The end of an era. The beginning of another one. Tomorrow sees that final game under the temporary tenure of former Middlesbrough player Jimmy Phillips, in which Bolton have picked up four good points and risen a whole two places, but also in which a sense of optimism has returned to the club. Dougie Freedman has been appointed manager and people are generally happy about the playing side at least for the first time in nearly two years.
So, what better place to go at the end and beginning than the arse end of everywhere. Middlesbrough. I have nothing against the people or, indeed, the town. But the ground, nestled somewhere in the middle of a nameless industrial estate, doesn’t exude glamour. The Reebok, although surrounded by a retail park, does have rolling hills in the distance. The Riverside has a tar distillation plant, nestled on the other side of the Tees.
‘Putting Kevin back there at centre-back, I was confident he`d do a good job, because the experience he`s got as a player. I knew he wouldn`t let us down. You have to be willing to try little things. Sometimes they work, sometimes you have to change again. But it`s important to be flexible.‘ Jimmy P tells us all what we all thought OC should have been doing. And the proof is in the pudding. If your pudding is made of four points.
Middlesbrough Team News:
Leading league scorer Lucas Jutkiewicz is out with a knee problem. Other than that, I’ve got nothing.
Player to watch: Marvin Emnes
Joint leading goal scorer with Lucas Jutkiewicz, Emnes has scored in two of Boro’s last three games. He’s the sort of player whose name always appears on the Football League Show and you think ‘oh yes, Marvin Emnes’, despite him not having a particularly good scoring record in this country. He was part of the Middlesbrough team that went down in 2009 without he himself scoring a goal, despite his £3.2million price tag.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
Matt Mills is struggling so may be replaced by Sam Ricketts or Zat Knight. Adam Bogdan looked to have a problem on Tuesday (other than conceding badly) but with Andy Lonergan injured, his position is pretty much assured for the time being,
Player to watch: Kevin Davies
It’s either been Eagles or SKD this season as the player to watch, for varying reasons. The beauty of watching the captain whilst playing under Jimmy Phillips is that you never know which position he will pop up in next. One moment he is a striker, then a winger and then, finally, a central defender. And people continue to call him one dimensional.
Match Facts & Stats
The two teams have met each other 108 times in the league since Bolton won 3-0 at Burnden Park in 1899 and we hold a 49-32 lead overall. At home, Middlesbrough lead 26-16. The last time Bolton won there was the last time we played there, Grétar Steinsson, Matt Taylor and Johan Elmander scoring in a 3-1 Premier League win in 2008.
Bolton’s leading scorer in the fixture is Joe Smith with fourteen, scored between 1911 and 1922. In the second tier it is SuperJohn McGinlay with four, including a hat trick in 1994. However, of the 108 league games played, only 24 have been outside the top flight.
Gary Sutton. Well, it’s a Saturday, so we’re back to Championship referees again. No doubt we’ll have another dodgy penalty awarded against us. So far this season he has taken charge of two Championship games, giving out three yellows. In total he has given twenty seven yellows and one red.
He has never taken charge of a Bolton game. His last Boro game was their 3-1 defeat to Coventry in January, when he sent off two Boro players.
As long as we keep on not losing, I’m happy to keep on getting it wrong. So, 2-1 to T’Wanderers again, eh?
Cardiff, on telly and after all day drinking, next Saturday. Maybe Mr Plod will turn up for this one.