This crucial away win against relegation rivals Blackburn could prove to shape Bolton's future. Now the players need to develop some consistency - and not in the dire manner that Martin Petrov is consistent.
‘Tis truly the season to be jolly. I’ve had a lot more pleasure from watching Christmas movies with my 5-year old daughter than watching football over recent weeks. Seeing McCauley Culkin burn Joe Pesci’s scalp or a digitally rendered Tom Hanks serve up hot chocolate on the Polar Express has proved much more enjoyable than watching the entire Bolton squad put on a 90 minute panto on a weekly basis over the past month or two. Never mind that just about every member of the team has resembled the back end of a donkey for much of this season – last night was a gift of such magnitude it surpasses anything Noel Edmonds dishes out at this time of year. And there is precisely where my festive cheer ends and a healthy dose of realism kicks in.
The result last night was joyous. Yes, it was bum-squeakingly nervy during the latter stages but the 3 points were absolutely essential, not just in potentially shaping the rest of the season but possibly the next few years. The game really was that important. What now takes on even greater significance than the result last night is the need to take a minimum of 4 (but ideally 6) points from the next 2 home games against Wolves and Newcastle. The 5-0 drubbing of Stoke was heralded as a turning point and was subsequently followed by a 5-match losing run. The same cannot be allowed to happen again, especially with an horrific January fixture list looming - Everton, Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal is not expected to yield a significant return. A couple more wins prior to those fixtures and the avoidance of any complete hammerings in January could set the team up for a relatively fruitful final third of the season. Another demoralising run and the team will be relegated. And, should that happen, the team will implode completely (hence the above quote relating to shaping the next few years), of that I have no doubt.
The vast majority of the current Bolton squad should take a long, hard look at themselves and be thoroughly ashamed.
And let’s temper all this with another dose of realism – the vast majority of the current squad should take a long, hard look at themselves and be thoroughly ashamed. The performances have been absolutely woeful thus far this season and only a sustained run of positive results will begin to make the fan base think otherwise. The chief culprit for me is Martin Petrov, who can now be considered an atrocity of a signing. His one attribute is consistency but that is of scant consolation when he is consistently awful. The finger should also be pointed at those players who do lack consistency – Chris Eagles, Mark Davies, Kevin Davies, Gary Cahill, Paul Robinson, Zat Knight. The list is endless and I could quote the entire first team squad here. One or two players in such form could, potentially, be compensated by the rest. When the entire team demonstrates it on a regular basis, the bottom 3 beckons.
But enough doom and gloom. Perhaps the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future will visit the Euxton training ground before Sunday and give them all the kick up the backside they sorely need. Then who knows – there may actually be a route out of this dirge of a situation after all. Merry Christmas Owen – I’ve always said you remain the man for the job. Just rub some of your pride, passion and grit off onto those severely underperforming players of yours and ensure you’re still a top-flight manager come next Christmas. Remember – 3 points are for life, not just for Christmas.
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