Black Saturday at the Reebok Sandcastle?
Date: Friday 16th January 2009
The Scum. The Filth. The Rags. Bolton fans have many colourful names for Manchester United, this weekend’s in-form visitors to a Reebok that’s been more sandcastle than fortress this season. The signs would appear to be that plenty more epithets will be aimed at the away end just before 5 o’clock.
I’ve never quite got most Bolton fans’ frothing hatred for the Red Devils – even in the Premier League, they’ve more often than not been on a different planet to us, which makes them rivals in geography only. Still, it’s always good to take a big scalp, as we did in this fixture last season.
Wanderers ground out a dogged 1-0 victory which promised much but actually proved to be the last bright spot on a subsequent downward spiral to the bottom three, after a brief revival upon the arrival of Gary Megson at the club. It seems we always beat them in the years we struggle; the two Allardyce wins over the Old Traffords came in the first two seasons back in the top flight, when we were mostly rubbish, as we were last term.
So, with us mid-table, but closer to the bottom than top, can Megson mastermind another memorable moment? It would appear unlikely. Bolton is on a shocking run of one win in some seven games with not a single draw in that number. Whilst it would be easy to blame the manager, for once I won’t; we’ve been up against top five teams in that run and whilst Wigan was largely unforgivable, the Pies are in good form. And the physio’s room at the Reebok would have even Florence Nightingale stressed up to her eyeballs right now.
United, by contrast, are frighteningly unstoppable at the moment and look unlikely to lie down and have a nice rest any time soon. Liverpool practically threw in the title towel when El Prickado went rabid before the Fourth Estate last week, whilst Torres shrugged his shoulders and talked the Scousers out of the race. If even Liverpool have had enough, it does not bode well for us, with some fans even talking of a second Black Sunday.
You’d be inclined to agree with that prescription, certainly a 3-0 reverse seems optimistic at best. But with Rooney and Evra reportedly absent, who knows? The gritty draw that just evaded us at Arsenal last week would be a perfect tonic after a week of transfer disappointment. United’s run has to end sometime, surely? Then comes our, erm, easy games…