Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Where fellow sufferers gather to share the pain, longing and unrequited transfer requests that make being a Wanderer what it is...

Moderator: Zulus Thousand of em

GhostoftheBok
Dedicated
Dedicated
Posts: 1561
Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:51 pm

Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by GhostoftheBok » Sun Jun 13, 2021 1:42 am

This is a long one, so pop the kettle on. Here is why I think we might win the league next season. TL;DR version at the end.

Most people will watch Italy’s games at the Euros. It is my view that Italy under Mancini play a very similar style of football to Bolton under Evatt. As such, watching how Italy play is informative for Bolton fans when it comes to figuring out what Evatt needs to do with his squad in order to be successful next season.

Italy’s ideal attacking style is “vertical”, meaning they try to transition the ball directly through the central thirds of the pitch before they choose a side down which to focus their attacks. Teams will typically look to overload one side of the pitch so that attacking players outnumber defending players in that area. The later that overload happens in build up the more difficult it is for the defence to react to it – therefore it is advantageous to move the ball through the middle as far as possible before switching it wide to create an attack.

The player who dictates which side the overload will occur on is called a “pivot.” Italy play with three pivots – Bonucci at the base of their team, Jorginho in the deep midfield and Veratti (Locatelli last match due to injury) further forward. Who plays the role of pivot in a particular phase will depend on where on the pitch there is space. Other players make runs in patterns based on which pivot has the ball and how the opposition reacts to them (standing off, pressing etc). For example: If players step in to press a deep pivot, Chiellini will often make a run into the space they leave and receive a short pass to dribble forward. If an advanced pivot receives the ball forwards will make runs to stretch the opposition and fullbacks and midfielders will run into the spaces created.

By the end of last season Bolton’s deep pivot patterns were excellent. Baptiste made superb runs through the middle and the fullbacks offered good options on the wings. Isgrove made some runs in behind on the right and Santos (Bonucci) and Williams (Jorginho) generally had good options. Where Bolton lacked positive improvement was in the advanced playmaking positions. Because we had no “Veratti” it fell to the forwards to drop back to attempt to fill attacking spaces, due to our advanced mids lack of reliability in possession. This is what led to Evatt’s yelling at the forwards to make stretching runs (as seen in the new documentary) and Evatt telling them to just execute the plan. Isgrove’s runs for the deep pivots improved over time, as mentioned earlier; but we were definitely still miles off in that advanced area.

It should be the case that Sheehan solves the advanced pivot issues. The little Welshman has excellent movement, tactical awareness and passing - along with the ability to dribble. The addition of a more advanced playmaker is also likely to mean that our forwards will make more of the kinds of runs Evatt was screaming for, as they will no longer feel the need to drop off due to lack of service. The focus will then switch to how well our attacking players are able to create gaps ahead of Sheehan for him to pass through.

Retaining John was key, as his two-footedness and willingness to both underlap and overlap make him ideal for the system. His partnership with Dapo, where both players were prepared to run either way, became really effective in the late season. The picture is slightly less rosy on the right.

With Jones and Isgrove we have two players with a strong preference to operate on the outside. Neither is particularly comfortable in the channel and that leads to both attempting to exploit the same space. Whilst they improved in that area by the end of the season, it still wasn’t great and it had to regularly be offset by a midfielder (Sarcevic when fit) running the right hand channel. Whilst this gave us that option, it meant we were extremely predictable in our play down that flank and also that Sarcevic was less available to create additional overloads on the left. It seems likely Evatt will want to address that issue by adding at least one player on the right flank who can cut inside, as well as improving stretching runs by adding more pace. When watching Italy you cans see Berardi making those stretching runs when a deep pivot has the ball, then spinning inside when the ball is advanced forward centrally; it’s illustrative of where we want to be.

In the centre we have Doyle, who performed well over the season but will probably be seen by Evatt as a player we can improve upon. Using the Italy analogy again, Ciro Immobile offers a physical presence in attack that is vital when Italy are pressed hard. When the opposition are pressing effectively and breaking down Italy’s vertical play, Immobile allows them to simply go direct. He can do this either by spinning in behind with his deceptive pace, or by holding the ball as a traditional centre forward. Bolton seriously lacked a Plan B last season and when our vertical play broke down we were forced wide early, which allowed the opposition to match our numbers and disrupt our attacking play. Pace in attacking areas also means the opposition cannot step up as far and compact the pitch, which makes their press less effective. Adding pace and physicality is absolutely vital if we are to play consistently well next term.

The last note is on the players gradually aging out of the side. Those being Lee, Baptiste, Gilks and Doyle. Sheehan should come in for Lee very nicely and I have discussed the need to bring in another type of striker to improve us; but I also mentioned Baptiste’s role in our build-up play. It should be the case that Johnston is able to not only come in for Baptiste, but also improve on him in terms of our tactical balance. Johnston is a player who is comfortable on the ball and happy to dribble forward, but vitally he’s also left-footed.

Baptiste had three main ways to get rid of the ball when pressed. He could give it to a pivot, give it to John or go long. A right-footed player on the left side cannot shape the ball around the outside of their opponent. That limits the angle of their passes wide and forward. A forward stretching the opposition defence will rarely be findable with the right foot and a fullback will have to come much deeper to receive the ball. That limitation meant we often saw John receive the ball and turn from deeper positions than did Jones on the right, allowing the opposition to defend him too easily. Likewise we didn’t see Dapo stretch play as effectively as Evatt would have wanted, because Baptiste wouldn’t have found him reliably. Having Johnston there, as odd as it may sound, could hugely benefit John and Dapo down the left. It would also allow us to switch Dapo to the stretching-runs forward and find a player on the right who can playmake inside, adding to our variety.

That leaves Gilks, with his great distribution and organisation but aging body. Answers on a postcard as to what to do there. We know we just need a younger Gilks, but where do you find one willing to come to League One?

If we can get the types of forwards we need, the tactical improvements combined with better quality players should provide dramatic results. If we fail to add depth, or can’t get the forwards, we will have a season all about stability. If we can get the players we need, we can win the league. Evatt made us the best side in League Two without all the pieces of his jigsaw in place. If he can get his targets and if they adapt to his style quickly, not many teams will be able to handle us at this level. We have the core of an excellent side already. We defend primarily by denying the opposition the ball and to do that the balance of the side needs to be there (denying the press by threatening in behind, etc), so we will see whether we can find those forwards.

TL;DR - We were the best side in League Two by the end of last season, despite having major issues with our style of play due to poorly-fitting personnel. We have already sorted out the most glaring issue (advanced playmaker) and we have retained key players. Every piece in the puzzle is interconnected, though, so we need to get the rest of the 'types' in for this to work properly. If we get the players and some luck, the system is good enough for us to beat anyone.
Last edited by GhostoftheBok on Sun Jun 13, 2021 2:39 am, edited 5 times in total.

GhostoftheBok
Dedicated
Dedicated
Posts: 1561
Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:51 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by GhostoftheBok » Sun Jun 13, 2021 1:50 am

Believe it or not, this is the cut down version. Forgive the shoddy editing, it is 2am.

BWFC_Insane
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 28545
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:07 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by BWFC_Insane » Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:57 am

Agree with most of that. I don’t really see a 39 year old keeper as being an issue though. As with any player if he stays fit I don’t see a problem. He might not play on forever but next season seems more than doable.

GhostoftheBok
Dedicated
Dedicated
Posts: 1561
Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:51 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by GhostoftheBok » Sun Jun 13, 2021 7:39 am

BWFC_Insane wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:57 am
Agree with most of that. I don’t really see a 39 year old keeper as being an issue though. As with any player if he stays fit I don’t see a problem. He might not play on forever but next season seems more than doable.
I very nearly went into that, but I didn't want to kill people.

I think it comes down to a simple question. Why did he (semi)retire? I'm not being glib, obviously he retired because he got older and he didn't get an offer from a club. But, for me, there are things that a younger Matt Gilks did that the current Gilks can't - and they're not trivial.

If our keeper could claim crosses that would be a huge improvement. Gilks organises brilliantly, but he no longer commands his box as he did. In League One this will be more of an issue as teams tend to be physically more impressive and you need your keeper smashing his way through bodies to claim. Gilks knows his reach and physicality are not what they were, so he stays at home and tasks Santos and Baptiste with heading it away.

On the other side of the game, a keeper who had the legs to step out of his box and offer a passing option would stop Santos having to take as many risks as he does with the ball. He (Santos) will get away with it less one league up.

I think we brought Crellin in because we thought we'd dominate games and the thing we really needed from a keeper was good feet as an option at the back. Crellin was crap, but we actually do need that.

Gilks can play in League One for next season, I am sure. I'm just not sure we go up if he does. I'll admit I'm of the old school "you're not a top team without a top keeper" mould, so your mileage may vary. Gilks is outstanding at what he does, I just don't think he does enough to be a top keeper at this new level.

BWFC_Insane
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 28545
Joined: Mon Jul 09, 2007 4:07 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by BWFC_Insane » Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:46 am

GhostoftheBok wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 7:39 am
BWFC_Insane wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:57 am
Agree with most of that. I don’t really see a 39 year old keeper as being an issue though. As with any player if he stays fit I don’t see a problem. He might not play on forever but next season seems more than doable.
I very nearly went into that, but I didn't want to kill people.

I think it comes down to a simple question. Why did he (semi)retire? I'm not being glib, obviously he retired because he got older and he didn't get an offer from a club. But, for me, there are things that a younger Matt Gilks did that the current Gilks can't - and they're not trivial.

If our keeper could claim crosses that would be a huge improvement. Gilks organises brilliantly, but he no longer commands his box as he did. In League One this will be more of an issue as teams tend to be physically more impressive and you need your keeper smashing his way through bodies to claim. Gilks knows his reach and physicality are not what they were, so he stays at home and tasks Santos and Baptiste with heading it away.

On the other side of the game, a keeper who had the legs to step out of his box and offer a passing option would stop Santos having to take as many risks as he does with the ball. He (Santos) will get away with it less one league up.

I think we brought Crellin in because we thought we'd dominate games and the thing we really needed from a keeper was good feet as an option at the back. Crellin was crap, but we actually do need that.

Gilks can play in League One for next season, I am sure. I'm just not sure we go up if he does. I'll admit I'm of the old school "you're not a top team without a top keeper" mould, so your mileage may vary. Gilks is outstanding at what he does, I just don't think he does enough to be a top keeper at this new level.
See for me you aren’t saying we need a younger keeper but a better one. And that I can go with though I think it highly unlikely we will get one. Given we can’t pay fees till August we rely on a free or a loan.

Also though given Keepers sit outside the squad allocation it’s a free hit to add one in other than wages.

More than happy with Gilks next season if we get an upgrade then good. But for me his biggest attribute was his experience and leadership and vocal authority. If we replace him we absolutely need a keeper as good at those things (or find centre halves with those qualities). So not a young one. I think we are highly unlikely to improve on Gilks.

User avatar
Dave Sutton's barnet
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 20456
Joined: Sun May 14, 2006 4:00 pm
Location: Hanging on in quiet desperation
Contact:

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by Dave Sutton's barnet » Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:07 am

Lovely stuff Ghost, informative and readable. Thanks.

Worthy4England
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 25479
Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 6:45 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by Worthy4England » Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:25 am

Any system can work when it's executed well and I'm ok with this being the one we've picked. I think in general our real problems were before January and that was why we luckily made third instead of walking it. That Evatt was able to see and react appropriately to pre-January was a credit to him and we'd left so much to do it wouldn't have been too much of a stretch to see us finishing in the playoff lottery, a last day draw or loss would've done it. Conversely a game we lost that we won, say Newport would've seen us Champs.

As with any system, you need to know how to play it, in one part and then be able to execute it every game or adapt it in some if it's not working. I think we're starting to see the first part, but not sure about the second.

As with last year, I'm not getting giddy at this point, pound for pound, our system should be easier to execute in L2 than L1. Often when promoted the talk is of staying up rather than HMS piss the league, so I'm mindful of that. We clearly have the ambition from top to bottom and players coming in are aware of that, which is good. Believing you can win any given game is a must have.

I'd be delighted if we went up. I think we're better than yo yo. But wouldn't be too pissed if we were upper mid table either.

GhostoftheBok
Dedicated
Dedicated
Posts: 1561
Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:51 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by GhostoftheBok » Sun Jun 13, 2021 2:55 pm

BWFC_Insane wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:46 am
See for me you aren’t saying we need a younger keeper but a better one.
That's fair. I think a younger Gilks was a better Gilks. He was always a gobby bugger.

GhostoftheBok
Dedicated
Dedicated
Posts: 1561
Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:51 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by GhostoftheBok » Sun Jun 13, 2021 2:59 pm

Worthy4England wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:25 am
Any system can work when it's executed well and I'm ok with this being the one we've picked.
I think the advantage we have is that our system needs players that are undervalued in a lot of other systems. In League One and League Two we have a chance to pick up lads who are top level for how we play, but other clubs would shy away from. Sheehan and Santos are good examples.

That value will get more difficult to find as/if we go up the leagues and other teams need similar players.

Worthy4England
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 25479
Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 6:45 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by Worthy4England » Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:27 pm

GhostoftheBok wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 2:59 pm
Worthy4England wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:25 am
Any system can work when it's executed well and I'm ok with this being the one we've picked.
I think the advantage we have is that our system needs players that are undervalued in a lot of other systems. In League One and League Two we have a chance to pick up lads who are top level for how we play, but other clubs would shy away from. Sheehan and Santos are good examples.

That value will get more difficult to find as/if we go up the leagues and other teams need similar players.
Good point, well made. :-)

Spartan2
Promising
Promising
Posts: 265
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:53 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by Spartan2 » Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:33 pm

Fascinating post ghost, enjoyed reading it. Thanks.

Harry Genshaw
Legend
Legend
Posts: 8016
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2005 10:47 pm
Location: Half dead in Panama

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by Harry Genshaw » Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:56 pm

Big learning curve for Evatt and many of the players next season. Better sides, better individuals, crowds back. We could do well and surprise a few but I don't see even a remote chance of going up again. I'll be delighted with safety and another year of adding to the foundations.
"Get your feet off the furniture you Oxbridge tw*t. You're not on a feckin punt now you know"

GhostoftheBok
Dedicated
Dedicated
Posts: 1561
Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:51 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by GhostoftheBok » Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:18 pm

Harry Genshaw wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:56 pm
Big learning curve for Evatt and many of the players next season. Better sides, better individuals, crowds back. We could do well and surprise a few but I don't see even a remote chance of going up again. I'll be delighted with safety and another year of adding to the foundations.
I think most people will regard that as the most sensible view.

Where do you think we will fail to compete with the better sides in the league?

Harry Genshaw
Legend
Legend
Posts: 8016
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2005 10:47 pm
Location: Half dead in Panama

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by Harry Genshaw » Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:01 pm

GhostoftheBok wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:18 pm
Harry Genshaw wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:56 pm
Big learning curve for Evatt and many of the players next season. Better sides, better individuals, crowds back. We could do well and surprise a few but I don't see even a remote chance of going up again. I'll be delighted with safety and another year of adding to the foundations.
I think most people will regard that as the most sensible view.

Where do you think we will fail to compete with the better sides in the league?
Good question. I think the quality of finishing and forward players will see us concede goals from opposition chances that were missed last season. Likewise, we had narrow victories at Salford and Southend that readily spring to mind, where we took advantage of poor individual errors. We'll get less of those.
"Get your feet off the furniture you Oxbridge tw*t. You're not on a feckin punt now you know"

Bruce Rioja
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 36992
Joined: Mon Jan 17, 2005 9:19 pm
Location: Drifting into the arena of the unwell.

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by Bruce Rioja » Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:19 pm

Harry Genshaw wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 8:56 pm
Big learning curve for Evatt and many of the players next season. Better sides, better individuals, crowds back. We could do well and surprise a few but I don't see even a remote chance of going up again. I'll be delighted with safety and another year of adding to the foundations.
Hear, hear!
May the bridges I burn light your way

GhostoftheBok
Dedicated
Dedicated
Posts: 1561
Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:51 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by GhostoftheBok » Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:39 pm

Harry Genshaw wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:01 pm
Good question. I think the quality of finishing and forward players will see us concede goals from opposition chances that were missed last season. Likewise, we had narrow victories at Salford and Southend that readily spring to mind, where we took advantage of poor individual errors. We'll get less of those.
I think that's fair. When you look at the top scoring sides in League Two you're talking about 70 goals, whereas in League One it's around 80. Only one side in the top 10 failed to score 60 goals. When you factor in better defences that's a big deal

We only managed 59 goals all season in League Two, so our forwards were miles off being productive enough to get us anywhere above lower mid table next season.

We also rely on possession to carry games and we only averaged 54-55% possession last season (depending which stats you look at). Later in the season we got better (up to a whopping 74% possession vs Morecambe, 69% against Walsall etc) in some games, although Salford (43%) was a bad one. One thing worth noting is that when Sarce plays in a purely advanced role we tend to have worse possession stats. We need possession to avoid conceding in League One. Santos and John especially are not players you want playing on the back foot for long periods.

Saying all that, in the last 20 games I think we only conceded 13 goals and we kept 11 clean sheets. I think we also scored 32 goals in the second half of the season, so we improved marginally in that area too. If we had played two second halves of the season to make a whole, we'd have scored 64 and conceded 30 (+34), with 22 clean sheets - making us by far the best side in the league.

That +34 goal difference is actually a stronger showing than Burton Albion, who achieved back to back promotions from 2014-2016 based largely on their style of play. However, we are nowhere close to the Luton side that did it a couple of years ago by scoring 90-odd a season and just overwhelming sides.

"Second half of the season Wanderers" is an okay platform to build on, so long as we sign well. Thus far we've done okay. We need to dramatically step up the quality with the forwards, though. If we do that then we have a shot, but I completely understand people thinking I'm nuts.

Worthy4England
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 25479
Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 6:45 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by Worthy4England » Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:52 pm

table from Jan.jpg
table from Jan.jpg (196.98 KiB) Viewed 397 times
This was the table from Jan onwards...

User avatar
Dave Sutton's barnet
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 20456
Joined: Sun May 14, 2006 4:00 pm
Location: Hanging on in quiet desperation
Contact:

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by Dave Sutton's barnet » Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:56 pm

∆ Barrow nearly as good as Newport.

GhostoftheBok
Dedicated
Dedicated
Posts: 1561
Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:51 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by GhostoftheBok » Mon Jun 14, 2021 2:54 pm

Worthy4England wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:52 pm
table from Jan.jpg This was the table from Jan onwards...
Appreciate that, Worthy. Interesting table.

Worthy4England
Immortal
Immortal
Posts: 25479
Joined: Wed May 16, 2007 6:45 pm

Re: Why we are (maybe) going to go up again

Post by Worthy4England » Mon Jun 14, 2021 3:07 pm

GhostoftheBok wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 2:54 pm
Worthy4England wrote:
Mon Jun 14, 2021 1:52 pm
table from Jan.jpg This was the table from Jan onwards...
Appreciate that, Worthy. Interesting table.
Aye - when we were talking about mis-firing forwards, there aren't too many scored shedloads more than us in the same timeframe. :-)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Dujon and 31 guests