Who are you? We’re Bolton Wanderers, minus the diving Diouf


Just when we needed a meek bunch of surrender monkeys to come to the Stadium of Light, roll over and remind us of what it’s like to win in the Premier, our opponents go and change their new manager. Will Owen Coyle – still to be officially apppointed as we write – apply the well-known clauses of Sod’s Law and galvanise his new team? Or can, for once, Sunderland play to potential and not only score but score at least one more than the other team, thus taking our first double of the season. Or will, indeed, the grim weather force a postponement in any case? Chris Mann*, from the Burnden Aces fan site, is a welcome return visitor to Salut! Sunderland …

Salut! Sunderland Bolton were the last team we managed to beat away in the Premier. That’s pretty much the story of our season but how has it been for you?

Most of us started the season a little optimistic that we could get points on the board early on, then within five minutes of the first game Darren Bent put an end to it all.

We went on a little run in September but since then struggled and it was no surprise that Gary Megson was sacked (unless of course you work for the media and jump on the anti-Bolton bandwagon). We did all right in December, but we need to stop throwing leads away and turn a few of our draws into wins.

What do you make of the fact and timing of Gary Megson’s sacking and how do you assess, overall, the Megson years?

At the time of writing we’re still without a manager but once Bolton and Burnley stop messing about with compensation Owen Coyle should be in the hot seat. Whether he will pick the team on Saturday is unknown but he’s a very popular choice amongst the fans having played for us in the mid-90s.

As for Gary Megson, many fans didn’t give the guy a chance and even protested before he took charge of his first game. He did pretty well at the start, drawing with Bayern Munich and beating Manchester United, but after somehow surviving in his first season we never really progressed. Some strange tactical decisions and substitutions late in his reign were the end of him.

Do youaccept that Wanderers are in a relegation battle again, and what does it need to turn things around?

We simply cannot defend. For the first time in a long time we seem to be finding the back of the net on a regular basis, but cannot for the life of us hold on to a lead. It doesn’t matter how many goals you score, if you can’t defend then the opposition are always going to score more.

We’ve had some real scraps over the past few years, you winning when necessary, walloping us on our own turf. Is it a fixture you look forward to?

I usually see this as a fixture where the home side should win. Sunderland have a poor record at the Reebok and we have a poor record at the Stadium of Light, apart from last season when we put an end to Roy Keane (shame).

I’ve never been to Sunderland before so I’ve never had the chance to look forward to it, but come Saturday that might be different under new management.

Were you sad, pleased or unconcerned when Newcastle went down and do you reckon they’ll hold their own back in the Premier?

Like most of the nation I thought it was hilarious when they went down. Our former skipper Kevin Nolan is getting a lot of rave reviews this season, but many Wanderers fans believe he has found his level after struggling for the last two years with us. I think they’re certain to come back up and with the squad they have they
should be looking to survive easily. It will be interesting to see how Nolan does next season!

Name this season’s top four, in order.

Manchester United
Aston Villa

And the bottom three.


Assuming neither of our clubs was in the first list, and hoping we weren’t in the second, where will Bolton and Sunderland finish up?

Sunderland started off well and I would have tipped you for Europe, but after a bit of an inconsistent couple of months I think you’ll finish around 10th. As for Bolton, it all depends how we do under a new manager. Under Megson we probably would have just about stayed up, but hopefully with a breath of fresh air around the Reebok we can push on to anywhere between 11th and 15th.

Do links between players and staff who have served both clubs – Allardyce, Colin Todd, McCann, Peter Reid, Diouf to name but a few – mean much to you? Any memories good or bad?

After the 4-1 game last season a lot was made of Diouf’s little “reunion” with the Bolton players and effectively put an end to his non-start career at Sunderland. I was surprised he didn’t last long but after seeing his recent form at Blackburn, maybe you were right to get rid! Obviously Todd and Allardyce mean a lot to Bolton as they have both played a huge part in our success in the last 15 years, the less said about the other two the better!

The Eduardo question: only a win will keep you up on the final day of the season. In the last second, Gary Cahill goes down and gets a penalty even though everyone in the ground except the ref knows he dived. Wanderers score, win and stay up. You take it gladly, you take it guiltily or you’re so ashamed you almosgt wish you’d only drawn?

Everybody hates a player who dives, unless they’re one of their own. One famous incident for us at Bolton is Diouf diving at Blackburn and scoring the penalty to give us a 1-0 win.

Bolton fans had a good laugh at the time (and still do), but there isn’t any place for it in the game for me. Now look where Diouf plays his football!

Should Ngog, Henry, Drogba and countless A N Others be added to that question and was it outrageous to use Mr Cahill’s name?

Your little dig at Mr Cahill was highly inappropriate. You forgot to add a certain Steven Gerrard to the list by the way!

Club v country: rooting for England all the way in S Africa or too concerned with Bolton to care much?

I’ll be supporting England when the time comes, but for now there is a lot going on at Bolton to even acknowledge the World Cup. We should have a couple of players there in Lee Chung-Yong and hopefully Gary Cahill so it
could be an interesting summer for us.

Will you be at the Sunderland v Bolton match? What will be the score?

At the time of writing I don’t have a match ticket. I’m waiting for the announcement of Owen Coyle as our new manager. If he is announced before the game then I’ll be straight up to the Reebok to get a ticket and take
advantage of free travel from the club. For once I think we may take a good away following to your place.

I’ve also wrote a preview for you last season before we won 4-1 so I’m hoping for a repeat of that scoreline!

* Chris Mann on Chris Mann:
I’m the guy behind the Burnden Aces website and I’m known on the web as Manny. I’m a 20-year-old student at The University of Bolton and was brought up in the town, so that explains my choice of team. I’ve been a season ticket holder for nine years now and after our recent form on the road I’d banned myself from going to anymore away games this season. But with the sacking of Megson and hopeful appointment of Coyle, I’ll be following them across the country again, though I wasn’t one of the unlucky few who went down to Arsenal on Wednesday night.

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