Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
The poem quoted above was written by a well-known Jamaican poet, Claude McKay, who must have been a fan of Bolton Wanderers. This writer has never experienced this level of ambivalence towards the performance of a football club that has become a part of the fabric of the lives of several thousands of people worldwide. The unthinkable has actually happened where supporters of the club have started to wish for a loss in the hope that it will spell the end of manager Owen Coyle's reign.
In the recent games against Crystal Palace and Leeds United, the performances were generally thought to have been of marginally better quality than a number of those that have gone before. It is also generally agreed that they could not have been much worse either. Improved performances in two games that yielded a grand total of one point, considering that they were played at home where we have been better this season and that we have targeted two points per game on average over the season, is clearly not good enough.
Our erstwhile manager, Owen Coyle, has clearly heard the calls for his head and has come out swinging. In a response to the criticism that has been levelled at him, he has been quoted as saying of his detractors, "If they are not from a footballing background, then that happens. You take it on the chin as you always do." He went on to say this: “Regardless of what someone else's tactics are, if you are at yourself, it nullifies theirs. People in football will understand that, people out of football won't.” This has brought back shades of his predecessor and that infamous "people in football" quote attributed to the Chairman, Phil Gartside.
Football officials in the Championship have also drawn his ire, with Coyle sending off a DVD compilation of "foul-ups, bleeps and blunders" that have been committed against Bolton Wanderers to the higher-ups in the refereeing hierarchy, in an effort to bring to the fore all the wrongs that have been committed against the club, which he said is "... costing us because we could easily be sitting here with 18 or 19 points and near the top of this league."
Many fans are crying out for simple, basic football - passing the ball along the ground, controlling the ball and looking for a pass, passing the ball and moving into position to receive a possible return pass - things that most of us are exposed to at the earliest amateur level. These have not been happening with any consistency for far too long. Clearly, there is no guarantee that we will be promoted this season, despite the backing of former manager Gary Megson who has tipped the club for an automatic promotion spot - and on current form, it is not going to happen. All we ask though, is that if we must die, let us nobly die - pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
Written by Keegan