We’re Bolton and we’re barmy and we’re on the piss tonight.
A short jaunt up the road for this FA Cup fourth round tie is a good opportunity to see how bleak things can get awfully quickly even for teams who look like Premier League fixtures. Bolton Wanderers, and especially their chairman Phil Gartside, were never shy of talking themselves up as the brash new face of thrusting top-flight football, what with their new stadium and Big Sam Allardyce’s extensive team of sports scientists and ProZone professionals that would have put Sugar Ray Robinson’s entourage to shame.
Well they are fucked now, and Dougie ‘spelt with an ‘oo’, like the tea’ Freedman is their manager.
Allardyce’s shadow still looms large over the Reebok – legend has it that when the wind blows in a certain direction you can still get a faint whiff of one of his infamous ‘steak bake guffs’ in the directors box bogs – and indeed over any sort of website that exists almost exclusively to take the piss out of football. They’ve fallen a long way since their most recent ‘glory’ days of watching Youri Djorkaeff and Jay Jay Okocha and regularly finishing in the Premier League top 10. Now it’s Keith Andrews, Marvin Sordell and a number of ex-Liverpool shitehawks. Oh, and Kevin Davies, still.
Obviously Everton will be expected to win this then, but they will have to perform a lot better than they did at St. Mary’s on Monday night, regardless of the level of the opposition.
There seems to be an increasing number of people if not demanding then at least suggesting that David Moyes should drop Nikica Jelavic for this one and replace him with Victor Anichebe following their respective ‘horror miss’ and ‘lively substitute appearance’ in the week. The Everton boss has his own methods for dealing with these matters, but you would like to think that he would approach Jelavic and ask him whether he wants to be rested and then gauge the Croatian’s reaction. Ideally he would respond by saying that he wants to get back out there, work hard and put things right. In which case he should start. The problem with just dropping Jelavic, almost as a ‘punishment’ for his drop in form is similar to one faced whenever Tim Howard is playing badly. If deep down you don’t really believe that the replacement is better than the fella being dropped then you risk further denting the main man’s confidence. If Anichebe starts against Bolton, for instance, and has a poor game himself, where does that leave you? Arguably worse off than if you told Jelavic that you believe in him regardless and are confident that he will come good.
Whether Kevin Mirallas is match fit enough to start yet isn’t clear – if he does though, hopefully he plays out on the right wing. Moyes seems unable to resist the temptation to play him through the middle, presumably just to try and have his pace and shooting skills stationed closer to the opposition goal. He seems to get bogged down there though, fighting with cavemen for knee-high bobblers, and causes more panic when he picks the ball up wide, gets turned and runs at defences.
No ballboys were harmed in the production of this article.