Spyin' Kop - Bolton home

Posted by blurred on December 30, 2006, 01:55:00 AM

Football is a sport of coincidences, and football fans do love a good coincidence. The portents of Liverpool’s European Cup triumph of 2005 were trotted out on such a regular basis, that I fear should we progress to the later stages of the competition this year that RAWKites will be queuing up to assassinate the Pope, get Deirdre married in Corrie, and be flinging their knickers towards Prince Charles in an attempt to woo him from Camilla into another wedding (mostly female RAWKites, I hasten to add, but with one or two of the male ones it wouldn’t surprise me…)

Y’know, it seems like only a year ago that I was writing a Spyin’ Kop piece for Bolton on New Year’s Day, and as luck and coincidence would have it, yet again we’re playing our neighbours from down the road as the first fixture in a calendar year. What does that mean for us in 2007? Another magnificent FA Cup run? Disappointment in Europe? Who knows?

But the new year is not only a time for looking forward, but also for reflection on that year gone by. Here’s what was written when the two sides last met on New Year’s Day, at the Reebok:

In our first game of last year we went down on New Year’s Day 1-0 at home to Chelsea, although Rafa’s side that starts 2006 is in demonstrably ruder health than the class of 12 months ago. Indeed, we find ourselves in the middle of our best run of results in over a decade, after notching up our ninth successive league win in the Merseyside derby yesterday, and having only conceded two goals in over two calendar months since our reversal at Crystal Palace in the League Cup on October 25th.

Our first opponents of the new year, Bolton Wanderers, are also ticking along quite nicely. Seventh in the table at the time of writing and progressing well in the UEFA Cup, Sam Allardyce’s men must be fairly content with life at the Reebok this year.

It’s remarkable how the seasons appear to have mirrored themselves – Liverpool have yet again put together a run of form, and defensive solidity in the November/December period on the back of an unacceptable defeat in the capital, although not quite as exceptional as last year following the recent defeat last time out against Blackburn. Likewise Bolton are confounding expectations as, without the distraction of European football this term, they find themselves in an even loftier position.

So, is the class of 2007 better equipped for glory than that which rang in the new year last time out? Rafa was certainly busy in the summer, procuring the services of a wealth of attacking talent. Hopefully we are now starting to see the fruits of this expenditure, with Kuyt settling in nicely despite off the field family problems, and Bellamy starting to play with the promise that we all knew he had after ridding himself of the distraction of a recent court case, along with the likes of Pennant and Gonzalez now playing on a regular basis. The jury may still be out about some, or indeed all, but the signs are looking encouraging. With the mooted investment seemingly on the brink of becoming a reality, are we close enough to that final step towards becoming a real title challenging side? Perhaps 2007 will turn out to be one of the most pivotal years in our recent history.

Moving on to the game, and our visitors this time round, Bolton Wanderers – what of them? A ‘bogey side’ if ever there was one, and a tricky opponent at the best of times, they find themselves flying high in joint 3rd position after 20 games, and above Liverpool.

Recent Form (last six games): WWWWLL

Despite an ‘expected’ defeat against Chelsea and an ‘unexpected’ defeat against Reading at the back-end of November, Bolton’s recent form has been very good, having won 4 on the bounce in the league, and conceding only one goal in that time. A good festive period for Sam’s men could see them mount a serious challenge for the top spots this time round, and without the distractions of European football (the faltering finish that they experienced to last year’s campaign, following a string of extra games with a relatively small squad, should be a thing of the past), and we could see them as much more realistic contenders.

Bolton Factoids

The first Mexican to play for an English team was Jared Borgetti

They have spent more time in the top flight since the league’s inception than out of it

Nat Lofthouse is the club’s record league goal scorer with 255 goals

Jason McAteer’s move to Liverpool was the biggest transfer fee that Bolton had ever received.

Bolton Wanderers - Major Honours:

FA Cup Winners:
1923, 1926, 1929, 1958

Runner up: 1894, 1904, 1953

Division One Champions: 1997

Division Two Champions: 1909, 1978

Division Three Champions: 1973

Division One Play-off winners: 1995, 2001

League Cup Runner up: 1995, 2004

And so, onto the questions, which have been ably answered by the cyber-denizens of The Wanderer, as per usual. My thanks to all those who took the time to answer, here’s a selection of the replies to Spyin’ Kop’s questions:

How has the season been shaping up so far?

Chris: Happy on the whole with our position, though we've probably got more points than we deserve (Villa, Blackburn and Watford matches).

Tangodancer: About right. Usual mix of decent play, some bad stuff and a little luck each way.

Soldier of the White Army: Very well everything taken into consideration. We have done really well as a defensive unit thoughout (I believe Juusi has the second most clean sheets in the Premiership) and when you think that we have achieved this without Gardner, our best player last season, or any recognised full back that's quite something. We have suffered some bad losses yet we’re still up there. If we can enter 2007 in the top six I would be more then happy!

enfieldwhite: The usual highs and lows, just in different places.

What are your expectations for this season? Have they changed from day one?

Keveh: I've always thought that we could reach Europe, and that hasn't changed. We've done pretty well with some awful displays, so if we step our game up a notch we will hopefully get some more results in out favour.

Bruce Rioja: My expectations have changed in so far as: We could finish anywhere between fifth and fifteenth, such is the similarity between the majority of sides in the league, and I wasn't expecting that.

Batman: I expected top ten, now I expect top 6 MINIMUM

David Lee’s Hair: Survival at first, hopefully UEFA now

Loyal White: Expectations have stayed the same - upper-mid table and hopefully make the UEFA. Shows how far we have come in recent years when you’re expecting Bolton to finish in such a place.

Who do you think is your most important player(s) so far this year?

mofgimmers: I think many will opt for Diouf or Speed but for me, the man who literally saves us time and time again is Jussi.

Norm the Jedi: Gary Speed… Must be knackered, he's carried Kevin Nolan around all year and been the fulcrum around which we have been built.

runningonbravado: Speedo, Dioufy and Jussi. Speed's just amazing for his age, Diouf is always on form and attacks beautifully and Jussi is our best player hands down and I think he showed that last week.

Luna: Diouf and Jaaskelainen, without a doubt. Jussi has been virtually faultless, and Diouf has found the form that made Liverpool pay £8M for him, and then some.

What're the views on Anelka, now he's had some time to settle? Was he worth the large outlay?

communistworkethic: Still not totally convinced. There are flashes of brilliance but I even do them! There may be more to his game now with his work rate but I don't care, I want goals. Sam's gone on enough about the missing part of the jigsaw being a finisher and now we aren't giving him anything to finish, and when we do he looks ponderous. Has the touch of a cumbersome oaf in calipers.

mofgimmers: To be honest, I think the fans needed it more than the squad. I mean, he scored a peach against The Gunners, but was it £8million quid’s worth of goal? It felt like it at the time... I've decided to be patient with him but I've been pretty impressed so far.

runningonbravado: Yeah I rate him highly. Took a while to find his feet and settle but I think he's on his way now. I imagine he'll end the season well and then get a shedload next year.

Tangodancer: He will be. He's made a difference up front and he'll get better and better.

One player signs for Bolton in January - who would you like it to be? Or which position should it be for?

Bruce Rioja: A Vincent Candela type one-man back-four.

David Lee’s Hair: Creative midfielder in an ideal world, I'd be happy with Dhorasoo. Any player I could have probably Billy Jones at Crewe, not a creative midfielder I admit, but versatile playing anywhere in the back or midfield and young!

Hisroyalgingerness: We should get cover for the back in some form if Ben Haim is on his way as rumoured. Someone mentioned Kieron Richardson and I think he would add something to our squad

Loyal White: We're crying out for some creativity and mobility in midfield. I'd like to see us buy Danny Murphy, but anyone who can come in and do the business will be more than welcomed.

officer dibble: Full backs, we are crying out for some cover. And a creative midfielder who could adapt to our system (that seems to be why Sam isn't fancying Idan Tal). Most important signings would be getting to be honest and Davo to sign deals.

communistworkethic: Me, I can play in all position across the back four, in goal, midfield and even up-front. I'll give 100% every game and never complain, I won't even want huge wages. What? Why are you laughing? Pedersen gets away with it why can't I??

What's your abiding memory (personal or footie) from 2006?

Tangodancer: Last game of last season against Birmingham, their great supporters and Flipperman.

communistworkethic: Catching my cock in my zip, don't let women try and tell you pregnancy is painful, it can't be as bad as trying to get the zip undone again!

David Lee’s Hair: Spanking arse a few times… both personally and football ;D

Keveh: Beating Arsenal AGAIN! You just can't get enough of that.

Batman: England getting knocked out of the World Cup. Hilarious!

BWFC in the bloodline: Anelka v Arsenal, and singing 'you’re getting sacked in the morning' to Pardew.

Your winners of the League, FA Cup, League Cup and Champions League this season are...?

communistworkethic: Chelsea (3 points) , Man U (2-1 in final v Arsenal), Chelsea (1-0 v Pompey) , Barcelona

mofgimmers: League - Chelsea, League Cup - Chelsea, Champions League - Who cares and The FA Cup... us... it would be fitting to win the first FA Cup at the new Wembley after we did it in 1923

runningonbravado: Man Utd, Bolton, Chelsea, Chelsea

Bruce Rioja: League - Chelsea. Although Man U are by far and away the best side I've seen this year, if you scratch their surface you're into John O'Shea and Darren Fletcher territory, so Chelsea purely for their strength in depth.
F.A. Cup - You lot.
League Cup - Chelsea
Champs League - Barca

Chris: Man U, unfortunately, Liverpool, Spurs, Barca

Loyal White Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea.

Make one outlandish prediction for the coming year.

Tangodancer: Beckham joins Bolton. ;D

enfieldwhite: I will meet and marry Angelina Jolie after fighting Brad Pitt for her.

Batman: RAWK members will not give sarky answers to honestly answered questions.

Chris: Bolton to qualify and reach group stage of Champions League

Bruce Rioja: Graeme Souness to take over at Charlton.

communistworkethic: A premiership player will be caught felating a goat while being masterbated by an X-factor finalist (he'll probably play for West Ham).

What would you consider as an acceptable return from your 4 Christmas/New Year fixtures?

Luna: Newcastle and Portsmouth at home should both be wins, considering we've got 3 points from both corresponding fixtures, and I quite fancy a draw against City, so 7 should be our aim. Anything we get from you lot will be a bonus.

Soldier of the White Army: I'd be happy with six points. delighted with seven.

Where do you expect Bolton and Liverpool to finish in the Premier League?

Loyal White: Liverpool will finish 3rd or 4th, Bolton anywhere from 5th to 10th depending on our late season form.

communistworkethic: At home to Villa and Charlton respectively

mofgimmers: Liverpool will no doubt finish strongly as it always seems to take half a season for them to get going. That said, the top half is so tight point-wise that it's virtually impossible to predict.

If you're a regular matchgoer, what can we expect from the travelling Bolton faithful? Noisy bunch?

Keveh: We don't have many chants, and the ones we do have aren't that original. But when there's a lot of us we make a decent amount of noise. Whenever I've been to Anfield our supporters have been excellent.

Hisroyalgingerness: When we went 2-0 up against Sheff Utd we started a chant "down with the Manchester City" but 5 lines into it, it changed to "down on your sister"... you can expect wit like that

communistworkethic: Expect the ever original "wearetheoneanonlywanderers" and lots of "aye, aye calm down" and "sing while you're theivin" all rounded off with a chorus of "Fat Spanish Waiter"

Finally, care to predict the score?

Loyal White: Liverpool 1 Bolton 0, and a crap game to boot!

Soldier of the White Army: 1-1

Chris: 2-2

Hisroyalgingerness: We'll win, 2-1

Luna: 2-1 to ‘Pool

Bruce Rioja: 2-1

Keveh: We always seem to lose at Anfield, 2 – 1

View Comments | Post Comment