Spyin' Kop: Bolton Wanderers v Liverpool, 15th Nov

Posted by blurred on November 14, 2008, 12:36:53 AM

This Saturday sees Liverpool make the relatively short trip east to face our northwest neighbours Bolton Wanderers. Had this been preview been written two weeks ago it would have been billed as a top versus bottom clash, as Bolton were rooted in the relegation zone while the Reds were flying high. Such is the nature of this year's Premier League, however, that back-to-back wins for the Whites have boosted them from relegation fodder to the heady heights of eleventh. With only three points separating ninth from bottom, though, Bolton fans know that they're only a couple of poor performances away from being back in the mire, and so Saturday's match is key in continuing their recent good form and keeping them away from trouble.

Bolton Wanderers versus Liverpool
Reebok Stadium, 15th November, 12:45pm 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

Following the odd metaphorical black eye received at White Hart Lane in recent performances, Liverpool will be looking to bounce back from yet another defeat in the capital with the sort of performance that saw them run out comfortable 3-0 winners last time out against West Brom. But Bolton is always a tricky place to go, and the Reds have hardly had things all their own way against the Wanderers in their time in the Premier League against a side who revel in their underdog status, even in the years when consistently good performances saw them qualify for Europe, and who love nothing more than to bloody the nose of one of the 'big boys'.

The game at the Reebok always seems to throw up some sort of controversy or other, whether it's Gerrard's 'stamp', Momo's tackle, Garcia's 'offside' or a visually impaired linesman giving free-kicks against Pepe. Last year, however, farce replaced controversy, with Jussi Jaskalainen nodding one in for the Reds at the near post; and with Rob Styles pencilled in to referee the contest, I'm not sure whether my money's on controversy or farce to be honest.

The mood of folk over at The Wanderer has been understandably somewhat glum of late, but are things about to pick up for 'Ginger Mourinho' and his men?

As ever, many thanks go out to those that submitted their answers to Spyin' Kop's visit, and below is something of a taster of their replies.

How has your season started? Have things gone the way you expected?

Officer Dibble: They went the way I feared for a while, and I certainly wouldn't have predicted how tight the league table would be as well. Didn't see our last two results coming either 2 weeks ago.

enfieldwhite: Better than last year. I think we should be at least 3 points better off.

chris: Not well, but it could have been worse without the last two results. I expected to struggle.

Jimbo: Yep. Very few goals and very little to cheer about. Only surprise is that there are around ten teams who seem to be worse than us at the moment

Luna: Teetered between surprisingly promising (Man City, West Ham, Hull) and the outright depressing (Everton, Fulham).

mofgimmers: To be honest, any Bolton fans who assumes anything pre-season that doesn't involve blind-hope mixed with pain is a liar.

Of those players who've joined since last our two sides met, who's looked the most impressive?

Soldier of the White Army: Muamba is starting to look like he has been working on his weaknesses (passing and ball control) but Riga looks to be the man that can drive forward from midfield and give us a different dimension (even if he comes across as a little lightweight).

chris: I've admittedly only seen two games live, and noone has particularly stood out. Elmander hasn't replaced Anelka, whose recent form for Chelsea makes me feel sick. He was always going to go though. But I'll give them more time - Andy O'Brien eventually came through last season, and I can see something similar happening (hopefully). 

Mullayo:I'm a Muamba fan - he'll chase and close down all day. Most of our buys were done late last year so I'm not sure if you've seen them. Taylor, Steinsson have been good buys. Samuel has surprised us this year and struck up a great combination with Gardner

Anyone for the chop in January?

officer dibble: Shittu might go if we can sign someone better. No-one first team wise. Nicky Hunt will go and find football somewhere I imagine as well.

malcd1: Megson hopefully

Abdoulaye's Twin: The squad is too thin to be getting rid of anyone. Wouldn't mind if Megson went though!

Verbal: Tabloids keep talking about Shittu and Helguson leaving on loan. Our squad isn't the biggest atm, with 3 academy lads occupying the bench against Hull. I'd be surprised if more than one left if I am honest due to this, though I'd be equally surprised if we didn't bring anyone in.

Speaking of the chop, is Gary Megson the man to do the business at The Reebok?

Mullayo: I think he's made quality signings so far (Steinsson, Taylor, Cahill, Muamba, Elmander) and re-signed the right people (Jussi, Gardner, Davies, Al Habsi) and let some old legs go ( Pedersen, Stelios, Campo) bringing down the average age considerably.

boltonlad21: No. All he's going to do is 'just keep us up'. After going on some adventures in Europe this ambition isnt good enough. We want to at least challenge the top 10, and hopefully get into Europe again. Gary Megson isn't the man, he never was, and he never will be.

Verbal:I'm not one to usually hold grievances against managers, but some of the performances have been disillusioning to say the least. But, we are on a strong run at the minute; two wins against squillonaires City and high flying Hull have catipulted us to 11th, yet remarkably only 3 points off the bottom. He got us finishing outside the bottom three last year, and to be honest if he does that he'll do for me. Whether he can take our club to the "next level" so to speak, is another question entirely.

Raven: Joke question, yes? Definately not

Luna: Short term, I think sacking him at this point would be a mistake. Long term, I can't see us ever getting much better with him in charge.

We've had our problems with our American owners - are you happy with those in charge at The Reebok and their decision making? Their treatment of the fans and the issues of ticket prices, etc?

Verbal: To be honest, the club is doing its best to connect with Bolton fans - a club which doesn't usually sell out its away allocations is doing so this season, and alot of that is down to the free travel which the club are laying on. We also have a 'Fanzone' now, which (from what I've heard) sounds like basically a bar with a big screen and PA. For all his critics, Gartside cannot be accused of pricing Bolton fans out of football. The only problem is that for all this Gartside-spoiling of us, Megson has rather a lukewarm relationship with said fans. Hopefully the latter will improve with continued improvement of the fan/club relationship as well as results.

mofgimmers: To be honest, I'm fiercely proud of the fact that we're one of the few clubs to have a chairman that's English and been in and around the club for years. The powers that be have tried various methods to get the fans on board, which for my money, is a good thing. Better to try than arrogantly ignore. One thing's for certain, while we lack the funds of the foreign investors, I'd still rather be in the position we're in. As City have shown, a big cash injection doesn't always equate into success

William the White: We've reduced ticket prices. Laid on free coaches for away games. Appointed a fans liaison officer. Introduced a pre-match fanzone with cheap(ish) booze. Our owner, and chairman, are lifelong supporters. Only blips are the last two managerial appointments... errmmm

Abdoulaye's Twin: Overall yes. I think Gartside gets a bit of unfair stick. He's been an idiot with replacing Allardyce and opens his gob a bit too much in the press but apart from that he's run the club well. Ticket prices still need some addressing but I think that is in general across football and is part of a wider finance issue. I'd rather our set-up than some fly by night foreigner that might drop us in the shit in 3 years time.

Is the 'race for the drop' closer this year than any before?

boltonlad21: Hmm, we will see how things materialise. Looks like were going to need a record points tally to stop up. A lot of the teams in bottom half have a lot of quality in their teams... like Sunderland, Newcastle etc. Spurs and City were never really contenders for relegation so they'll shoot up the league soon. So really I don't think it'll be that tight for much longer. The good teams will rise up eventually. Its going to be a long season for us thats for sure.

Luna: It's certainly closer than the last two years, as from the offset, realistically there were only two relegation spots because of Watford and Derby. This year the only team I've seen who I think with any degree of confidence will go down is West Brom, and even that's far from sure. It's gonna be interesting if nothing else.

Soldier of the White Army: Very much so. Trouble off the pitch for many 'bigger' clubs has dragged them down into the third tier of the Premiership. Long may it continue!

Views on Liverpool - is this the year they make a real tilt at the title?

Mullayo: They've been very lucky so far but they've taken points of the big four and that's what wins titles, but an injury to a couple of key players or the fixture congestion will cause problems with your weaker overall squad.

Zulus Thousands of 'Em: No, next year. Always next year. You are bettered only by Spurs in that respect.

William the White: Yes. And fall off the horse. Chelsea will win. But you might win the European Cup, which, obviously, is easier.

mofgimmers: Nope. Liverpool don't have the same sway in the transfer market as Man Utd and Chelsea, despite the fact that this is the best Liverpool team I've seen in a while. I don't know what it is, but Liverpool seem to lack the ruthlessness of 'the other two'.

enfieldwhite: No. You'll fall away when your cup commitments and the Christmas season gets too much. Plus you'll be 3 points adrift of Chelsea by the end of the weekend! ;)

This season saw us playing Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, the season after they'd played you in the UEFA Cup. While their stock has risen, yours has fallen - will you see Bolton in such heady heights again? If so, what is required?

Abdoulaye's Twin: Not for many years if ever. We've taken a massive step backwards since Allardyce left. In order to become anything other than a perrenial struggler we need a strong manager to come in with new ideas and the ability to adapt. We can't compete financially and our big chance was really last season. If we'd maintained top half Premiership and not given up on the UEFA then our profile would have been much raised, which with the additional cash Megson has had we could have probably moved on in terms of the standard of player we signed. Beating At Madrid, drawing at Bayern and going on to beat Sporting (which we should had we tried), the path top the final was there and we'd have finally arrived as a team people knew about on the continent. At least I reckon it would have helped. In short, we have missed the boat and I fear we wont return for many a year.

Jimbo: Atletico's stock hasn't risen and it was only 7 months ago Bolton did what Liverpool couldn't, and beat them. They have no real different players since we beat them. Bolton are no different to the side that beat them them either – arguably better with the acquisition of Muamba as a midfielder who can move.

chris: No. Unfortunately money will be needed to do that, and we can't keep up. Unless we get a billionairre taking us over (which I don't want), we'll struggle. There's so many teams outside the big four with money now that even if one has a poor season, the others will still be pushing for those UEFA places. Our best chance of qualification is through a cup now - which I really hope we'll make an effort for now. I used to want us to just to maintain Premiership status, but to start each season with the aim of staying up isn't much of a future - I'd happily take a risk and push for a cup.

malcd1: Not in my lifetime. A good manager would be a good start. We have a better squad than last year and give Megson his dues he has bought pretty well. I just don't think he is capable of getting the best out of them.

What are your hopes/expectations for Saturday's match?

malcd1: We have been pretty negative this season. I will take an ultra negative performance and 0-0. What will not be acceptable is if we are really defensive and we still get hammered. I fear that if it is a draw going into the last couple of minutes one of your players will probably throw himself to the floor and be awarded a penalty for nothing.

Soldier of the White Army: Cahill and O'Brien to have a busy day, We'll score from a set piece, but you'll get one back near the end of the match after Gerrard gets viciously chopped down from a extra long blade of grass in the box.

Zulus Thousands of 'em: I hope we stuff you. I expect we'll be lucky to get a point this time around.

officer dibble: Realistically we'll battle but I can't see us coping with the pace of your attack. If I was offered a point I'd be grateful.

mofgimmers: As ever, it could go either way. Spurs robbed you of points, which we could well do. Then again, we could get battered by 4. Like I've implied throughout, it's best not to make wild predictions when supporting Bolton Wanderers.

Wise words on which to finish, I'd say. Thanks again to all those over at The Wanderer; they're thoroughly welcoming chaps and love to have Liverpool fans drop over from time to time. Honest.

All the best for the rest of the season, lads; after Saturday, of course.

:wave blurred

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