Spyin' Kop: Bolton Wanderers (Home), Sunday 2nd December

Posted by blurred on November 30, 2007, 02:15:22 PM

Football’s a funny old game, as the saying goes. You never can be sure of exactly what’s around the corner. Hardly anyone would have given a chance to Bolton of coming away with anything ahead of their recent trip to the Allianz Arena, and again the football world was ready to watch Manchester United claim another 3 points at the Reebok Stadium last week. A fantastic 2-2 draw and a dogged 1-0 win later, and claims that the ‘Ginger Mourinho’ has taken residence on the touchlines of a certain stadium in Horwich are now bandied around the press.

Gary Megson has stepped in and steadied the Bolton ship that was foundering under the new regime of Sammy Lee. Following on from the tremendous success of everyone’s favourite big-headed gobshite and stepping out from his shadow was never going to be easy, and ultimately proved too much for little Sam, as he became yet another of the early season managerial casualties who had struggled to make the step up from being part of the backroom staff of the previous boss. He couldn’t stamp his own brand of football on a reluctant Wanderers squad, but they have appeared to take to Megson’s methods in much quicker fashion, and are now apparently approaching their form of old. It’s a long way to go to the end of the season, but Bolton ultimately appear a different prospect under Megson, who has calmed the immediate fears of relegation as his side have picked up points in each of their last 4 league outings. 

It is against that backdrop that Bolton arrive at Anfield. Not a happy hunting ground for the Wanderers, who to my knowledge have never won here in the Premier League, and who find Liverpool in great form (at least on the pitch). 17 goals in our last 4 games has been a fantastic return, and with only the one goal conceded, we’re remaining steadfast at the back as well. Liverpool will be hoping to continue their good form, and hope that recent fears over the future of Rafa Benitez have been quashed following the shows of support, and indeed the performance of the team, in the midweek fixture against Porto.

Liverpool versus Bolton Wanderers
Anfield, 2nd December. 3pm Kick Off.

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

As ever, Spyin’ Kop visited the mostly friendly The Wanderer ahead of our fixture, and was greeted with a great response to our questions.

SK: I guess this question might have a slightly different answer had I asked it last week, but how’s the season going for you so far? Is it as good/bad as you hoped/feared?

Fatshaft: As bad as feared when Norman Wisdom got the job. Now looking much better than feared when Ginger Mourinho got the job.

Abdoulaye’s Twin: I was expecting mid table, what with UEFA and the ACN and a new manager. Not exactly gone to plan so far.

H Pedersen: To quote some folks from your neck of the woods, it's getting better all the time. We all knew that the transition to post-Allardyce life wouldn't be seamless, but few would have expected the dire start to the season that we got. Megson seems to have stopped the bleeding.

BWFC Insane: With Sam leaving we were a little bit uncertain. Sammy Lee made some encouraging noises but by the start of the season (well I'd say 3 games in) we were all staring relegation in the face. Things have taken an upturn recently thankfully.

SK: Big Sam, Little Sam… Ginger Gary? Has Megson done enough to convince you that he’s the man who can take Bolton forward?

BWFC Insane: YES. Early days, but Megson is my kind of manager. No cliches. No messing around. Tough, but seems to get on with the players. We are now playing to "get results" rather than to "entertain" or play "nice football". Thats the way it always fucking should be.

norm the jedi: The whole affair said more about the team basically a good coach asked them to step outside their comfort zone - Dummy in the corner - Enter the most negative manager in history.. for me Lee wasn't as bad as he was painted and Megson is no Messiah - but that said he has revisited the Allerdyce 'no one likes us they can go fuck' ethos and delivered a win against Salford Red Sox so clearly he is The ginger Mourhino - but I still doubt he is the man to take us forward and will wait to see how we do between now and January against our rivals in the bottom 8..

chris: I'm hopeful. He got a lot of (undeserved, in my opinion) opposition when he first came, but has shown improvement, and deserves the chance. He has a much better squad than when he was relegated with West Brom, so it isn't fair to make comparison with that. Though he needs to show he can lead us to victory over the smaller teams - results against Man U. and Munich are brilliant, but we still need to beat the poorer teams.

H Pedersen: Forward in what sense? Do I think he'll build on our consistent top 8 finishes and start pushing for the Champions League? No, but I don't think that's really what he was brought in for. I do think he'll keep us up, which is all we would have asked for when he was appointed.

SK: Changing horses mid-stream – were you one of the voices calling for Sammy Lee to go, or do you feel he was harshly done by?

Gertie: I guess I'm a softie at heart, I always feel bad when the manager gets the boot. Especially Little Sammy, it was like kicking a puppy. I wanted him to do well for us, but he seemed doomed in the rather wide shadow of the previous Sam. I would like it if folks stop going on and on about how they knew he was rubbish and make cakky comments months later, it's all in the past now so as far as I'm bothered let's leave the Little Sammy bashing behind and start looking up the table please.

Worthy4England: Yes, I was very near the top of the list of "knee-jerkers". I respect the little fella as a coach, but it was obvious two games in that he hadn't got the team playing as a single unit. They looked like they'd never met each other. I would have cut him loose earlier than he eventually lasted

Montreal Wanderer: It is always harsh but he didn't do the job and it appeared not to be getting better

SK: Who have been your best performers this year?

Abdoulaye’s Twin: Davies and Anelka are the obvious ones. Andy O'Brien wasn't a popular signing but he has made a massive difference to our defence so would have to give him a shout.

Durham Wanderer: Anelka has kept up his world class form, although a special mention should go to the unsung hero Andy O'Brien - since he joined us he's been immense!

Worthy4England: Anelka, Hunt, Andy O'Brien, Davies and Diouf

Soldier of the White Army: Anelka has come into his own having got used to the players and system, but it's the dark horse that no-one would have thought more then a back up player that has impressed me the most so far. That man is Andy O'Brien. He'll be player of the season if he continues the way he's going. Guthrie has also been very impressive, and of course the legend that is Kevin Davies (though that more or less goes without saying!)

SK: Anyone not coming up to scratch?

Durham Wanderer: Wilhelmsson and Braaten haven’t been as good as expected, apart from that though cant really single anyone out which is strange considering how shit we've been!!

norm the jedi: Take your pick from the oldest and slowest midfield in motion picture history

montreal wanderer: A few - but were they given the proper opportunity? I'm not sure.

Fatshaft: Gerald Cid & Jloyd Samuel in particular. Nolan was worse than ever but seems to be finding his feet under Meggers

WhiteArmy: No-one in particular, but plenty of room for improvement across the squad as a whole.

SK: Attendances at the Reebok – were they symptomatic of a side with a losing start to the season, or are there wider issues with the support at Bolton? Kick off times? Prices?

Abdoulaye’s Twin: All of the above though less so the bad start. Bolton support has been fickle for many a year and now that the novelty of the Premier League has gone we're left with the hardcore plus a few. Unfortunately we will always struggle due to our proximity to the likes of Utd, Manchester City and even the Liverpool teams. The club have to get into the hearts and minds of the local youngsters to keep them from supporting the likes of Utd. Also the saturation of football in the media and tv has had an impact, not just on us but most of the Premier League sides barring the 'biggest'.

Gertie: There seems a wider problem for teams who don't attract the day tourists like the top 5/6 & London sides do. Ourselves, Wigan, T'rovers, Boro don't get good crowds. We fall into the bracket of rubbish losing starts which didn't encourage the waverers, but I think for a lot of ordinary folk the shine has worn off the premier league bubble, its overexposure, mega wages for averageness and ‘scared about bad results’ tictacs doesn't make it the draw it was 6 or so years ago. This is my first season without a ST and I do miss the buzz and anticipation of attending games, I am thankful for my healthier bank balance which is more crucial to me at the moment due to changes in circumstances. I've watched games on the interweb and have a sky subscription, plus the televised UEFA games, so don't feel I've missed too much in this internet age. I'd love to be back at the Reebok, when finances allow, but until then I'm looking after me at the moment. Sorry BWFC you're down the list.

Soldier of the White Army: I'd say that playing in Europe again may have a lot to do with it. Many are saving up those games, not to mention that we play a lot more Sunday games because of it.

SK: From support to finances (for the two are linked); Bolton are well known for their parsimonious chairman not wanting to over-extend your financial commitments – with sides like West Ham and Man City coming under new (rich) ownership, and even sides like Sunderland attracting 40,000+ crowds and being able to splash the cash, is there a case to be made that the time has come for Bolton to speculate to accumulate?

Abdoulaye’s Twin: No. We've been well run in terms of finances since Gartside took over. The only way to ensure we are still here in 20 years time is to invest wisely and try to get more from our academy. The Premier League is not the be all and end all. I'd rather be in the Championship than doing a Leeds or Forrest and barely surviving.

norm the jedi: One mans parsimonious is another mans prudent - Tottenham have had real value for their cash splashing and Sunderland - trying so hard to emulate Newcastle… must be something in the water that makes the entire North east delusional

Soldier of the White Army: I see no reason to. We've been in the Premier League a long time now, without having to break the bank at any time. I think you have to look at available budgets and put things into more perspective. For instance, Bolton paying 8 million for Anelka, is the same as Liverpool paying 26 million for Torres. It's the same financial commitment from the Chairmen of each club, just on different levels. Our yearly return has us deeper in debt, probably because of Anelka's wages etc, so we are already committing over our realistic limit

montreal wanderer: I think parsimonious is not only pejorative but incorrect - prudent might be a better word - splashing out money that we don't have does not seem to me a particularly clever approach at this juncture

BWFC Insane: No. The Chairman actually makes very little impact here. The owner has his own money invested in the club and its his decision. However, we are essentially broke. We launched a review of our marketing strategy in the summer and the owner had to pay for this out of his own pocket as there was no money within the club left to pay for it.

SK: Bolton are given £10m by a mysterious benefactor in January - who does it buy?

H Pedersen: This isn't an easy question because the wage structure has to be considered. I'd like to see us bring in some experienced players at right back and center back - for example Madrid's Salgado and your Hyypia - but while we would be able to pay the transfer fee, it might upset the dressing room if we match the wages they're getting at their "big clubs." I'd like to see Guthrie's loan made permanent, and if the rumors are true we should try to get Ben Haim back. Gera sounds like a resonable risk at under £1 million although I can't help but think we should be aiming a bit higher for a creative midfielder. I won't mention forwards because we need Anelka to stay, period.

Fatshaft: A centre half and creative midfielder

WhiteArmy: I personally would love a playmaker in midfield. Arteta would be nice tyvm.

Worthy4England: We still need extra cover at Centre Half and Full backs in my opinion.

Soldier of the White Army: Primus, Gravesen, Guthrie and Faye would be nice!

SK: I probably don’t have to ask what the best performance of the year was – what was your view/experience of the Allianz Arena?

Fatshaft: Not there, was in the pub, my view was a bit well, blurred

Gertie: I tried to pretend that I didn't care, but of course I did care LOTS. I was scared, nervous, terrifed, excited, elated, proud, happy, sad all rolled together. Having to stay at home and be calm whilst pretending that I didn't really mind if we lost because it wasn't the premier league was a killer. When Super Kev scored THAT GOAL, I jumped up, screamed, the cats scrambled up the curtains, the baby somersalted and I had to retire to bed at full time to bring my blood pressure to less than heart attack levels. I picked the worst season to be in this condition.

WhiteArmy: Fabulous stadium and atmosphere and a great result to boot. The pics don't do it justice, you had to be there.

Lord Kangana: Bayern was the second best Wanderers occasion I've ever been to. (It makes me understand now why people bang on about 'European nights').

People were lovely, beer was great, stadium is light years better than anything we have in this country, and the match was one of those 'going mental' times when paying through the nose for football makes sense (or was that the beer?).

mummywhycantieatcrayons: Absolutely awesome.

It really did take my breath away for a few minutes to be in that sixty-nine thousand-seater stadium, the home of one of the biggest clubs in the world, following little Bolton Wanderers who have been in the fourth division in my lifetime.

To go 1 - 0 up in the first ten minutes was unbelievable - I looked up at the clock when 15 minutes had gone, and it felt like half a lifetime had elapsed - I was already seriously fatigued and had sung my throat away already. No stamina at all....

Bayern played some great stuff for their two goals and Ribery is a serious handful - nothing flashy, just great balance, pace, vision, and brilliantly simple technique.

It had already been an unforgettable day, but for our hero honest Kevin to thump in the equaliser really made it a great occasion.

SK: Bolton have always had that bit of a ‘bogey side’ effect with Liverpool, going back to those infamous FA Cup matches, although recent results at Anfield have gone in our favour. Are you hopeful of coming away with a point, or more, come Sunday?

WhiteArmy: A point on the back of the first half of our 'double' against the Red Filth would do very nicely thanks.

Montreal Wanderer: I am hopeful of more, would settle for 1 (they all help) but I'm not over-optimistic

Abdoulaye’s Twin: Heart says a point, however, with UEFA on Thursday, no Guthrie or Nolan I think realistically we'll come away with nothing.

chris: We might pinch a point, but I doubt we can win. Our defence is better now, if we can limit your chances we could do well.

SK:Get your crystal ball out – where will Bolton finish in the league this season?

Fatshaft: Above Wigan, Derby, Sunderland, Brum Fulham & Newcastle.

BWFC Insane: Anywhere above bottom three will do.

Worthy4England: From the start we had, anywhere 17th up will be fine by me.

Soldier of the White Army: 11th, if we finish above Newcastle I'll piss myself!

SK: Any words for the lovely denizens of RAWK? Any rants you'd like to get off your chest? Any anything?

Batman: Yeah, Brookside was always crap, and take Sinbad back from Corrie, he isn’t fit for it. Same for Craig Charles. Oh, and sort out the Mathew Street Festival – I was reet looking forward to that.

officer dibble: No real gripe with most Liverpool fans I know actually, it’s the voice of those idiots who have never seen a game but make their noises on the keyboard that as ever piss me off with most clubs. Go and support your local team.

Gertie: Since you got rid of the really cute ones, there isn't any point watching Liverpool any more :(

mummywhycantieatcrayons: Yes - thanks very much for giving us Danny Guthrie - how much do you want for him?

At only 20 years old, he really is a very promising player indeed. His energy and enthusiasm for work have been a breath of fresh air in our pedestrian, ageing midfield, as has his creative and purposeful approach to the game, which he can actually implement with ambidexterity - a rare thing indeed in the modern game!

His only negatives are that he lacks the stature you'd usually want in a central midfielder, and his ball retention and tackling can sometimes err towards the naive side; but I've little doubt that all three of these things will improve as he get older and he could well be one of the top midfielders in the division in 3 or 4 years' time.

This could just as easily have been the answer the question about an influx of cash in Januray, but given that he is ours until the end of the season, there are perhaps more immediately pressing needs to attend to, especially when you consider the effect of the ACN.

I just hope that the pressure on Benitez from above to generate funds for his targets works in our favour in this case, and that he has been too busy 'focusing on coaching and training his team' to notice how well Danny has been doing with us.

Once again, massive thanks to those who replied (obviously I couldn't fit everyone's responses in). All the best for the rest of the season, chaps (after Sunday, of course). :)


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