I thought I had accepted Bolton’s fate on Sunday evening. As I sipped a pint of the black stuff and considered the game against West Brom, I was convinced: if you can’t beat West Brom at home when you’re two-nil up with 15 minutes to play, then you can’t beat Stoke away. As simple as that.
We were down, I thought. Not a chance in Hell (or Stoke, as it is historically known).
However, you know from reading this blog that my mood swings are as vicious as a cornered cape porcupine (that’s pretty vicious), and so it proves again. I think we can do it. I hope we can do it. But I’m still not sure I believe we can do it.
If you’d said on the 1st of January, when Bolton held up the entire Premier League, that we’d go into the last game needing a win to give us a real chance of survival, I might have taken that. Only one team has ever survived after being bottom at Christmas, never mind bottom a week after Christmas.
But I’m still not sure I would believe we could do it. Stoke away is a pain in the neck. I was there last season, and watched us capitulate 2-0. I was, of course, at Wembley when we capitulated and lost 5-0. But I was also there when we beat them 5-0 in return earlier this season.
And it’s results like this that give you hope. Not belief, you understand; but hope. And it’s the hope that makes it so painful when things don’t work out.
Still; Bolton go into the game in Staffordshire well and truly in the mix. A win should be enough, anything else certainly isn’t.
The Wanderers need to stand up and be counted. It’s just a shame that our injury list means that although our players are ready and willing to be counted; not many of them can actually stand up.
But they will fight on Sunday, I have no doubt One final push, and we could be in dreamland on Sunday night. Just don’t expect to see me at work on Monday morning.