Bolton Wanderers are struggling right now, more for consistency than anything else. Under Owen Coyle, Bolton have always been a Jekyll & Hyde team, not just within a season but often within a match. In the first half of last season, we scored (often more than once) when we were on top, and rode our luck when we weren't. This year's problem is that whenever we play poorly we concede goals, and lots of them.
Some would say that bad luck with injuries has caused this defensive frailty. Dedryck Boyata, Marcos Alonso, Tyrone Mears, Sam Ricketts, and now Joe Riley have all missed time. That argument is valid. My first choice back four if everyone were fit would probably be Mears at right back and Alonso at left back, with Boyata and Gary Cahill in the middle. However, all the blame can't be placed on injuries. Zat Knight, Gretar Steinnson and David Wheater are certainly capable defenders, and both performed quite well last season.
Our defensive problems cannot be solved by personnel alone.
I think Coyle is going to have to give up some of his stubbornness to solve this problem. This may sound like anathema to many Wanderers supporters, but what we need at this point in time is a hard-fought 0-0 draw. And then another one. And then a scrappy 1-0 win. I don't want to go back to the Megson days, but a certain amount of defense is purely mindset. And we just don't have that mindset right now.
The best way to get that mindset may be a short-term return to the 4-5-1 formation of old. This is my team for the coming weekend's fixture against Everton.
Steinnson, Cahill, Wheater, Gardner
Reo-Coker, Muamba, Mark Davies
Eagles, Klasnic, Petrov