the bag against the EPL basement resident formerly known as Charlton (where Jonathan Spector once played…that’s rather irrelevant.)
Dempsey is more than likely going nowhere in the transfer window. While Fulham has enough quality to avoid the drop, inconsistent hit man Bobby Zamora is not exactly fond of coach Martin Jol (whose team is finally starting to come together.) Zamora, despite his injuries and age (30) is still masterful in little space. he’s also English and helps on the homegrown front.
If any scorer is headed away from the Cottage it’s likely Zamora this transfer season–though don’t bet on that either.
• Centerback slacker?
Might that be Geoff Cameron? We’re just messing around however quite a run it could be on US centerbacks over the past six months.
Carlos Bocanegra to Rangers. Oguchi Onyewu to Sporting Lisbon. Tim Ream perhaps to Bolton? Looking real likely. George John to West ham? Supposedly a done deal.
Omar Gonzalez to FC Nurnberg if the whole ACL thing didn’t materialize. (Was the prep work for a drop (relegation) or genuine infatuation with the Texan’s talent?)
So who is Geoff Cameron’s agent. And why doesn’t the Dynamo man have a host of team doting on him? Is it just the work permit thing?
Prediction: Cameron gets his caps this year, helps houston ringing in the new stadium and then heads overseas on a transfer right before the calendar turns 2012.
• The Golden One
With FC Dallas signing Blas Perez we’re cautiously backing away from the Dominic Oduro for MLS Golden Boot 2012 pick. More predictions later this week.
Thanks for everyone’s patience. We’ll ramp up more content here at TSG as January gets going.
We’re back! And so is Paul Scholes!