It takes something fairly bright to draw the eye away from Frank Lampard when he is making history and revealing that he is not history.
Lampard became the first Premier League midfielder to score three hat-tricks yesterday and the general role he played in Chelsea's eighth consecutive win here was enough to challenge the idea that his two demotions to Andre Villas-Boas' substitutes' bench makes him yesterday's man. "He has this sense of timing into the box. Today he found it to perfection. His numbers were always the most impressive part of his game," Villas-Boas said of him last night, a more personal tribute than usual, though hardly effusive. "It is not a question of age but of competence."
But that account of events did not factor in the blinding figure of Owen Coyle's goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, whose face was almost as red as his fluorescent pink jersey by half-time. Bogdan has often attracted attention, with his red hair and penchant for bright orange jerseys earning him the nickname "Wotsit" before the Bolton players came up with "Shaggy" – the hapless owner of Scooby Doo who is not terribly good at solving problems.
The 24-year-old Hungarian certainly did not possess many clues, rapidly fumbling two goals which had Chelsea 4-0 up in 27 minutes. But his failings were part of the general collapse of a side whose 11 defeats in 12 games since Daniel Sturridge's goal sent them to victory over Arsenal last Easter has engendered a sense of deep, dangerous decline.
Coyle displayed his usual ebullience last night, in the face of a defeat which had dozens of supporters heading out of the stadium after just 20 minutes. "It was a horrendous fixture list, playing five of the teams who will finish in the top six and we've come through that with no points," he said. "Young Alex Bogdan is going to have a terrific career – no doubt about it. He's got to show character to come through."
For all the gloom in chairman Phil Gartside's face, his friendship with Coyle means matters must deteriorate considerably more for the Scot's job to fall under threat. But Coyle's side, who have conceded 16 goals in six games during their worst start in 109 years, look more vulnerable at the back than any team in the division, and the popular narrative of how Coyle's season and a half at the Reebok has brought creativity – where there was only grim functionality under unpopular Gary Megson – is becoming scrambled.
It was Coyle who allowed Jussi Jaaskelainen's deputy Ali al-Habsi to leave for Wigan – though the Omanian admittedly pleaded to go – and Coyle who has shown a faith in left-back Paul Robinson, whose destruction by Daniel Sturridge propelled Chelsea on their way yesterday, that Megson never had. David Ngog does not yet look like a match for the departed Johan Elmander and Coyle didn't get around to explaining why Ricardo Gardner, a left-back on loan at relegated Preston last year, was left to hold yesterday's midfield against the might of Chelsea.
Villas-Boas has revealed how Coyle, whom he knows from a coaching course, called him perhaps 30 times this summer, entreating Chelsea to let him take back Sturridge for another season on loan. "If you think I'm letting him go Coyley, you must be mad," the Portuguese replied, and it required 92 seconds for events to reveal why, as Sturridge leaned into Juan Mata's corner to head home, with Gretar Steinsson charitably allowing him the freedom. Robinson allowed Sturridge the most liberties, though, and the forward accepted, destroying Robinson as completely as Jermaine Pennant did in the 5-0 FA Cup semi-final defeat to Stoke City. It clearly did not fall within Martin Petrov's job description to help.
Sturridge, whose performance warrants serious consideration for the England squad who travel to Montenegro this week, had squared for Lampard to drill home the second goal before he tested Bogdan's shortcomings. The Hungarian fumbled Sturridge's shot on his inside post for 3-0 and then – two minutes later – David Luiz's 30-yard effort, which dropped for Lampard's second. Few Premier League defences know how it feels to be 4-0 down in half an hour, though the one Coyle bequeathed Burnley managed it in 20 minutes against Manchester City two seasons ago.
Coyle's team talk did manage to summon something from his side. They registered a goal of their own a minute after the restart when Dedryck Boyata was unmarked to head in Petrov's corner. And though Lampard re-extended the deficit, revealing that capacity to time runs into the box, Kevin Davies came close to converting Petrov's cut-back, which the home side claimed had crossed the line. However, Bolton have a long road ahead if they are not the ones who will be history.
Substitutes: Bolton Knight 6 (Steinsson, h-t), Tuncay 5 (Ngog, 75), Eagles 6 (Gardner, 75).
Chelsea Ivanovic 6 (Bosingwa, 54), Mikel 6 (Ramires, 56), Anelka 6 (Mata, 73).
Booked: Bolton Ngog. Chelsea Luiz, Terry.
Man of the match Lampard.
Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Bolton 44% Chelsea 56%.
Attempts on target: Bolton 10 Chelsea 14.
Referee P Walton (Northants).
Att 24,657.Reuse content