Tom Jenkins tries to be optimistic about Bolton’s survival chances…
In the week since our win at Rotherham I have read at least two articles discussing the chances of our unlikely, yet possible, escape from relegation this season. It is now my turn to weigh in. As I`m sure most readers will be aware if you have read any of my articles before, I try my best to be optimistic about our club. This isn`t because I have blind faith, it isn`t because I think we are too good to be down where we are, it is because I know what this club stands for and always has done: we are the plucky underdogs who never give up.
That kind of spirit is what got us good results in our last two outings against Rotherham and Wolves. These last minute salvage operations are always put down to belief instead of ability and while that may seem odd (because without ability you can`t get anywhere, right?) I think that belief is what can save a club like ours. However, that belief can`t just come from those out on the pitch or the manager. The fans have a big part to play too.
Fans are often credited with big wins and are made to look fantastic by both managers and players when they discuss them. This, of course, isn’t always true. No one person or group of people is ever infallible and fans certainly aren`t. We have often turned our backs on Bolton, rightly or wrongly, when things haven`t gone our way. I sense many will disagree with me on this but a quick glance at our attendances since our relegation will lend my argument support. Whether it is conscious or not, some fans do not want to be part of a dying club. I hold my hands up and say I am guilty of it too. However, with the creation/backing of the BWFC Supporters Trust, we are starting to bring back the belief that has kept us going. For that we should be applauded and it is, in my view, something that can aid our escape.
The players, naturally, need to show belief that they can achieve big results. They have got two under their belts against MK Dons and Rotherham but that was the bare minimum. Bonus games, like today against Brighton, where we aren`t expected to win have to be added to the list if we are to survive. It will take more than just belief to do it but what we must remember is these players, at one time or another, have been signed because they can do a job and have shown they can do just that. It is time for them to reignite their dormant abilities. Even pariahs like Dorian Dervite have shown they can cut it in the past and, with some backing, I hope they can do it again.
Finally, there is one more section at the club whose belief is vital for us to remain in the Championship next season. The Board haven`t had much opportunity to alter event on the pitch this season but in the coming month they have one big decision to make. Their actions will be based on their answer to this question: do they believe we can survive? If yes, then they will fight off the pitch to not only find a buyer but also to keep the vultures away from precious facilities such as Euxton. If no, then administration will kill all hope and probably mean we go the way of Portsmouth. Those are the two ways I can see it going and I admit it`s a gamble. If it were me, I would always bet on Bolton.
Losses in our next two matches would kill a lot of belief from all of the aforementioned parties, but those with the real say are the Board. Financially it might make sense to take the relegation that would accompany administration, but is that what anyone really wants? What that course of action would represent is giving up on the club, and I refuse to ever do that. I hope all of us feel the same, because if we have no fight left in us, we are not Bolton Wanderers.
P.S. I would like to say a few words on the late Phil Gartside, if I may, because I am certainly guilty of throwing abuse and blame his way on numerous occasions in the past. His loyalty to the club was unquestionable and while some decisions clearly didn`t work out, you cannot fault the man for trying to help his team. I would like to pass on my condolences to his family and I am very glad that his last memory of Bolton was a huge win that, hopefully, gave him belief and optimism in his final moments