ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - Bolton Wanderers
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Bolton Wanderers
Posted by James Derbyshire on 09/19/2010

He's Scottish. Wait, no, he's American. He has blonde highlights, an American swagger. He's ten stone soaking wet, what a lightweight, he'll never make it up here...

Introducing Stuart Holden, the future of Bolton Wanderers. The man who can get Bolton Wanderers playing the style of football that Owen Coyle wants, that the fans crave.

Originally set to sign for Burnley, Stuart Holden followed Coyle to Bolton and despite having only played around 10 games for the Wanderers, he already looks like a star.

I saw something against Aston Villa at the weekend that I had not seen for a long while, we went to a club, and to a ground, where we were expected to lose, and not only got something from the game, but deserved more.

This season, whether it be home or away, we have seen the way Coyle sets his team up. You can accuse his tactics of being naive, they probably are, and we will take a beating here and there. But I'd take that, as long as we go out with this positive attitude and pick up points from losing positions, pick up points where we are not expected to do so, and not settle for a one goal lead, but actually go out and look for a second.

Of course the new style will take some getting used to, even for us fans. Drawing 1-1 at Villa Park, I was biting my nails and pulling my hair out when Coyle chose to sub Fabrice Muamba for Mark Davies. An attacking sub, that I might have expected had we been drawing at home with Blackpool or Wigan, but away at Villa!? He's mad. He's naive...He knows a lot more than me. With Davies on we looked even more solid, Villa rarely threatened us as the game drew to a finish, and with Davies' probing runs and comfortable possesion, we actually looked the more likely victors.

Our goal to was a brilliant example of how far we've come. The build up without going back and counting must have been seven or eight passes long. The finish, superb by Kevin Davies. He might not be a natural goal poacher like Klasnic, but when he gets in the box, he still has the touch and accuracy to get the ball down and into the net.

But back to Holden, whilst he might not have the world class final ball or creative eye of a potential superstar like Jack Wilshere, he has everything we are looking for, if we are to mould the team of former cloggers under Megson, into a team who goes out and plays football on the ground.

He is comfortable in possession, comfortable running with the ball with his head up, spotting the correct forward thinking passes, his work rate is top notch and despite his size, he is not afraid to throw himself into a tackle.

I'd argue that in the first five games, in terms of consistancy, Holden has been the pick of the bunch. And I think there is more to come, it will be interesting to see with time and experience whether Holden can add goals to his game, because if he can, there is no reason why he cannot establish himself at the level (and higher) that Kevin Nolan was at before he went off the boil. You have to feel for Mark Davies, who whenever he comes on looks bright, but with Holden and Muamba, will have a hard slog breaking into the first team.

I would hope we are looking at getting Holden tied down on a long contract. Whilst the likes of Cahill and Lee may become hard to hang onto, in an ideal world, there is no reason that Holden and Muamba can't be our midfield duo for the next five or six years.

The result, and more the performance against Villa was a great boost of confidence ahead of our cup-tie with Burnley.

"Into the third minute of added on time with the score at 0-0, Robbie Blake stands over the freekick, 30 yards out, he runs up, hits it....OHH TOP CORNER, IT'S IN! 1-0, the shorts are down, Bad Beat Bob is out, he's kissing the Bolton badge as he makes his way over to Coyle, Stewart and Steve Davis in a mass celebration in front of the stone-faced Burnley bench. Even respected journalist Alan Nixon is on his feet in the press area, and Clarets Mad has gone into meltdown" *wakes up from dream* ;-)


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