I`m not a culinary expert in any shape or form, but I do love good food. After falling out with Jamie Oliver, I watched a programme involving Gordon Ramsay`s Italian experiences. He showed the country how to prepare and cook, what looked like, a delicious but simple pasta dish. With very few ingredients, but focusing on quality produce, I gave it a go.
Mr Ramsay, without using expletives, spoke me through the dish from start to finish. The finest Italian tomatoes, fresh egg pasta, fresh basil, even down to placing the pasta onto the sauce and not vice versa, were executed with care and attention.
I sat down to eat the picture-perfect dish with slather rolling down my chin. I took the fork, twisted it in the linguini- I even closed my eyes- then took in a mouthful… bland… bland, bland, and bland.
What had I done wrong? I went back to the video; pasta… tick, tomatoes… tick, basil… tick. What was going on? How could I get it so wrong? Then I realised, the only thing I`d missed from the recipe… salt. I hadn`t put salt in or on the dish. Why would that matter so much? The finest quality pasta, the finest tomatoes, fresh herbs; they were all redundant without the simple addition of sodium chloride.
No matter what I`d have done to my pasta dish, without the salt, it was a let down. Ramsay himself, with his decades of culinary expertise, couldn`t have made my meal anymore appealing to the pallet, without that simple additive.
Then I started thinking about Bolton Wanderers.
Your comments, yet again over the recent articles, have been brilliant. I read Aussie Mike`s metaphorically charged comments and agree with what he says. Then I read Rob`s statistical analyses and agree with him. Then the rest of you chip in with contradictions to the respective views and I start swerving my opinions even further. After reading all your comments- changing my opinion as I read on- I end up not knowing what I believe, or what I believed in the first place, before I started reading!
Obviously, the skill and passion you all show when delivering your views weighs heavily in warping my opinions. But I also suspect, it`s because you all have valid points. Especially when it comes down to: whether or not Dougie Freedman deserves to remain as our manager.
But as my culinary car-crash delivered my sodium chloride epiphany, I also seemed to shed light on the failings of our football team.
Aussie Mike`s finances, Rob`s statistics and whether Dougie should be our manager, all to one side, what is our football team missing on the field? Imagine the Bolton starting-11 is my pasta dish- and keep in mind we aren`t a Man City or Chelsea squad, in reference to quality of ingredients. The defence is the pasta, the midfield is the tomatoes and the attackers are our basil, why is this team`s taste so bland? What are we missing? What are we missing that with bring all the ingredients together? What is our 'salt`?
After my kitchen faux pas, to me, it suddenly all made sense. What would take pressure off our defenders, which we haven`t got at the moment? What would give our defensive midfielders an outlet, which we haven`t got at the moment? What would give our wingers the impetus to get excited, which we haven`t got at the moment? And what would make our strikers lick their lips every Saturday at 3pm, which we haven`t got at the moment? A player-position that would bring all those ingredients together, enhance the flavour and make mealtimes exciting again?
The creative midfielder, of course.
The Holden/Mavies role- or lack of- I believe is having a disastrous effect on our team`s performances, results and morale. Not only morale of the team, but the morale of the fan-base, also. We have no-one in the team, who is healthy, who can get bums on and- when they`re at the ground- off their seats. The creative outlet which is currently vacant, would not only add bite to our attacks but also take pressure off the defenders and give our defence-minded midfielders a simple pass to make their job easier. There would be a buzz or roar whenever he got the ball and the team would respond to it. The Reebok may then start resembling a football stadium rather than a graveyard and the circle, which is now a vicious one, may then start turning in our favour.
I`m not saying a creative spark in the middle of the field is the answer to all our problems, but after realising the enormous influence simple seasoning made to my entire meal, it made me think: maybe we aren`t too many ingredients away from having a tasty-winning formula.
Without a definitive reason from your comments as to why we are failing so badly, maybe a sprinkling of Mavies this winter will make things a whole lot clearer. If the creative ingredient doesn`t enhance the flavour of our performances after that, then I`m lost for answers for the time being.
Unfortunately, maybe only tipping the dish in the bin and starting again is the only way forward.