Martin’s Musings from Bolton: plaudits for a tired squad – and tireless support

For the first time in three games, Martin O’Neill had something to smile about at the final whistle. A decent second-half recovery saved the day after Bolton doubled their early lead. Sunderland live to fight on – we’ll know tomorrow what the reward would be if the replay saw us progressing to the next round …

Jake's imagination

Dear Colin,

I’m delighted with the second half performance and that we are still in the competition.

It was a stirring effort and the players did magnificently.

They found some energy from somewhere to dig deep and fight back after conceding two sloppy goals and lose a couple of more players to injuries.

Just after their second goal we perhaps could have been forgiven for packing in, but we didn’t and neither did the crowd.

The second half was non-stop.

Still in it, says Jake
Still in it, says Jake

We had chances to go on and get a winner, [James] McClean went close and so did Titus [Bramble] when he had a header from a tight angle.

We fought really strongly and I’m delighted with the effort from the team and crowd.

Connor Wickham did very well when he came on. It was great for him to get the goal and [Craig] Gardner’s was a very special strike.

It rocketed into the back of the net – a truly terrific goal.

Bolton’s goalkeeper made a number of good saves to keep them in the game towards the end. He was outstanding for them.

We looked like we had ran out of energy at Anfield earlier in the week but today we found some resource and determination to go on.

To be in the hat for the next round is what we wanted and we’ve achieved that.

All the best,

Beware of forgeries

Martin O’Neill

15 thoughts on “Martin’s Musings from Bolton: plaudits for a tired squad – and tireless support”

  1. Malcolm said J”eremy how can you say our best centre half was sold to Norwich? ”

    One of the major components of Bruce’s SAFC team before the miserable run which saw him dismissed was the partnership between Turner and Bramble. It was a very impressive partnership which saw us conceded fewer goals than previously. Unfortunately it was brought to a premature end due to injuries to either or both of them and thanks to events involving Mr Bramble in the back of a taxi etc. Bramble has become a figure of fun amongst our supporters for reasons which escape me. For his various off the field antics, he is perhaps more deserving of contempt than laughter.

    Centre backs are important as individuals but partnerships are probably equally as significant in building a team. Michael Turner worked very well with Titus Bramble; far better than anyone else we’ve had in recent times, and perhaps I should have emphasised the issue of pairing more. It just doesn’t look as if any of our central defenders really have a shared understanding. That might have been different if Wes Brown (who I have never rated in fact) was fit and alongside O’Shea. That seems unlikely to ever happen now.

    BTW Richardson has done nothing at Fulham but I would take him back too. I just don’t fee

  2. Two center backs did the best Laurel and Hardy show Ive seen in a while.Mignolet didn t help either,the communication between those 3 was abysmal….very worrying.Fortunately we had a magnificant support and Whickam on the bench to dig us out of our self dug hole.

    Having said that we controlled most of the game,Vaughan was very good too, we should have won it at the end.Id still say a cup run does wonders and winning games gets to be a good habit, cup or league,,so I’m having no sympathy with any of this “tired” business.Play the best every week if fit.

  3. Jeremy how can you say our best centre half was sold to Norwich? He has hardly been a tower of strength for the Canaries and is no better than any of the ones we’ve got left. But when he and Ferdinand both went we were left with an injury prone and ageing central defence, although they were both ageing and injury prone too. I’m not going to defend Cuellar’s shocking pass yesterday, which would have earned me a bollocking from Tommy Clish at Houghton Grammar had I attempted such a thing in a PE lesson, but he has had some decent games this season.

    But from a fan’s perspective solutions are easy. We buy this player, we buy that player, we keep that player and get rid of another. From the club’s (i.e. the manager’s) seat it is not so straightforward.

    Players are on contracts and will be unwilling to move if they are expected to take a cut in wages. Kilgallon last season springs to mind. So the manager may have to sell the player he would rather keep when the one surplus to requirements refuses to go. There is a wage structure and so some players will be out of his budget.

    Others may have to be offloaded so he can bring others in. Why has Meyler been allowed to leave when Cattermole is injured? MON says it gives him more flexibility to bring in new faces. We still have players like El Mohamady on our books and you can bet we are paying more than 50% of his wages whilst he plays at Hull. We are apparently short of options up front as McFadden and Saha aren’t getting any playing time but it seems that Campbell (who I know you don’t rate anyway) could leave before another striker is signed. That surely has to be in an effort to stick within the wage structure.

    Yes we need at least two decent centre backs who will play together 30 games or more a season. Yes we need a couple of central midfielders and another striker. Oh and a couple of full backs wouldn’t go amiss either. Yes we have a lot of deadwood and the next couple of weeks could be interesting.

    • I wouldn’t have baulked at losing Turner for Cuellar either, and have fingers crossed that we let Meyler leave to strengthen our chances of bringing N’Diaye in if the reports are true, and actually from abroad. It’s something I said O’Neill wouldn’t do but that type of player is perfect for us right now. He could be the Mohammed Diame that Gotham City needs;
      The support down there was incredible, the kind that never ceases to amaze when you’re part of it. Nice to hear everyone came back smiling.

  4. Unfortunately Dawson appears to have played his way back into the Spurs side. Lescott would only ever be a loan.

    442 is very different when you’re chasing a game against a Championship side, as to starting a game in the Premier League. We need at least one new central midfielder before we could consider it, in my opinion. At least Connor has shown he seems up to the task if we ever do switch styles.

  5. I’m not sure why we should appreciate O’Shea more now. Maybe you are right as he always looks quite composed against pedestrian opponents and would have done ok today. Faced with anything more. then the reasons that Ferguson let him go become immediately obvious. It’s easy to blame Cuellar this week and then Bramble or O’Shea the next, when the most accomplished centre half was sold to Norwich without anyone turning a hair. None of the central defenders including Kilgallon are good enough consistently, but it’s easy to pick them off one by one with each week;s individual error. If we really want a proper defence then go and sign Dawson and Lescott. No more loans please. It’s like sleeping with the your neighbour’s wife. He gets a better deal in the end…………..well in my case anyway. Not sure about yours. 🙂

  6. i am really concerned that the team has run out of energy with so many games of the season to play. How do we re-energise? How do we become physically more able to compete and go on to win games and ultimately pick up points in the league? This happened when the team reached the golden 40 points last season and we finished the year dreadfully. I just don’t see how we can put in consecutive decent performances without the fatigue factor kicking in. I just don’t get the fact that Everton have just a small squad but they don’t seem to be affected by fatigue.
    I think we need to look at the way we play in that we need to see more of the ball as they say, the game is a lot easier with rather than without posession. Happy to be corrected

  7. You weren’t alone, Ian. I was thinking, “Bugger the Cup!” I’m thinking it even harder now.

    The Europa League’s done the Mags no favours at all. I think overall they’re in worse shape than us — ironic for them if getting into Europe helps push them back out of the Premiership.

    • The Europa league is a poison chalice. I think it stretches teams with a smaller squad. Tiredness, injuries… and its not that prestigious. Champions league is a different story , but I still think a team needs a bigger squad to cope there, otherwise their prem league position suffers.

  8. O’Neill’s team selection today was unbelievable even taking into account the idiotic system he’s been employing, and failing with, all season. We’ve had no attacking threat all season and so, when Sess is out, he uses Gardner as his second striker… we are even more negative than normal ! Vaughan was our best player but it was Wickham who made the difference, as most fans knew he would. If O’Neill doesn’t swallow his pride and now give Fletch & Wickham a run together then he needs to be sectioned.

    • It was a different system really. Gardner is the more advanced of a midfield 3, whereas Sess plays just off the striker.

      This is why Gardner often scores when he plays here, he isn’t lost and like a chicken without a head in a 2 man central midfield system. He should play right back or play here if he is of any use. The latter creates a dilemma as to where Sess can hit in, however.

  9. Is it only me that was hoping we’d be defeated today? I think the extra fa cup games could injure our prem survival chances.
    Danny Rose illustrates my point. He picked up an injury. Fletcher looks tired as does Ceullar.
    The centre back pairing with Bramble is a nightmare. For those people who bash O Shea, I bet you’re appreciating him more now. We do need a stronger back four and need to buy in the Jan window.

    A replay was the worst scenario for me.
    Nice for Wickham. I think we should be seeing more of him. I’d rather play him than Campbell.

    One of the players we’ve been linked with is N’Diaye. I think he’s exactly the type of midfielder I’d like to see at S’land. Dynamic, strong, box to box, grabs the odd goal.

    Once again the Mags providing a bit of sunshine.
    I think Ba is a huge loss to them. Cisse has the potential to be as good as him but he lacks consistency & the physical aerial presence.

  10. How many times more is Cuellar going to put us behind before he gets a rest? He cannot play next week against West Ham as we may not be able to get 2 goals against them to make up for the ones he gives away.
    Delighted that Wickham got a goal and we seem to have done well with he and Fletcher paired as a genuine front 2. Hopefully food for thought for MON

    • I like the idea of a big front two. If we need to change it up and go long-ball, then Fletch and Wickham can win flick ons for each other.
      And the element of surprise. Allardyce won’t be expecting a big front two. In this case I’d play Sess left wing in place of McClean and give him license to wander.
      We’re also (apparently) in for Graham from Swansea. I would certainly pair him with Fletch if needbe.

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