The Season Just Gone - Part One
Date: Sunday 25th May 2008Pre Season
Already here were Gerald Cid and Jlloyd Samuel (just about) though he can claim to be Sammy Lee’s first signing. An injured Blerim Dzemaili joined the club having been signed on a pre-contract as our creative midfield answer only to go and do his cruciates. Bugger.
The first money Sammy Lee spent went on Gavin McCann who joined for around £1 million. The largest outlay was Heider Helguson from Fulham for £2million. Danny Guthrie came in on loan from Liverpool having spent the back end of the previous season at Southampton, earning strong reviews there. Another loan slot was filled with the signing of Xabi's brother Mikel, apparently a holding midfielder in the same vein as his brother. Sammy’s decision to go 4-4-2 and get us playing some sexy football saw winger Christian Wilhelmson join on a season loan, which proved to be the signing that whetted the fans appetites the most. Daniel ‘shit hot on you tube’ Braaten followed near the end of pre-season signing on a three year (cripes) deal to add some pace to the front line.
Headline News and what we all thought
The biggest pre-season headline news had already happened in all honesty, with the departure of a certain Mr Allardyce. When the fixtures were announced for the season we were to be re-acquainted right away as Newcastle at home was our opening fixture. A lot of pundits had written us off already but we all seemed quite defiant…after all we’re Bolton, that’s what we do.
Not strictly related to us (but it blatantly was) was Allardyce's ‘break’ from football lasting less than a month and him ending up in 'toon. We were thrilled! (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=11600).
There was a mixed reaction to Lee taking over in April but this isn’t the place to go other this now. As ever we all seemed happy enough, had high hopes for Wilhelmson (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=12426 ) but the main concern seemed to be over our perceived lack of creativity in the centre of the park to make this new passing work (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=12345 ) although the aforementioned signing of wingers did get some of our hopes up (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=12520 ) . Go on have a look back at some of those threads (predicted starting XI’s here - http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=12586) …found this one from yours truly “I'm hoping for some creativity, through balls, Wilhelmson to get round the back of defences and cut the ball back, with Anelka on the end of them all as well.”. Ooops. And my starting XI?
The transfer window shut on the 31st, we all panicked about Anelka for a while, West Ham slapped a bid in amongst possibly others, there was some interest from the rags but ultimately he signed a new deal (reaction here - http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=12926&highlight=anelka+contract) with the super whites. Kudos to Sammy Lee it would seem.
We also signed Andy O Brien, one with a mixed reaction (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=12725&highlight=brien) some seeing sense, some not being able to look past his past errors. We never got that pacy creative midfielder we all craved, nor the top quality centre half we wanted after we all realised Gerald Cid was sh*t.
One big exit this month as well. The ‘destroyer’ Abdoulaye Faye upped sticks and joined up with the man we were fast starting to love to hate, Sam Allardyce in Newcastle.
Headline News and what we all thought
How sh*te we were at the back was one of the main talking points. Allardyces return came and went as quickly as we could delete the memory of it. We got battered for those of us lucky enough to forget, 3-0 down at half time and eventually pulling one back for it to look a bit more respectable. Ricardo Vaz Te started in place of Diouf due to some scorching pre-season form and ended up injured, likely to be out for a while. Diouf spat his dummy about being benched. This defeat was swiftly followed by another at Fulham, a game in which the Helg scored on his full debut (freakish goal, keeper dropping the ball at his feet) only to get another season threatening injury for the whites.
We got battered 3-1 at Pompey (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=12780) the following Saturday (James B’s plan of watching the grass grow saved him at least from the pain) and were joint bottom with Derby. Oh dear. This game was most notable for the infamous Kevin Nolan quote (when asked on his thoughts on being subbed) "I don't know where I'm playing at the moment, mate. And I don't know why I was taken off." I also found one of my posts from the pompey match thread “we certainly wont be taking points from the top teams as of old” which I didn’t have to wait too long to be proved wrong on, but I was ultimately proven generally correct.
Reading was considered by some to be win or bust…thankfully we hammered them 3-0, Speed notching a header from a corner to become the only player to score in every season of the premiership (something he will lose next season), the elk who was heading up the top scorers list and Daniel Braaten late on (yes really!).
Headline News and what we all thought
The month started with a late defeat to Everton, main culprits Gerald Cid for making the worst attempt at a sliding tackle ever witnessed at the Reebok and Mikel Alonso for leaving his post in the 90th minute while defending a corner. The elk scored again, a cracking volley. Nolan had a minor altercation with the EL at the end, Batman in a quite out of character moment for him told our Kev to “f*ck off” (details here - http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=12953). The match was the 10th anniversary of the Reebok, a repeat of the first game there with a similar level of disappointment unfortunately. Sluffy gave us a list of all time Reebok goalscorers, which Super Dean Holdsworth headed up (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=12974). Something warned me he might not be troubled this season… The next match came and went with zip all for us to sing about, other than the first “You don’t know what you’re doing” aimed at Sammy Lee and his new assistant Archie Knox. A 1-0 defeat to Birmingham. Take any positives from that one Sammy? Peter Thompson certainly didn’t “how the hell can you defend sammy lee, he is a f**king liabilty “ (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13067). Some idiot suggested Kevin Davies could solve our defensive crisis (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=12980).
Waffa cup kicked off, away to a team of robots. We scraped a 1-1 draw (match thread http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13065) in one of our worst displays of the season. Your friend and mine Abdoulaye Meite netting for the whites late late on.
We played an out of sorts Tottenham at home the following Saturday, in the game billed by’t papers as the manager who lost (Lee/Jol) would be getting sacked. Guess what? It was a draw. Campo returned from exile (some more suspicious than me suggested the East Lower had picked the team) and scored on his first start of the season. “Ivan's always been in my plans” suggested Sammy. Oh really? Just not your Uefa cup squad then matey (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13160). That gained an interesting reaction, particularly when we realised that the list wasn’t in until after the transfer window shut.
The next match was a Carling Cup game to Fulham. Most notable because we got a win! At Fulham! Fatshaft even saw some positives (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13170) from Sammy Lee in this (what was he thinking?). Guthrie scored a cracking volley and Stelios netted the winner in Extra Time.
And so to Derby. We were below them in the league (how bad is that?) by virtue of their win over Toon and a couple of draws they’d picked up. We managed to become another team who Derby had picked a point from, with a Nico Anelka equaliser giving us a point. Two teams playing for Bolton Bench? (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13182) Were either of them any good? Wilhelmson seemed to impress off the bench in this one.
Spotted this gem as well from SOTW – Sammy Lees email inbox (this part 2, dunno where part 1 went) - http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13003.
Headline News and what we all thought
October started positively (hehe) enough with us scraping through to the group stages of the UEFA Cup (where we drawn against world football giants Bayern Munich, at the Allianz Arena) (reaction here - http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13216), but it ultimately proved a month of major turmoil, season defining if you will.
Sammy Lee got the chop, Gary Megson was brought in. The rest is history. Rumours of a coalition of Nolan/Speed/Hunt going to Gartside following Speedo’s removal as coach and Nolans removal from the first team flew around but we were below Derby FFS. When you look at it in the harsh light of day, 9 games in or not something had to be done. The sacking followed the Chelsea game where Nolan was dropped, where to quote Caps “Played pretty well today, but once again, to no great effect” (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13239).
Nottingham Blancs posted a great Daniel Braaten appreciation thead – here’s what Megsons missing out on people - http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13287. A true men amongst men.
Back to business and the Lee (and McParland) out thread is available here - http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13330. A lot of people on there (wont name names) weren’t happy…have you changed your tune now??
HRG was hopeful over the replacement “I would imagine if he's gone it's because we have someone lined up so don't be surprised if it is a "brisk" decision” but could he have predicted…the Ginger Mourinhio? Jewell was the favourite in the poll (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13056), closely followed by ‘Other’ (whooo?). I’ll just remind everyone that Fatshaft would have had Neil Warnock . We landed Megson, people weren’t happy but Sluffy told us why we should be (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13427).
In between appointments we visited Arsenal who were then walking away with the league. We pulled off a respectable 0-2, but it didn’t tempt us into appointing Archie Knox full time. The fans abused Megson from the off in his first official game in charge against Braga in his favourite competition, the UEFA cup. We drew 1-1 Diouf scored for us off the bench but we succumbed to an 87th minute equaliser. We had a crowd of about 10,000 on (30ish from Portugal made the visit) and it was shite.
I’m not going to review the appointment of Megson here, it 'aint the place. BWFCI’s thread on the nonsense from sections of the supporters sums it up nicely though (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13427).
Megsons first real game in charge brought about a 1-1 draw, Nico scored a terrific free kick but Luke Moore equalised for the high flying midlanders. Not a disaster. We got put out of the Carling cup by City who in bringing 6,000 fans probably outnumbered us at the Reebok…not our finest hour.
Headline News and what we all thought
The month started off well actually. When looking back on our season I think the 90th minute equaliser by Kevin Nolan which earned us a decent point could be seen as one of those key turning points. The new manager effect which Sammy Lee couldn’t manage to galvanise on his first managerial visit to Upton Park was in effect as we battled our way to a well earned point. The 90th minute element made it all the more sweeter, choice quotes from the match thread (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13534) come from A1 “gazmeg for a ten year contract !!” (not even joking apparently), Batman “Read this” (oh go on I’ll link to it - http://www.kumb.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=96487&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=360), Marshall42 “I thought we deserved the point, but at times the chuckle brothers would have been better in our defence.” Any reference to the chuckle brothers gets my vote btw.
Four days later and we had a visit to our first European away game of the UEFA group stages. Yes Bolton Wanderers were going to take on Bayern Munich! Anyone wanting to re-live the match thread and excellent match report () look here - http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13599.The 4,000 going were slightly excited…I count it as one of the experiences of watching Bolton Wanderers, and I suspect a lot of those who went agree with me. Have a read of the thread but the fact we took a total scratch team (for the record – Al Habsi, Cid, Michalik, O’Brien (A), McCann, Nolan, Guthrie, Gardner, Braaten, Alonso, Davies) and got that equaliser (Who put the ball in the Munich net? Super Kevin Davies!) makes the achievement much better. Shove Nou Camp ‘99 up your arse Clive Tyldlsey.
I’ll leave you with Bruce Rioja's neat summation: “"It would have been easy to win the game," Rummenigge said.
That's what Hitler thought, you wanker.”
The Sunday after we were understandably enough jaded, though some ‘fresh’ faces who didn’t play on the Thursday didn’t help. End result 0-0 with Boro. YAWN.
We played a 1-1 draw out with the Greek from Aris, which we were extremely lucky to get to be honest. Stelios last minute anyone? Superb.
Can’t think of anything else that happened BWFC wise in November…oh yeah we beat the scum at the Reebok. “Ginger Mourinhio” went the chant as our master defence kept another clean sheet and Anelka secured the first home win against united for a very long time (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13635). Ferguson didn’t like it and got sent to the stands, cue v signs and general hatred from us lot. Apparently Kevin Davies doesn’t like Patrice Evra either.
Any of us out there still think we’d be relegated after those results was the question on the Durham Wanderer’s lips (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13728) apparently not…nothing like counting chickens though is there?
So from the disaster that was October, a pretty good November by all accounts.
Headline News and what we all thought
In terms of the on the pitch action the month started badly with a pasting at Liverpool. Whites minus the on-loan Guthrie who could not play against his parent club and Anelka missed a sitter in a bit of a non-event for the Whites really. According to Tombwfc Batman sensibly summed it “if you had offered me a win against the filth and a tonking against these jokers then i would have ripped your hand off (the other hand on my wallet) “ (match thread - http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13748). So we’ll leave that one there.
The following Thursday brought about a far more important UEFA cup match anyway. The three draws left the Whites needing a win and hoping results went the right way in the last set of fixtures to progress. Unfortunately we were playing in Belgrade, against Red Star who no British team had ever beaten on their own pitch. They hadn’t considered the ‘McCann factor’ however and his threaded shot into the bottom corner got the Wanderers another place in the record books, and thankfully results went the right way leaving us undefeated in the UEFA cup and more importantly in the next round. The fans were held in some hotel by the cops but apparently the ones who escaped had a laugh in the city. Either way the result was the right one which is all that mattered!! General Mannarheim lost his scarf…how? Only he knows threads here - http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13276 if you want to try and unravel the mystery.
Next match was Wigan at home, we were all concerned about the after effects of Belgrade but Ginger Mourinho (or as SOTWA eloquently put it “That overpaid fake cxck should be in tears of joy if he was ever named 'The brunette Megson'” (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13846) rotated his squad perfectly to have a fresh Anelka in the side which tw*tted Wigan 4-1. One of the most satisfying results of the season this, Steve Bruce’s team didn’t have a prayer. They even gave us an opening goal before the elk missed a pen (the signs were there Avram…). Wigan equalised thanks to some god awful defending from the man Meite. Davies scored off a free kick, Nolan scored then ‘dummied’ for the icing on the cake, Anelka’s fourth. We missed some decent chances that match, but how satisfying was it? I think the consensus on the math thread (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13834) was we played poor but outclassed the inbreds. Sweet!
Anelka move talk gathered pace this month…but he’s only just signed a five year deal? Surely not?
We went ahead twice in the next game at Man City only to defend like a team of schoolgirls and got beat 4-2, though the 4th came because we were chasing the game (I’m looking at you Nicky Hunt). Lubomir Michalik started this one in what proved to be his last start for Bolton (I think). He marked it with an og, though Mr McDonalds himself Hamann claimed it. Arguments raged on the match thread (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13858) about Meite (Mummy – class act, commie – bastard lovechild of Titus Bramble and Gladstone Small) but we all agreed at the time with bw@bw “Premier League attack - Sunday League Defence”.
Speaking of which, Birmingham were next up at the Reebok. Now with Alex McLeish at the helm they were on an indifferent run of form, and to be honest were the worst team we saw all season. We all agreed on that which may explain why the match thread is so short (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13906&). It took us until 72 minutes to get one, Diouf obliged. Anelka capitalised from assist of the season from Muamba, kindly threw it to him when he was one on one with Maik Taylor, and the third was off a Nolan trough ball bang on 90 mins. Birmingham didn’t have a shot all match. Anyone over to Warthog “Guess who's last on MOTD?”. Ahhh right, never mind.
You’ll have to forgive me here because I went away at Christmas but we travelled to Everton and Sunderland. It was us who little or no shots at Everton (match thread – only 5 pages long! http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13972) on Boxing Day, and Sunderland on the 29th. Another away game, another defeat and not a lot of the Wanderers contingent from TW made it. Athers was one “Looked ugly on the highlights. It sounded like we thumped them second half but in reality there weren't 3 highlights of us attacking in the second half.” (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13855&) So it bode for an interesting January. We were all being told Anelka was off, but was he? Who would replace him? How much would we get if sold? Who would we sign to shore up the leaky defence? Tombwfc fancied a chap called Gary Cahill (http://www.the-wanderer.co.uk/boards/viewtopic.php?t=13729). A lot of us didn’t agree…
TO BE CONTINUED