Writer: Richard McCormick
Date:Wednesday December 31 2008
The year ended as it had begun. A dismal game at the Reebok and a 1-0 scoreline. In January, Derby County had cause to be aggrieved as Stelios`s injury time winner denied them a deserved point. At the back end of December, Bolton had no right to complain about going down to Wigan. The performance warranted and got nothing.
In between there were highs and lows. More of the latter it seemed. The darkest point was at Aston Villa as the Whites crumbled to a 4-0 defeat, a week after they`d lost to ten-man Arsenal after leading by two goals. That reverse left them four points from safety and in a seemingly hopeless position. A fortnight later and tails were up again, after a win at Middlesbrough lifted Bolton out of the relegation places. Those who went alternated between watching the never-moving clock on the roof of the home end and gnawing their fingernails to the elbow. Wasn`t football supposed to be fun?
Safety was virtually assured on the penultimate day of the season thanks to El Hadji Diouf and a Sunderland side who ignored Roy Keane`s plea to put in a decent shift. By this stage however, the trust between Bolton boss Gary Megson and a large section of the fans had been irretrievably broken.
On 13th March, the Wanderers travelled to Sporting Lisbon, still in with a chance of progressing to the last eight of the UEFA cup. Megson fielded a side consisting of reserves, academy players and anyone who happened to be passing when the team sheet was to hand. His side went down 1-0. If Bolton had performed adequately at Wigan in the following game, he might have been forgiven. They didn`t and he wasn`t.
The other decision that grated was the sale of Nicolas Anelka to Chelsea. The Frenchman wasn`t blamed for his desire to play at the highest level, but the failure to secure someone capable in front of goal almost proved lethal, as far as Bolton`s Premier League survival was concerned. Grzegorz Rasiak was never intended as a direct replacement, but comparisons between Anelka and the Polish plumber, whose hundred metre sprints are timed with a calendar, drew either hysterical laughter or copious vomiting, depending on your temperament. At least all the taps in the dressing room are working now.
The new season got under way, after the usual failures in the transfer market. After an opening day victory over Stoke, thanks to an accidental goal and some friendly defending, a familiar pattern emerged with both results and performances being far short of the required standard. Then November happened. Four wins in five and Bolton started to look like a team instead of a collection of individuals. Gary Megson, Premier League Manager of the Month. Never was a more unlikely sentence written.
Not that it lasted. At the time of writing, Bolton have lost four of the last five and the mojo has gone awol again. At least there`s only Arsenal and Manchester United to come. Never mind. It`s New Years Eve. Have a drink.
Bolton`s record over 2008 in league games is Won 12 Drawn 7 Lost 19 For 36 Against 50, which over a season would leave them just about surviving relegation. On a school report it would draw a mark of C minus. After spending £27 million on incoming transfers, better is required.
In these difficult times may we wish our readers a hopeful New Year. Reading figures show that you keep returning to the site. It is very much appreciated. Thanks also, to those who took the trouble of sending e-mails to express your appreciation. Such efforts make maintaining this place worthwhile. To those who whinged about the tone of the site, including Bolton Chairman Phil Gartside, an outraged woman from Nigeria who took offence at remarks about Danny Shittu, and a Macedonian goatherd who claimed that we`d insulted his mother, we suggest you get a life - and a sense of humour.
All the best for 2009 to Wanderers Fans everywhere.
Date:Wednesday December 31 2008
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