Yesterday was the most important result of Bolton’s season.
“I know,” I hear you cry. “I read the title of the blog.”
Seriously though, it was huge. Three points was an absolute necessity, given the far from impressive start that the Wanderers have made to the season. If we had failed win yesterday, I honestly think Mr Gartside would have removed the dagger from his draw, still dripping with the blood of Megson, and dangled it precariously above Coyle’s head. It was that big.
With the season barely underway before the international weekend brought it to a temporary halt once again, the Watford game felt like something of a fresh start. It wasn’t the first game of the season, but it felt a bit like it, and if there was one thing Bolton needed it was a second chance to hit the ground running. Lord knows they didn’t take their first one.
Although large sections of the crowd have turned against Coyle, very few would tell you they don’t like the man himself; it’s just that he hasn’t demonstrated an ability to turn a struggling team around. We’ve been battling bad results since the Wembley semi final, and try as he might, our beloved leader didn’t appear to know what to do to stop the rot.
But he has been there before. As our last blog shows, Coyle initially took Burnley to the lower echelons of the Championship in at the start of the season in which they won promotion. It’s an almost direct parallel, and far from being a straw at which we should clutch, it is a precedent that we should acknowledge as a reason to back our manager, and get behind his team.
That turnaround started yesterday. And in some style, too. The first half was Bolton at their best: free flowing football, chances galore, and two goals to show for it. Who would have thought Kevin Davies and David Ngog up top would channel such success? I’ll be the first to admit that I wouldn’t.
Goals for Mills and the rejuvenated captain sent Bolton fans in for their first contented half-time pint of the season. And it tasted good.
Now, the cynical among you will say that the first half performance counted for nowt, thanks to the far from gleaming show put on in the second half. We were pushed back, Watford created chances, and won the half 1-0 thanks to a fluke of a goal from a man who’d only ever scored once before. Pretty dismal stuff.
But, do you know what? That was to be expected. I lost count of the number of times Bolton had dreadful first halves last season, before putting on a far more spirited display in the second (only to lose because they’d conceded two goals before the break). It’s part of the game. At 2-0 we were comfortable, and as much as I wanted us to go on and thrash them, we did what had to be done.
I’m not papering over cracks here – if we play like we did in the second half then we’ll lose more than we win. But please try and remember the first half – the half that set us up for a victory that we took. It was vital that we did, and if the Whites pick up between three and six points from the next two games, it will have been a good week’s work.
Spearing played excellently yesterday, and after our last podast discussed the possibilities in defence, a small re-shuffle meant Alonso had the chance to prove his worth; and he did well. Let’s hope Ngog is not badly hurt, and that Sordell isn’t too downhearted at being overlooked against his former club (it should be noted that the latter was with the England under-21 squad last week, and was probably a little tired).
Let’s get behind the boys on Tuesday and Saturday – we are the one and only Wanderers after all. And our season has now started.