Ologies, Scopies, and Mancies
Date: Saturday 31st January 2009Haruspicy is prediction of the future by cutting open a goat - splashing its entrails over the ground and poking about in them to see meaning. The selection of the Bolton midfield is a little bit like that.
The innards of the Bolton midfield comprise Kevin Nolan (but not anymore), Gavin McCann, Fabrice Muamba, Mark Davies, Tamir Cohen, Chris Basham, RickyG, Joeyo, Matty Taylor and, arguably, whichever of the 'strikers' is not playing the lone role up front. Every week the innards are splashed into a team in different combinations and the future still seems uncertain. The job is easier when players are suspended or injured (or sold to Newcastle) - because then the permutations are fewer and the team picks itself - but still there is a sense of uneasiness that we simply have not got this right yet.
There are other ways to predict the future, favoured by different members of the squad...
Ricardo Vaz Te favours Gyromancy - divination by twirling around until dizzy and falling.
Ebi Smolarek favours Cartomancy - fortune telling by using playing cards on the bench, it's pretty much all he does.
Kevin Davies favours Tephromancy - using ashes from sacrificial Centre-backs he has slaughtered himself.
(Scatoscopy - the prediction by the examination of excrement has been abandonned by the club since Cid left, likewise Uromancy (guess for yourself!), since Nicky Hunt lost his regular place.)
but none of them really knows what is going on at the club - and what kind of team/performance will materialise on Saturday.
Harry Redknapp favours Phrenology (reading bumps on the head) andMetoposcopy (reading facial wrinkles) but I doubt even he knows what to expect tomorrow. Both teams approach the game in poor form and locked together on 24 points, with only Spurs' superior goal difference separating them. Mottyomancy (the prediction of the future by poring over endless statistical permutations) is at first encouraging. Bolton have gained more points (26) and scored more goals (24) against Tottenham, than against any other club in the Premier League. But, This fixture brings together Bolton, who've failed to score more often than any other club in the Premier League (12 games), and Spurs, who've conceded the opening goal on the most occasions (15 games).
Guess-the-Bolton-team is a game only played by mugs these days. Nobody knows who Megson's favoured Centre-back pairing is - except that one of them will be Cahill (this would already be his 100th league start for Bolton). The midfield is a poke in the entrails - (as described above) - but some argue it will be gutless since (as I type) Kevin Nolan is in Newcastle being introduced to a treadmill (Kev: "you do WHAT on that thing?? Whatever will they think of next! Can I have a pie first?") Elmander is sure to start if he is fit - but that's always a king-sized IF. Matty Taylor and Ricardo don't seemingly fit together with JLS in the same team - so Ricardo can expect another benching along with Ebi and his cards.
Bigsamgiveusawave-omancy is the prediction of the future by studying crowd reactions. The recent vociferous w*nker-chants at Megson and the absence of Kevin Nolan (and fresh memories of him proudly holding aloft a black and white striped shirt proclaiming to the world that he has always dreamed of playing for Newcastle) will surely be fresh on the crowd's mind. It's difficult to know which way the crowd will swing - possibly dependent on how the team fronts up to the challenge tomorrow, but let's hope the crowd grasps the importance of this fixture and gets right behind them. Let's save the Megson out stuff for keyboard warriors and not air our dirty laundry so publically. Don't be surprised if we all wipe away a tear and sing "One Kevin Nolan... there's only one Kevin Nolan" (even if we do mutter under our breath "just as well else we'd have needed a bigger team bath").
Last season, this fixture ended 1-1, Ivan Campo (remember him?) scoring the equaliser to Keane's early strike. They have both left the building, and this fixture is important. Nolan or no Nolan - sod the transfer window for 90 minutes - let's make some noise and send the softy-southern-poofcakes home with nowt.
NB: Some of the divination-methods are made up and should not be attempted at home without adult supervision!