In the latter days of Bolton’s tenure in the Premier League it was common for fans to dread certain fixtures. For example, those against clubs like Manchester United and Chelsea who came to view such games as target practice. That the same fears are now being expressed, regarding the visit of Burnley on Tuesday night, shows how far and how fast the Wanderers have fallen.
The principal worries centre around Sam Volks and ‘Whistling’ Danny Ings who have bagged 39 goals between them this season. They’ll be up against Matt Mills and Zat Knight who aren’t so much Dumb and Dumber, as Basic and Clueless.
This will be heartening news for the away fans, who are still miffed that Owen Coyle left to join Bolton, in what he saw as an upward step. The irony is, is that it was Coyle who saw to a levelling of the relationship.
Aside from that, Burnley have a mild local rivalry with the home team that goes back a few decades, but there’s nothing like the poisonous antipathy that exists between them and Blackburn Rovers. This is a shame, as they’re the only two sets of opposing supporters who can high-six each other. Make friends, people. Then you can indulge in a spot of sister swapping and jam on banjo tunes together.
Coming to the Reebok will be something of an eye opener for Clarets followers, but at least they’ll be a bit cleaner than usual, thanks to the recent floods. It isn’t just in sanitary matters that Burnley is somewhat behind the times. Everything there is still in black and white.
Some advice to the rambling hordes from East Lancashire: Try not to point and stare at the floodlights. They aren’t magic. The glare comes from something called ‘electricity.’ One day, you’ll have it too.
The occasion will present opportunities for those with an entrepreneurial streak, so expect a few stalls alongside the burger vans. There is a requirement for items seen as luxury goods in Burnley, such as doors and windows, and an almost insatiable appetite for animal pornography, bootleg liquor and dentures. There is no demand for reading material. Or soap.
As seems usual, these days, Bolton go into this match as second favourites. In a miserable season, new depths have been plumbed of late, in a run of ten league games, which have yielded five points and one win, and that was in a different calendar year.
At least loan signing, Lukas Jutkiewicz looks useful, even if Liam Trotter doesn’t. It’s early days of course, but on displays so far, Del Trotter would have been a more useful acquisition.
A heavy defeat may see the end of Dougie Freedman’s reign as manager, in which case there’ll be a post-match whip round to go toward his severance package. Having said that, it’s possible that Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside, still thinks that his latest appointee is doing a good job, but then what Garty doesn’t know about football can be written in a 24 volume encyclopaedia.
Perhaps Bolton will raise their game as they did against Nottingham Forest and disaster can be averted. If that seems overly confident, then bear this in mind. Another football club is interested in the aforementioned Zat Knight. Really. Ok, the enquires come from a country where the principal sporting event features a wrestling match lasting three days, between gigantic men wearing tights and shoulder pads aka The Superbowl. But it just shows that anything can happen.
- Richard McCormick