Date: 11th September 2012 at 4:15pm
Written by:

Go ahead. Make my day.

People confuse the right to have an opinion with the right to have that opinion respected. The latter doesn`t exist. The former does. Ricky Gervais on Twitter today.

Opinions are like assholes. Everybody`s got one. Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry in The Dead Pool (1988)

Late last night, as Andy Murray rose, then fell, then rose again, during one of the ad breaks I was having a look at the Vital Bolton Twitter feed. I don`t go on it often, but was having a look to see if anyone new was following or if someone had sent a message. Scrolling down, I saw that Emma Davies, wife of Kevin Davies for the one of you that doesn`t know, had called what is on this site “claptrap”. I sent her a message, thanking her for reading and this morning woke to find that she had replied, offering the critique that what is on this site is poisonous, clueless bile.

Now, it is a well known fact that neither Emma nor myself will lose any sleep over not sharing a coffee at Middlebrook Starbucks. She has nearly 6,000 Twitter followers and I have enough friends. And this article is not going to launch into an anti Emma Davies rant, irrespective of the fact that I do not understand how she can say that this site is claptrap, poisonous, clueless and full of bile whilst, in the same tweet, say that she has never read it, especially as she used the word “claptrap” about four hours after we did yesterday. But that may just be coincidence.

What it got me thinking was, is the negative thinking of sites like this, including the rant yesterday, having a detrimental effect on the team? Do forums continually calling for the manager`s replacement filter through to the players? Do tweets, sent in the immediate aftermath of a defeat, shake the confidence of a group already low on confidence?

I do not believe for one second that any of the players read any of the sites. Those on twitter may reply or retweet the odd tweet, but I do not think that they have the inclination to read any websites, whether what is on them is good or bad.

However, this does not mean that the club doesn`t read them. Mrs Davies` assertion that this site is full of unpleasantness would suggest that, regardless of whether she reads it or not, someone has made her aware of it. The former editor of this site, Richard McCormick, was once called into the oak pannelled office of Phil Gartside and called “an opinion former”. Whilst Owen Coyle said at the Fans Forum that he never read sites, it is a good barometer for staff at the club to get an all round idea about what fans are thinking. This site encourages people to comment on our articles, and we are happy that many do. They give the whole gamut of emotions, from aussiemike upwards. I find, reading back on them, that they are generally well written (the benefits of a classical education) and make salient points.

However, the vast majority of the articles are started with the end point already established and, as the months have gone on, it is true that they have gone from ecstasy, to hope, to despair, to, finally, anger. A bit like bereavement, but with the dead person still actually living. And this reflects the viewpoint of the majority of fans. Whilst it is still a small minority who boo, and this writer has never and will never do that, the number is growing. It would be remiss of us to not reflect this in our articles. And we can`t all be airy fairy, head in the clouds types. At my age, I`ve seen a lot and done a lot and one of those things was stand on the weed infested terraces of Burnden Park in Division Four. I don`t want to go back there. We recognise that there is a problem. To suggest otherwise would suggest that you don`t have the club`s best interests at heart.

This season, amongst those who know, didn`t begin with the expectation that we would run away with the league. However, it did start with the expectation that we would hit the ground running. The pre season showed a team that still had a problem and this has carried on into the games that matter. If it had been suggested at the beginning of the season that twentieth place was where we would end up, the level of expectation would have been very low. However, the club has set its stall out and has said time and again that only promotion will do. Therefore, expectation is high and our current position and style of play result in the current opinions being given. No one would be happier than me if we are to climb the table in the next three games, but nothing has been done so far to suggest that is the case. Therefore, the opinion that you give is one couched in disappointment.

Which brings me to yesterday`s article. Those that read between the lines, or even just read the thing properly, would have discovered that this wasn`t having a go at Kevin Davies but having a go at the club in general as he had to say what he had to say. But fans are tired of the same words having little to no effect on the playing style and are voicing that opinion. This author is a fan first and a blogger second and writing the amount that I do about Bolton Wanderers, you can easily see the same tired lines running through the same tired articles.

The disappointment of yesterday was that our captain and longest serving player was coming out with these heard it all before platitudes. Whilst we are aware that he has to show solidarity with the management, you would have expected there to be something a little more honest about his interview. Surely, the club can give the talisman of the team his own head? Instead, we are now running into repeats of interviews given by players during the Megson era. And we all know how that turned out and what players said once he had gone.

So, do opinions on this and other sites really affect what is going on within the club? Not a bit of it. If that was the case then Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger would have been long gone from their clubs the amount of times that websites have called for their heads. The new media gives people like me and you and Emma Davies the ability to voice their opinion, some more sensible than others. Talking heads on television and radio, phone ins, facebook, twitter. It is never ending. And if you don`t like it, you can just turn off or close down. I tend to do that with the people who ring Stan Collymore

But, whatever you do. If you have an opinion, know what you`re talking about before giving the opinion. Third hand information may have passed through the wrong hands. And suggesting you know what you are talking about when, in fact you don`t, is a skill only very few can pull off. And they`re all in politics.

Just another thought before we go. Yesterday, Jay Spearing joined the ranks of players saying that the team need to cut out the silly mistakes. I now make this the whole first team that have said that over the past eighteen months. Here`s an idea. How about we cut out the interviews about cutting out the silly mistakes?

We`ll be back with something akin to normal, for this site at least, tomorrow. Don`t have nightmares.


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