Date: 13th March 2012 at 4:48pm
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I may not agree with your opinion, but I would defend with my life your right to voice it..

Afternoon all. Bit behind the plate at the moment (I’m not sure if ‘behind the plate’ is an actual saying, but if it isn’t it damn well should be). Mrs X reaches a landmark birthday tomorrow and, whilst I’m trying to sort out ‘Happy 21st Birthday’ banners, I’m a bit off the pace with my writing.

So we’ll start with the Phil Gartside interview on BBC Manchester on Saturday. We all know the details of the debt the club is in, the majority to Sir Eddie of Strix which means that we may be in debt or we may not be in debt, depending on your mood and the time of day. I’m no financial whizz kid (I leave that to Mrs X) but if Eddie is happy to plough money in with no hope of getting it back, then carry on. The problem, as far as I can see, is if he wants to sell and then whoever comes in would have to take the debt on.

Naturally, people are concerned what will happen if we get relegated. Will players on big contracts be sold? Will those whose contracts have run out be resigned? Will our better players, including the missing Stuart Holden and LCY, ever put on a blue, white, red and orange shirt again?

Big Phil answered those questions during the interview. Apparently, contingency plans have been put in place, the club own a lot of assets (which may come in handy if we ever look like going the way of Portsmouth and Rangers) and there is nothing unusual in ten players being out of contract at the end of the season, just that the ten players this season are all in the first team squad and pushing past thirty. I think Chelsea have the same problem, if on a grander scale.

We all know the players, which includes the likes of SKD, Paul Robinson, Sean Davis and Robbie Blake, the latter three of who will definitely not be getting new terms, despite Big Phil saying that ‘Some, none or all of them may stay.‘ I think if Robbie Blake is offered a new contract, someone will be ordering men in white coats to visit the stadium.

However, what has caught the interest is, in a repeat of a mistake a certain former manager made, calling some fans ‘numpties’. Apparently he is referring to people on phone ins, and not the likes of this site.

I like to think that this site, and our brethren in what I like to call ‘The Bolton Ring’, give support when we can but if we think that something is going wrong we aren’t afraid to say it. The good thing (or bad thing, depending upon your point of view) about Bolton Wanderers is that we aren’t saturated with websites, all giving a variation on differing opinions and spending most of the time having a go at each other as much as the club. (Arsenal spring to mind). I know that various people have had various run ins with people at the club, or people married to people at the club, but in the most part there is a broad agreement that Owen Coyle is the manager and if he was to be replaced there wouldn’t be an awful lot of viable candidates lining up. There is also the awareness that Bolton Wanderers have been batting above our average for a very long time, and long may it continue. This is in not short measure to both the owner and, to my mind, the chairman. He may do some things that are strange but there are stranger chairman.

However, calling supporters ‘numpties’ is one of those strange things. It doesn’t matter what club you support, you are going to get someone who doesn’t agree with how they are doing. When Citeh dropped off top spot on Sunday there were a couple of callers asking for Mancini to go. There have been consistent calls for Wenger to be given the old ‘tin tack’ this season and there have been times in the past where even Fergie hasn’t been immune to the call of the phone in fan demanding he go.

My own personal view is that anyone who can find themselves out argued by the likes of Alan Green and Stan Collymore need to have a look at themselves. But, if you are a fan of a club and you want to vent your spleen at Messrs Green, Collymore, Savage and Roberts, especially if you are in the bottom three, then that is your right. What you say may not be coherent, but you pay your money and you are allowed to say it. I’ve found myself in a pub on a Saturday night launching into a diatribe about the relative merits of Darren Pratley and Zat Knight to people who would have difficulty pinpointing Bolton on a map. That doesn’t make me a numpty as much as speaking publicly on the radio doesn’t make you numpty. It makes you a fan concerned about your club. I wouldn’t do it, but if that’s your bag then knock yourself out.

In a sense, calling fans who phone in to shows like 6-0-6 numpties is akin to calling the 12,000 who booed the team off after the Wigan game numpties. It wouldn’t have taken such a swing in fortunes for that to have been replicated on Saturday. To call fans numpties only serves to make those of us who have the ability to string two sentences together without the words ‘You’ and ‘Know’ coming out believe that it is, in fact, the chairman who is the numpty. Not John from Blackrod.

(Hi John!!)

The Big G also commented on the easy run in that we have to the end of the season. And David Wheater, who preformed well on Saturday, has also warmed to this subject. And it is good to see a player other than ZK or DP talking to the press.

We`ve looked at the fixtures and I think we have got the easiest run-in. They`re not easy games, of course, but compared to everyone else they look okay. Wigan and QPR have got to play the top five but it`s down to us at the end of it. If we pick up the points and play confidently, then we will be fine.

There does seem to be a lot of people talking about this run in as if it is a done deal that we are going to get out of it just by looking at the fixture list. I’m quite happy to stick my neck out and say I’m looking to get maximum points from both Blackburn and Wolves, but then I look at Clint Hill’s goal and the Wigan game and I start to shudder. Blackburn have winnable games, as do Wigan and Wolves. Whilst on paper we may look like we have the easiest run in, this team have proved time and again this season that, just as we think we have the right formula, we find ourselves right back in it. If there is one think we have been consistent at this season, it is our glorious inconsistency.

If we are to succeed, we need to plug the gap in midfield that a quite ordinary QPR side exploited on Saturday. And that gap is the one currently being filled by Darren Pratley. I know that I could probably record this and play it every day, but I still don’t get why Pratley is playing ahead of Muamba and the fear is that Pratley’s goal on Saturday will make the manager feel vindicated by his continual selection. Pratley himself has said that he is looking to score more goals this season. I’d be happy with a 20% pass completion rate.

Various ideas have been put forward as to why Muamba is not in the manager’s thought, some involving sexual favours being given by goats, some not. What is certain is that whatever the reason is, Fab and Owen should take it outside, sort it out and then put the best defensive midfielder back in the team.

The official site calls Pratley a box to box midfielder. I can only imagine they mean the six and eighteen yard box as I’ve never seen him run from our box to the opposition box. Ever.

Right. That’s it from me for today and for the rest of the week. Mrs X’s landmark birthday will be taking me away from my computer for a few days, so Big Al will be taking you through the Quarter Final, which I will be watching if I can find a pub that isn’t just showing England v Ireland on St Patrick’s Day. Which will take some doing, I wouldn’t be surprised. So, have yourselves a few good ones and I will see you next week.


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