Date: 7th May 2012 at 8:43am
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Here is a cut out and keep list (please note that this list can and will be added to)

WD18 0ER
DE24 8XL
BB10 4BX
LS11 0ES
SE16 3LN
SE25 6PU
S71 1ET
S6 1SW

There is a very real possibility that you will need that list next season, for it is a list of postcodes for all the clubs that are definitely playing in The Championship. Add onto that the postcode BL6 6JW, as Bolton Wanderers stare into a very deep hole of their own making.

With ten minutes to go of yesterday’s game it could have been so different. Leading 2-1 against a West Brom team with nothing to play for except sending their manager on his way and with Stoke holding QPR, we were two points out of the relegation zone and, with QPR at Citeh next weekend, virtually assured of survival. Cut to ten minutes later, The Baggies had equalised, QPR had scored and we were two points adrift with one game to play.

We all knew before the game that in all probability we would have to go to Stoke and get a result, so nothing has changed there. It is just the scale of the result. In the four years since a bookie paid out on Stoke going straight back down after we had beaten them in their first game in the Premier League we have beaten them just once at The Britannia, and that was a smash and grab effort in 2010 when Matt Taylor scored twice in the last five minutes. Apparently, Stoke’s performance at QPR yesterday disproved the notion that their season is over and you can be damn sure that, after their 5-0 ‘revenge’ loss at T’Reebok in November they will be looking for their own satisfactory end to the season. The only teams to have lost fewer games at home this season at home are the top five.

However, our form away from home is better than it has been at home (nobody in the bottom half has won more) and if we are to get a result next weekend that that is what we are going to do to stay up. The mathematics are simple. Win stay up. Anthing else, start packing for Barnsley.

Yesterday’s game, to be fair, could have been 6-6 the amount of chances created, from SKD’s blazing over from a Petrov cross early on before Bogdan saved from McCauley before Dorrans hit wide and Shane Long tickled the upright.

However, it took Martin Petrov’s penalty to settle some nerves, Keith Andrews and Youssouf Mulumbu tag teaming Mark Davies, who this time definitely didn’t dive. The Bulgarian’s penalty, low and hard to Foster’s right, was well taken.

Not that it settled many nerves with Ream and Wheater and then Ream and Knight having difficulties all day. The midfield gave the ball away too often and David N’Gog kept up his reputation as the striker who doesn’t strike. Still, when Petrov marauded down the left and crossed for Ridgewell to cannon a ball off Billy Jones’s chest and into the net, wrongfooting Foster, survival was surely in Bolton’s hands.

By this time OC had taken N’Gog off and replaced him with Klasnic, a strange move seeing as how we didn’t actually have to score and Klasnic, whilst a striker who does strike, has appeared to be on strike recently. N’Gog is a willing runner, Klasnic is not. If trying to hold onto a lead then it would be N’Gog who was needed, a player who is willing to run. When the ball fell to Chris Brunt just three minutes after the second goal and he made no mistake, eyes must have turned to N’Gog sitting on the bench and wondered who would now run into the corners after the ball.

Cue even more nervous defending. LCY, given a standing ovation even before he had sat on the bench, was given another one when he replaced the outstanding Petrov in another curious substitution. Whilst it is good to see LCY back, surely Miyaichi would have been the better sub for Petrov or even LCY for Eagles? To ask a player who has been out for nine months to come onto the pitch when you are holding on? I don’t get it and is another in a litany of strange substitutions that OC has made this season.

Still Bolton held on but, after the ball had been given away in midfield, West Brom attacked down the right where SKD was the covering defender (that’s right, that’s how far we were back), the ball moved around the area until Cox floated the ball across the area for James Morrison, unmarked, to smack the ball into the roof of the net. From jubilation to misery in one fifteen minute period.

People filed out at the end of the game, not waiting for the ‘lap of appreciation’ that didn’t come in a move that goes against what a ‘family club’ are supposed to be about. In his pre match interview, OC talked about the crowd being ‘magnificent’ and ‘educated’. For those waiting for the players to return to the pitch, that hardly seemed to be the case. The manager himself, normally so happy to applaud, had already turned tail and headed down the tunnel before the handshakes had been completed. A strangely Megsonesque move.

So, we head to The Potteries for a do or die. That will be the biggest game of the season, no doubt. It may also be our last in the Premier League. But that is for another time. There is still the possibility that we will stay up and whilst that is there, there is still hope. But the flame is flickering. Come next Sunday, it may be expunged.


8 Replies to “Bolton Wanderers: Postcode Lottery”

  • Tactics, substitutions, team selections and strategies throughout the season have all ultimately come from Coyle and have all contributed to gaining or (more often) losing points. But these are not the reasons for us being relegated (if we are, of course). The reason for our relegation is three-fold: 1) Our Talisman/men (Holden, CYL) were lost for the season 2) Our proven or ageing stars of the past are passed it (Jussi, SKD, Knight, Robinson…) 3) The players brought in to replace or boost the team do not have the quality (Pratley, N’Gog, Eagles, Mears…). Some will argue this is nothing, or very little, to do with the manager and some will argue this is everything to do with the manager… I began the campaign feeling sorry for Coyle blaming him for nothing other than having his hands tied, limited resources etc. But his endless rhetoric of sucking up to other managers, sponsors and bigging himself up being ‘in profit’ has slowly ground me down. Now I don’t know whether I want Coyle or I want to want Coyle. All I do know is when I look at his face it morphs into Tony Blair… We’ve been hoodwinked into a relegation war we have no business being in.

  • While true to claim events conspired against us yesterday, over the last 18 months the team and its performances have been woefull. Coyle has been a complete disaster, managers should be judged on results, Coyles have been the worst in over 30 years, how Gartside and Davies could place loyalty to Coyle above the club’s interests and its survival I will never know. He has snake charmed the supporters with his breathtaking patronising excuses, they say you can fool most of the people most of the time, all the while the train continued along the track heading towards the buffers at the end of the line, well here we are and the buffers have now appeared. If the expected crash occurs at Stoke next week and Coyle fails in his bid to outshine Harry Houdinin we will see the club plunge into a financial and football abyss. Never once all season have I heard Coyle speak the truth following any of the many defeats and the dross that preceded it out on the pitch. I fully agree with bwfc 75 and your article, Coyle’s tactical abilities have shown themselves to be useless, in fact damaging. How we have missed having Elmander in our forward line all season. After paying £8 million for the lad and watching him become our leading goalscorer, how bad a manager or chairman are you when you refuse to pay him increased wages and show him the door, instead spending a further £10 million on transfer fees alone on several players who collectively are not good enough for the premiership and have brought us to our relegation demise

  • Is a Blackburn win the best option for us tonight? Could Wigan possiibly lose to Wolves? Can QPR take a point? I don’t know anymore…………

  • In terms of transfers, I couldn’t care less about Elmander leaving, other than the fact that it was £8m down the drain. He was awful, really, and thought he was bigger than the club. What really annoys me is that Swansea – who were nearly snuffed out of existence relatively recently – managed to sign Sigurdsson on loan. Why do they get him and we get their Pratley?

  • The tactical ineptness of Owen Coyle has been there to see all season, but let us take yesterday as an example to see just how amateurish he is in his way of doing things.
    1. With the score up at 1 – 0 for Bolton, why take of Ngog for Klasnic? While Kevin Davies is 35 years old and obviously the less likely to last 90 minutes. And if ever Ngog was to come off, why replace him by a striker?
    2. And as the score goes up to 2 – 0, why not immediatley switch to 4-5-1 or a 5-4-1 formation in order to reinforce an already awful defence.
    3. Then at 2-1 down, bring on Lee Chung Yong for a cameo appearance…What is the point? while having a fitter player on the flanks was surely a priority in these times. The equaliser ended up coming from this side of the pitch.

    Coyle has really taken us for a ride this year and we have always thought that things would come good and that we were too good to go down, but in the end it has caught up with us.

  • So there wasn’t a lap of hounour then?, Good job I left as soon as the final whilstle went then. NOrmally I wait on the last home game of the season but I was too disgusted to do so this time.

  • Totally agree with main article and comments (except Elmander) Coyle has proven all season (and the end of last – 5 straight defeats) that he is tactically clueless both in team selections and substitutions during a game. His transfer dealings are also a disgrace, players leaving for nothing or significantly less that they should, replaced by inept under-performing championship(at best) players. His record is a disgrace, he has a back room staff of nobodies without any premiership calibre. Is this his masterplan for success?
    We are now 1 game away from being in the football wilderness for many years to come, thanks to St Owen.

  • There is no doubt that Sunday’s game is crucial, but having followed Bolton for over 40 years, getting relegated may be the cathartic episode we need. We have 10 players (Petrov, Klasnic, Blake, Jussi, Knight, S Davies, SKD, Gardner, Robinson and Ricketts) playing for their contracts, average age 33 years, plus three loan deals expiring and on the premise that we will most likely be playing in the Championship, probably only one of them ,Ricketts (a youthful 30), who can justify a new contract. There is no doubt we will need to cut our cloth for next season whichever way next Sunday goes; but I have no doubt that we will need to rely on many of the younger players next season and I suspect that Coyle’s hands will be firmly tied behind is back when it comes to new signings (expect loan deals from the usual suspects, Arsenal, Chelsea and maybe Spurs). To be honest the way that the Cahill money burned a hole in his pocket with Sordell has not helped in any way and I do wonder why Sordell hasn’t been given a chance at all? It’s clear that Coyle is not pragmatic enough to play the required formation to survive in the Premiership and I do wonder what formation he will pick for Sunday; Coyle’s desire to play the 4-4-2 passing, attacking, attractive football will probably be more effective in the Championship

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