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Pained expressions at Bolton

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Phil McNulty | 19:12 UK time, Saturday, 19 September 2009

Cumbria may have played host to the World Gurning Championships on Saturday - but it is tough to imagine any of the lovingly-crafted pained expressions matching those on show at The Reebok.

Bolton fans wore masks of agony for almost the entire duration of a joyless match where even the relief of Matt Taylor's last-minute penalty and a first home point this season did not spare manager Gary Megson from a chorus of jeering at the final whistle.

And Stoke boss Tony Pulis made an entry of his own when defender Danny Collins temporarily took leave of his senses to hack down Sam Ricketts and squander a victory that was set up by Dave Kitson's splendid goal.

Pulis had recovered his poise slightly and was gentleman enough to check if there were any females present before giving vent to his feelings at his post-match inquest.

He kept it clean with a simple: "Am I disappointed or what?" And he was. And he should have been because Stoke were guilty of wasting an opportunity to add further substance to a promising start to the Premier League campaign.

megson_blog_afp.jpgBolton manager Gary Megson

Pulis at least had the satisfaction of witnessing Stoke exert a measure of control over a Bolton side of limited ambition and ability - much to the obvious chagrin of those who gather at The Reebok on a regular basis.

Stoke show signs of progression from the team that survived in comfort last season, underpinned by a superb home record and the deafening support inside The Britannia Stadium.

Pulis has built on his squad, adding Robert Huth to his defence and crucially fending off interest in Ryan Shawcross. It is a sign of movement in the right direction when Stoke can name a starting line-up with James Beattie and the highly-gifted Tuncay on the bench.

Stoke may not threaten the top end of the Premier League, but Pulis has done a job to be admired and his demeanour even after a draw that must have felt like a defeat oozed that of a man positive about his work and his team and who is appreciated by his supporters.

No such luxury for his opposite number. Megson, while positive about his work and his team, receives little appreciation from many Bolton fans. He has not won them over - and a measure of injustice lies in the fact that plenty were unconvinced by him even before he had taken charge of a game.

Bolton's fans are not enamoured by a primitive playing style, but it appears expectations have been raised to unattainable levels by Sam Allardyce guiding the club into Europe. This was the exception not a rule.

Megson has worked to consolidate Bolton's position in the Premier League, but there was an inescapable air of permanent dissatisfaction around The Reebok - although even the most patient would have been tested by a first 45 minutes that flouted its label as entertainment.

The jeering broke out at regular intervals during that first half and built to a crescendo as Mark Clattenburg sounded the whistle for the interval. And even the late equaliser failed to prevent more criticism pouring down on Bolton in general, and Megson in particular.

kitson_blog_getty.jpgDave Kitson scores for Stoke against Bolton

At one point in a dire first half, after a short burst of hostility from Bolton's fans, goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen appeared to turn to the crowd and motion for more support. It is impossible to imagine Thomas Sorensen having to do the same at The Britannia - and the respective home records emphasises the importance of such details.

Bolton's players will find it tough to flourish in such surroundings - in sharp contrast to Stoke at their Britannia fortress - and you get the impression that if Megson brought the Champions League trophy to The Reebok some fans would shrug and immediately ask him what he was going to do about retaining it.

Do not get me wrong here - Bolton's fans had every right to give vent to their disappointment but it is a tough and unforgiving environment for players and manager.

Bolton escaped with a point their performance barely deserved, but it will take a lot more than this to put smiles on the faces of The Reebok regulars and remove the scowls that greeted the conclusion of a game that will swiftly disappear from the memory.

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    What Bolton fans need is to spend a couple of seasons in the Championship! Hopefully, it will bring them back to their senses.

    Sure, Megson's team does not play an attractive brand of football, but would you be where Norwich / Charlton / Leeds / Southampton are?

  • Comment number 2.

    I was a Megson doubter but he has gotten the result at Bolton to keep them fairly comfortably in the league. If the team's morale suffers or he's chased out by unappreciative fans, they could well have to deal with what fans of clubs like Charlton have suffered. Not every club can get Arsene Wenger as manager, and those who don't and have few resources have to be realistic about what they can achieve.

  • Comment number 3.

    Unfortunately, this is all very accurate. I seem to be one of the few megson fans out there. i thought the job he did to save the side from the situation sammy lee had left them was fantastic. I even think he's bought well with the budget he's had (Garry Cahill, once a aston villa nobody warming the bench, is now one of the most reliable centre-halves in the premiership. It doesn't surprise me when he is linked with a top-four team).
    However, the team he has is now devoid of any creativity, inspiration, imagination, or adventure. It's not so much about the fans looking for total football at the reebok, just anything resembling a team capable of breaking down, and stretching an opposition defence. The team misses an okocha, a diouf, or a djorkaeff, and megson has had long enough to find one. This was highlighted today by a very well set-out stoke team hiding behind two sets of four. Bolton had nothing, and the majority of position they had consisted of two or three passes in midfield, before going back again, or sending the long ball up to a totally isolated Kevin Davies (he CANNOT carry this team!).

    Unfortunately, I think it's merely a matter of time for megson now. However, whoever gets hold of the team afterwards with discover the very same problems. You can only do so much with a midfields such as mccann...

  • Comment number 4.

    of course they were spoiled by allardyce's success- they were fun to watch w/ jj okocha and campo. even though they weren't great then there was the feeling one might see something interesting. what bolton needs now is another class player toward the end of his career to inspire a little bit and add some much needed creativity (on and around the ground)...

  • Comment number 5.

    Gary Megson has a history of alienating the fan base of the clubs he manages and this is solely down to the brand of football he wants his teams to play. Playing five in midfield with three defensive midfielders against an opposition that you should be wanting to beat if you wish to stay in the division is a sure fire way to alienate even those Bolton fans who have tried to justify his methods. Results maybe papering over the cracks but the club is charging head long in to civil war and the club's owner needs to realise this before it's too late.

  • Comment number 6.

    @RememberScarborough

    I dispute that Megson alienate's each set of fans at the clubs he has managed.
    Sure, at the clubs he managed in between his time at West Brom, and Bolton he failed to make progress and then his brand of football can do nothing for the fans, and lead many of them to move against him.
    But as a West Brom fan, I enjoyed the years we spent under him. Yes, the football was not a fantastic event to goto each week, but did we care? He took over our club late on in a season and against the odds kept us in the Division, and then turnee our club around from a team which had been at the wrong end of the league to promotion in two years, with limited funds, bringing in bullish hard workers.

    He took over Bolton in very similar circemstances, and kept them up with some good results along the way.

    He was a credit to our club as he changed our fortunes, and they remain changed to this day - he also changed Bolton's football who would already be playing the Championship football they are now grumbling about.
    I heard a Bolton fan mumble last week that "he is not progressing our dlub, were still at the lower end of rhe league" - Fans from hundreds of clubs lower down the football league table would gladly swop places with you, if you would prefer.


    I would not ask for Megson back now, as the brand of football we play these days now is very etertaing - and I understand why Bolton fans want to watch entertaining football.
    However it has taken us years to move from the brand Megson had us play to what we play now and in the period in between we remained in no man's land, without a set brand of football to mension. If Bolton find themselves in no mans land, they will be in the Championship for sure, meaning they can surely only appoint a manager who will play a similar brand of football?

    Being a Premiership club is a matter to be proud of first and foremost, and currently Bolton is a Premiership club currently because of Megson.

  • Comment number 7.

    i find this article very insulting towards Bolton fans, We dont expect to be finishing in europe every year but we do expect to be able to watch a certain amount of decent football. You have only been to watch one game and even you said it was dire! Try paying upwards of £30 a match to watch that excuse for football and i think you'd want to vent your anger and ire at Megson. He constantly puts his own players down in interviews and has promised attacking football which has definately yet to materialise. His tactics baffle all as he continues to play 3 holding midfielders a right back on the right wing and Kevin Davies upfront by himself, this was particularly baffling today as Davies was playing against a back 4 with an average height of 6ft 3" and had no hope of ever winning the ball and even if he did there was never anyone within 50yards of him to collect the flick ons. His record in the transfer window leaves alot to be desired, yes he has found gems such as cahill and steinsson (who was on the clus radar during allardyces time) but he has also spent money on awful players whom we didnt need eg Paul Robinson and Ricketts. This is money that could have been spent on the attacker and attacking midfielder that we desperately need. The money that he's spend totalling something in the region of 20-25 million is money that allardyce never had and yet he managed to bring in players of the class of hierro, campo, diouf, and anelka (who admittedly cost money but he was the acception to the rule). These players made the football nice to watch and made me exited to go to the games. Now i can barely drag myself along to the turgid awful mess that megson sets out before us now. To sum it all up after 3 years of promising good flowing attacking football when Gavin McCann is your best ball player on the park then you're stuffed, and thats why we boo Megson and why he should leave, he has alienated the fans and the club and we now stand seperated all due to him.

  • Comment number 8.

    Here's an idea.

    Give the fans what they want.

    Sack Megson.

    Then they'll be relegated, the Premier League will be better off without their horrible little club and their shocking 'fans' and they can whinge and moan about the next manager, safe in the knowledge that absolutely nobody gives a monkeys.

    Job's a good 'un.

  • Comment number 9.

    how could i forget okocha and djorkaeff aswell, true greats

  • Comment number 10.

    Bolton seem to be going slightly backwards every season, and if it wasnt for the usual clubs in turmoil/takeover/off field problems, theyd have been relegated seasons ago!

  • Comment number 11.

    I think Bolton fans should try backing the team and manager, all they do is moan about megson but hes left you in a much better position than what you were heading under sammy lee! your not going to get Big Sam back and theres not many other managers that are going to be able to take your club forward within your current budget.

    Its better to have the Devil you know than the Devil you dont.

    and personally i think if you got rid of megson, then you will suffer much more than you are now, with possibly the same brand of football but no results.

    Question is - Do you value your premiership status or your brand of football more? cause as bad as it is, there aint guna be room for your bolton side in the top half of the table with the amount of money and investment clubs are getting these days. I no what i would choose.

  • Comment number 12.

    I would never insult Bolton's fans. I am old enough to remember going to Burnden Park and enjoying some great times there with a wonderful atmosphere.

    I make the specific point that there was not much to excite the fans yesterday, but what did concern me was the haste with which their discontent was shown. It didn't take very long and put the whole place on edge.

    I accept that Gary Megson's management is a taste some of them will never acquire, but I also hope Bolton supporters would accept that the atmosphere at times yesterday was not conducive to their team playing relaxed, constructive football.


    And I ask the question: Has Gary Megson done that bad a job at Bolton when you examine the facts? He kept them up in his first season and they have not exactly been rooted to the bottom since.

    Let me know what you think.

  • Comment number 13.

    Well I have been following Bolton since 1995 and for all the criticism that was leveled at Big Sam he was at least getting a few big kills every season.

    I must admit that I have got pretty much used to our boring abrasive style of play but then there were a few more things we got used to since 2001.

    Getting to Europe is a luxury which we don't mind but then it is certainly not a prime objective for the team. Playing in a boring fashion is also OK as I am sure most of the fans are quite used to it.

    The things which I don't like:

    Megson's style is suited for Championship and not a Premier League team. The team is hardly half as abrasive as it used to be. Even the playing with "their backs to the wall" effort seems to be gone. If you want to play boring better make it tough. The replacements we have got in the past seem to be worse than what went out. I have little faith in Elmander, Ricketts and a lot of other players which Megson has picked up. We have barely got any big 4 scalps since Megson took over.


  • Comment number 14.

    Having moved up the the North West some years ago and wanting to watch some football I ended up a Bolton fan. Funny choice ?, Well Man U, hard to get seats and when you do you are so high up it's like watching little dots chasing a tiny dot, apart from that Ferguson irritates the heck of me. Man City well !, until Eastlands became Middle Eastlands they reminded me of Newcastle, lots of fans and a big stadium watching a side that would never reach the giddy heights that are dreamed of.

    So it was Bolton and I purchased a season ticket for two seansons, it was great, Big Sams gang of players on loans, freebies and the odd big spend, but players full of class and character. Football a bit raw but a couple of seasons in Europe and we could and did give anyone a game at the Reebok. Plus the atmosphere was fun, large numbers of families and long standing fans. Even the crowds songs were tongue in cheek and often self mocking.

    The Big Sam went, Lee went and along came Megson, he was the sort of Gordon Brown of football managers, dull, boring, set in his ways, unelected and slowly taking the fun out of everything.

    Frankly Megson was a Championship manager, I say was because even that league has moved beyond him now. He directs the team towards playing defensive uninspiring football, which is a shame because he has players that if allowed to use their skills could be different.

    I have not purchased a season ticket this year and now pick and choose the games I go to, often on wanting to see the opposition more than shout for Bolton. Just like much of the country feels that with Brown in charge we are treading water till he goes in the spring, I feel like my support for Bolton is on hold until Megson is sent packing and a new dawn sees the fun come back.

  • Comment number 15.


    As a visiting supporter yesterday I was delighted how quickly Bolton fans turned on Megson ! It meant we were doing something right.

    I was absolutley gutted about the penalty as I honestly don't think Bolton would have scored without it.

    With regards to the debate around style of play my views are that I pay to see a team that is 100% committed to the cause, well organised and hopefully some skill and good football thrown in as well.

    Outside of the top 6 the premiership appears to be pretty level and if we can edge an advantage by making a partisan atmosphere at the Brit and make it a really tough place to visit then thats our duty as supporters.

    At Stoke we have a chairman, management team, players and supporters all pulling in the right direction, sometimes its not pretty but its a results based game.

    West Brom fans may wax lyrical about their 'brand' of football and how they wouldnt want Megson (or Pulis either I assume ?) but thats why they have Crystal Palace up next and we have Man Utd !

    On a completely seperate point I thought Mark Clattenberg was absolutely superb yesterday, he got all the big desicions spot on and generally was anonymous which in my opinion is always a sign of a good ref.

  • Comment number 16.

    While Sammy lee might have been awfully bad, that should be no excuse to consider Megson as a victim of our criticism.

    There are a lot of managers who have managed to keep their teams in Premier League. It doesn't make them outstanding. Look at Big Sam's ex-sidekick at Hull City. He has done a lot more than Megson ( take Hell City to premiership from nowhere and managed to keep them up with a little bit of luck) but he has had his due share of criticism.

    Megson took a squad that used to play for a place in top 7 and managed to keep it in the premiership. What's so great about it ?

    If someone takes over at Everton and manages to keep them in the Premiership after a bad start then will it mean that the guy is exceptional ? Megson has had enough opportunities in the past 10 years and he has failed to show any ability beyond pedestrian football. Moyes in his second season barely kept them up but since then has showed that he is an exceptional manger. With Megson everything seems to be predictable when it comes to the good part but extremely unpredictable about the bad parts. So one can be assured that Bolton would not break past the 50 points barrier but how low will they fall is hard to guess.

  • Comment number 17.

    The media just dont get it do they? Yesterday and not for the first time this season he started with just ONE attacker at home to a average but decent Stoke team.He had a 5 man defensive midfield lineup..Thats what riles the fans..his defensive attitude towards games we should be looking at winning.
    I have been a fan since the early seventies and there is no doubt I have never been more depressed about the state of the club than now and I recall relegation to the old fourth division.

    Megson is a PR disaster. He has nil affinity with the fans and even yesterday said he wasnt bothered about what they think..What are the people who pay his wages to make of this..tell me?

    As for when we had Big Sam..may I point out that Europe wasnt an exception to the rule..We qualified twice in 3 seasons and finished top eight 4 seasons in succession including a sixth finish when we only failed to qualify fo the Champions League on goal differance!

    These are not flashes in the pan!

    I accept Megson kept us up after Sammy Lee,s brief but attempt at management didnt work out..However neither myself nor other fans believe we can progress one jot with Megson,s tactics and negativity...

    The booing yesterday was directed more at Megson than the players..You can argue it doesnt help them it shook Megson into a change and second half was an improvement..

    You gentlemen of the media dont have to fork out your hard earned each week to be served with dull uninspiring football...Give us a break ..

  • Comment number 18.


    As an outsider looking at Bolton it does feel a bit like you are clinging onto the past about how great it was under Big Sam, top 7 etc. etc.

    Surely you can regonise that was over acheivement and it was an almost impossible act to follow ?

    It seems to me Megson kept you up (and will keep you up again). With the greatest respect you are Bolton - is bottom half of the prem about the correct level ?

    I do think football fans perhaps expect too much, I remember Charlton fans moaning about Curbishley for their mid table premiership finishes and how they needed to 'push on'.

    Be careful what you wish for !

  • Comment number 19.

    All we ask is that we have a team that has a go especially at home. Every man and his dog keep banging on about how dull the football is at the Reebok...so we need to do something about it and getting someone else in with a modicum of ambition and tactical nouse would be a start.The team itself is decent enough..

    Megson is the wrong man for the job.He has been at the club 2 years now and other than keep us up achieved nothing except to alienate the supporters.
    There is no doubt there is a chasm starting to open up between the club adn the supporters. Stoke brought 3000 to yesterdays game which means just 17000 bothered o turn up only to see another negative starting eleven picked by Megson..he had 3 attacking players on the bench!!

    I am sick of other people saying we should be grateful because he kept us up...

    Is that all we can expect from now on..staying in the league and nothing else..I wouldnt mind too much if we played decent football with a good go in the cups but we all know this isnt going to happen with Megson.

    Would supporters of other clubs like to have Megson....no I thought not...

  • Comment number 20.

    When supporting Bolton you have to be the eternal optomist, but, ever since Megson arrived on the scene my glass has been permanently 'half empty'. All those people that quote it's better to be watching this kind of dross in the premiership because it's like that every week in the championship cannot have the passion for the club as we, the fans do!

    There was a semblance of pride under Big Sam A, even when we didn't win. Because teams that faced us knew that to win they had to work bloody hard to get anything - nowadays this is not so.

    The team has no heart or passion in the displays, the midfield is always given up to the opposition (both home and away).

    It's well documented that he has a predilection for defensive strategies on the training grounds; which is only to be expected from his playing background. However, most of our cock ups thus far have come from this area. Proving he is just not up to the task.

    The manager should never be allowed give any press briefings until he has been schooled in how to conduct himself in an interview for he has all too often alienated the fare paying fans with some ill timed comments; not all fans are morons calling for his head, but all fans can have an opinion that's the way of the world. He constantly promotes the opposition status and publicly puts down his own players and fans.

    I am a season ticket holder and have been a fan of over 50 years standing, I do not boo and I always encourage the team. However, I personally believe we are going through one of the worst phases of our clubs' history and expect the downward spiral to continue as long as chairman and current manager hold office.

    Give us back our pride and 'our' teaam.

  • Comment number 21.

    Megson has gradually alienated the fans over his 2 years in charge. He has done this by producing the worst football i have ever seen, and i have watched bolton for 30 years so thats saying something. Allardyce produced teams that competed, attacked and played as though they thought they could win - no matter who they were playing. Allardyce had NO MONEY - Megson has squandered money on a lightweight striker and a team of defensive midfielders. I don't even care if he buys an attacking player because we wont see them on the pitch anyhow. Ask Smolarek.

    Phil - if the fans had anything to get excited about, they would back their team. We have in the past and will in the future, but there is nothing at all to get excited about. Fans get excited by players dribbling past other players, maybe a one-two, a nice passing move - not by second rate midfielders lumping it 50 yards. There is nothing to suggest this team has a pattern of play.

    There are one or two decent players in this squad who im sure would be able to pass the ball, if the manager adopted tactics that would allow them to do it.

    Megson has at various points stated that the fans are idiots and he doesnt care what they think. By the way Phil - we had a chance of progressing in the UEFA Cup - i think 3000 fans went abroad to see it - and Megson served up the Youth Team and Reserves.

    So - you tell me Phil - do you still think hes done a great job?

  • Comment number 22.

    Bolton fans are as entitled to be entertained as much as any other fan and expect some ambition from thier club..With Megson we dont get either.

    Going to games is an expensive business and these are hard times financially..

    Megson is out of his depth as a premiership manager and other than a spell with WBA he has alienated and frustrated fans up and down the country..just ask Forest fans what they think of him!

    Its true the days of Big Sam hae gone but that doesnt mean we must put up with another season of dross courtesy of Megson.

  • Comment number 23.

    Reading between the lines, I dont think anyone at Bolton disputes that Megson has done a "good job" in keeping Bolton alive in the PL.

    Especially given the limited budget.

    The problem is the manner in which he has done that.

    Playing defensive football at home, to clubs they hope to beat.

    Look at Stoke. They have a small budget and are hardly Brazil (in terms of playing style) - but they manage to enthuse their crowd and vice versa.

    You get the impression that Pulis is all for Stoke. And so Stoke is all for Pulis.

    By contrast, you just dont get the impression that Megson is all for Bolton or that Bolton is all for him.








  • Comment number 24.

    When Megson came I did not understand why some people would not give him the benefit of the doubt? Sure I was opposed to his appointment (Fabio Capello was a free agent at the time as was the special one) but once on board, I felt it was my duty to get behind him. I know some fans never even ceded him this much.
    I have been a loyal season ticket holder, and travelled to 3rd division away games as well as the European glamour ties, Bayern, Sporting etc.
    However this season I decided not to renew my season ticket as I was sick of the depressing lack of ambition in starting with a lone striker at home even against weaker opposition. We turn in some half decent performances, Liverpool at home, Portsmouth away, and yet can't even have a go at Stoke at home, and produce the most excruciating football to wath 90% of the time. Add to that the problem of player behaviour in the Premier League, spolit impetuos brats, and I am glad I am not paying through the nose anymore, for utter, utter, garbage.
    Furthermore in all his time here every transfer window has been dominated by talk of us desperately needing a creative midfielder. And four transfer windows have past, including two long summer ones, and whilst we can sign Paul Robinson to replace J Lloyd - our most consistent player last season, we are not addressing the main weaknesses that are now long standing.
    I don't expect European football and the media are unfair to think we're behaving spoilt, fact is in a recession when money is really tight I have finally snapped at being asled to financially support Megson's brand of football (KD ploughing a lowly furrow up front) words like, turgid, liefeless, dull, uninspiring, are all one's you can usually describe a Bolton home match with.
    At dinner held at the Reebok not too long ago for the Lifeline members, one player who will remain nameless summed it upto me when he said in all seriousness, "the manager simply doesn't want to play attacking football"
    As a journalist would you prefer to be sent to cover an exciting league one match, between two teams playing an open attacking style, or would you prefer an assignment at the Reebok to watch a turgid affair between Bolton and another one of the lesser lights? Now ask yourself would you pay for that priviledge? No neither will many of us.
    I hope in the Carling Cup Tues with West Ham, we play at team featuring exciting players like Riga, Gardner, play Vaz Te up front with Elmander, and play some quick attacking football, who cares about the result, lets remind ourselves how to play.

  • Comment number 25.

    What is so wrong with Megson!?
    He saved us from relegation and he's brought good players in!
    I think the problem is the fans! If we don't get behind the team we are never going to get good results!
    OK I agree that Megson never plays a strong 4-4-2 and seems to go for a nervous 5-4-1 or an unusual 4-4-2 but we need to support our team!
    Give Megson a break!

  • Comment number 26.

    Bolton fans deserve relegation. Huge echoes of Charlton and their fans smugness belief that they somehow deserved more.

    Allardyce left an ageing bunch of mercenary players, creating a squad that needed huge and immediate revamping. Lee failed to do it, trying to avoid the serious clear-out and the confrontations that would lead to with players & fans. Megson came in and did the dirty work that needed to be done to transform a terrible side hurtling towards relegation to a team now populated by a number of young decent English players with a real future. Plus, Megson was forced to sell the best players - Nolan, Anelka and Diouf - to be able to afford to build a proper squad.

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm amazed by the view of some people on here!

    Firstly, why is it regarded that top eight finishes were down to exceptional circumstances! May I ask you to remember who qualified for the UEFA Cup last year, Fulham! A team with a smaller transfer budget and stadium, however, due to very good management and free signings they achieved top eight! Every 'small' club can compete for that eighth spot with the right guidance! Guidance were lacking under Gary Megson!

    All Bolton fans were grateful he kept us up, no question about it, however, after his first full season improvement was slight finishing with 41 points, a points total that has relegated teams in the past! His transfers were hit and miss too, with astute signings of Cahill, Taylor and Steinsson. Whilst money was floundered on Elmander, Shittu, Robinson, Ricketts, Knight and various loan signings he never gave more than 5 minutes!

    Gary Megson has spent more than any other Bolton manager yet he has alot less on paper than some previous managers! I remember some great nights at the Reebok, yet, none of them under Megson! People who say Sam Allardyce played similar football are way off the mark. We had entertainers on the pitch such as Mendy, Okocha and Vaz Te to name a few. We had passion from Campo, Stelios, Bobic and so on plus we had real quality throughout the pitch! Currently we have a couple with passion and quality, yet their quality is untapped due to ultra defensive tactics!

    Bolton fans are not alone in his criticism, with the following players criticising him: Riga, Steinsson, Elmander, Smolarek and academy players leaving due to Megson, supporters of the club! Gary Megson has no rapore with the fans due to his self indulgent answers, a man who takes credit for Boltons best UEFA Cup finish even though he never qualified for Europe and then tried his best to get us knocked out with his reserve team policy! Gary Megson is a man who continually calls the fans that pay his wages, with his latest comment yesterday stating he doesn't care what the fans think!

    So, I'm sorry Bolton fans have some ambition and want to be entertained! I mean aren't they the two things all football fans have and want from their club?

  • Comment number 28.

    Honestly, I think the Bolton fans have got no choice but to back Megson. He's obviously got the players respect, which is impressive considering all the vitriol around the Reebok at the moment. His footballs not great, but he'll keep Bolton up and that should be enough for a club that is at its base, much smaller than teams like Leeds and Newcastle who are suffering from an over inflated sense of superiority. Stoke, Bolton et al should be happy just to get a chance to upset the soulless elite who dominate this league, we're not going to get plaudits for good football and London journalists will continue to watch one game and sum us up in one sloppy slight. But, as a stoke fan, Im proud to be a supporter, of the team, of the manager, and of the players who want to be there. Megson is committed and a genuine football man, his footballs crap but he's buying to stay up like the rest of us, if the footballs crap just shout louder, you'll feel much better.

  • Comment number 29.

    I think the problem is that too many people, such as Phil McNulty, and fans of other premiership clubs will maybe see Bolton twice a season, and then use that as a basis to state Bolton fans are ungrateful and expecting more than we deserve.

    First of all, I think Gary Megson has been absolutely fantastic in the transfer market, arguably better than Allardyce. Allardyce brought in fantastic talent towards the end of their careers, getting a couple of seasons out of the likes of Djorkaeff, Campo, Heirro etc. But Allardyce never brought in the young quality that Megson has. Matt Taylor, Gary Cahill, Mark Davies have all been fantastic signings. The issue that Bolton fans have is that, despite these players, Bolton are playing dreadful football.

    Phil McNulty, you would have noticed the added vigour that the introduction of Ricardo Gardner brought to the Bolton team in the second half. Now, I, as have many Bolton fans, have been watching Ricardo Gardner put in performances like that year after year at the Reebok, which begs the question, why was he left on the bench for the first half when Gretar Steinsson was playing out of position on the right wing? Which leads me to my next point. Gretar Steinsson was one of the clubs most consistent performers last season and quickly made himself a fans favourite. Which begs the question, why has he been relegated to the bench to be replaced by Ricketts; a player with half the amount of talent and half the amount of drive, whose lack of motivation and dedication was evident when his woeful and effortless defending allowed Kitson through to slip a finish past Jussi.

    A lot of people seem to think that unwaevering support is a pre-requisite of a new manager. While the Stoke faithful were incredibly vocal in their support yesterday, even the most romantic football fan would find it difficult to believe their support would stay that way is Pulis opted to play James Beattie at left back, Abdoulaye Faye as a centre forward and Rory Delap in goal.

    I have appreciation for the players that Megson has bought into the club, but at the moment they are not producing anywhere near the quality that they should be. That can either be blamed on Gary Megson or the fans, but it is a lot easier to replace one manager than 20,000 fans.

  • Comment number 30.

    @ Phil Mc Numpty

    I'll bet you £100 that Bolton will get relegated if Megson isn't sacked after the next three matches!

  • Comment number 31.

    Basically Phil, using a simple table, I'll show you why Bolton fans boo so readily and so quickly. And bare in mind, this isn't a rare occurance, this is every single week, regardless of opposition.

    Jussi - GK
    Cahill - CB
    Knight - CB
    Ricketts - FB
    Samuel - FB
    Steinsson - FB
    Taylor - FB
    Muamba - DM
    McCann - DM
    Cohen - DM
    Davies - ST

    So thats a 6-3-1 formation we played yesterday, with an extremely defensively minded "3".

    Meanwhile, Stoke were playing Kitson and Fuller up front, Matty Ethrington as a very attacking winger, with Whelan always managing to get himself in a dangerous shooting position.

    Now if you had to guess, which would be the team which have been an established Premiership side for years, playing at home, and which is the team which is only in its second season in the Premiership, playing away?

  • Comment number 32.

    Third Ronaldo is way off mark..and the likes of Okocha,Hierro and Youri were not mercenarys..They were a delight to watch and admire...

    We are not smug..we just want better than Megson can give us. We have had him 2 years and 4 transfer windows and he has been found wanting.

    I could put up with his attitude if he could deliver on the pitch but he cant. After the City game ladst season and the Sunderland game this which we both lost without a wimper he actually stated in the media that it didnt matter that we had lost and in the case of the City match actually had the nerve to say we would have got a result ad played better had it mattered!!!

    Well Gary it matters to us fans who fork out money to watch what you call football.

  • Comment number 33.

    Most people writing here are from outside the club,and can see that with success, comes expectation, the comparison with Charlton is very worring.Speaking as a long time supporter of Bolton,I hope the boo boys see the error of their ways before it is to late.

  • Comment number 34.

    What I am impressed with is the reasoned and detailed responses to what some Bolton fans clearly believes is the criticism I have made of them.

    It was easy to detect the source of the dissent yesterday. The fans were unhappy with the basic style of play - but what did surprise me was how early the criticism started.

    I should say I have never, as one poster said, claimed Megson has done a "great" job. But has he done a bad one?

    You do get the impression that the relationship between Megson and a section of Bolton's support has broken down irretrievably. He appears to be able to work in this environment, but my other point is that it obviously makes the players nervous and edgy.

    Can Megson ever win over his critics? If so, how?

  • Comment number 35.

    It's not about expectations, it's about seeing improvements. Over the years, Big Sam cut the Bolton cloth to the money we had - negative football where necessary, with increasing quality being brought in as we kept improving season-on-season, until eventually we were genuine contenders for playing in Europe, and even in Sam's last season - until a massive loss of form - challengers for 4th spot.

    We see nothing of that with Megson. We're not even running to stand still, we're actively going backwards. Even a slight improvement, one that said mid-season safety mediocrity for this season, would be a pointer that we're moving in the right direction. But no, not even that.

    It was always going to be difficult to replace Allardyce - Sammy Lee's attempt at attacking football displayed that you really can't do that on a budget and expect to get points - and Megson isn't up to it.

    I really can't see us surviving, currently only Portsmouth are a worse team than us. Points-wise, we'll be lucky to be in double figures for the New Year.

  • Comment number 36.

    Norwich City - Sacked Megson!
    Blackpool - Left after failing to get into playoffs!
    Stockport - Sacked Megson!
    Stoke - Sacked Megson!
    WBA - Sacked Megson!
    Forest - Resigned due to fans hatred!
    Leicester - Left with Leicester fans chanting beforehand, 'Megson to Bolton'!


  • Comment number 37.

    Bolton, your a Premiership team, enjoy the league your in under whatever circemstances you find yourselves in. That, or you deserve the same fate as Charlton, and West Ham (a few years ago) by having a few seasons in the lower leagues.. leaving you able to develop some perspective.

    Grumbling about details when your a Premiership team is horrid state to find yourselves in, many fans of 'lesser' teams lower down the football ladder will gladly swop places with you, and happily adore the football you get to watch each week, simply based on the fact that their team would be in the promised land, as opposed to the cash-threatened lower leagues.

    If you cannot back your manager, back your team. Your 'negative' fans are a much bigger issue than your 'negative' manager.

  • Comment number 38.

    Well, football fans everywhere react to what they see on the pitch. What we saw yesterday in the 1st half was the worst Bolton display I've seen since the dark days of Phil Neal, hence the reaction. I'd spent a fair amount of time in Fanzone talking about Meggo and how the negativity was there even before he got the job, and how he was (still is) fighting a losing battle, since there was a percieved lack of ambition around the club. Then the team was announced and the looks of dismay on all the faces were plain to see.

    No one can argue that when Gardner (especially) was introduced, the atmosphere changed and the fans were behind the team from the kick off in the 2nd half, even when we were behind.

    I know he was just back from injury, but he's one of the few players we have with pace and skill in abundance. He should have played from the start, and when he got tired could then be substituted.

    Phil asks if Megson will ever win over his critics. It's a tall order, but a start would be to play like he wants to win, instead of avoiding losing, acknowledging when the fans are right to complain, and giving us the attacking football we were promised in the summer.

    I got my 1st season ticket when we were in the 4th division, but this season could well be my last.

  • Comment number 39.

    Phil, with respect, you saw one game. Would you feel the same after almost 2 years of stumping up the cash to watch that game every week?
    I'm disheartened to see the usual responses of 'we should be grateful to be in the Premier League'. I ask why? This is our 71st season of top flight football. That's something only 11 other clubs can better. And yet we 'belong' in the Championship? Why? I can only assume these people are quite young, as admittedly the 1980's were spent in the lower echelons of football, but that doesn't change the fact that we have a proud record of top flight football. That's something the Norwich's and Charlton's of the league certainly can't match, even though some may naively bunch Bolton in with those clubs.
    We do not ask for miracles. The football under Sam Allardyce was not always perfect, but at least it got results. Megson doesn't even have that as a defence. Last season we picked up just 1 point from the entire top 7. Can you imagine such a record a couple of years ago?
    Yesterdays game was a prime example of what is wrong with Gary Megson. We were playing Stoke at home, and with the greatest respect to Stoke, that is one game we should have targetted as a potential victory, just as Stoke fans would in the return game at their ground.
    Megson's team was setup as if he'd given up before the game even started. Three defensive midfielders who offered no creativity, one striker up front on his own, 40 yards from a teammate, the record signing on the bench along with two tricky wingers and an International striker. A braver manager would have had those players on the pitch from the start. But then that's Gary Megson, he is not a brave manager. Why risk attacking, where you leave yourselves exposed to the counter attack, when you can just sit back and play for a point. That may be fine away from home, but when we turn up at the Reebok, we expect to see a little more than our own team play like the away side.
    Perhaps Phil, you should visit the Reebok again in the very near future. Just don't be surprised when you see exactly the same display from Megson's Bolton again. Maybe even that wouldn't be enough to leave you understanding where we're coming from, but we got sick of it a long, long time ago.
    It is only a matter of time before the board of directors wake up to this fact.

  • Comment number 40.

    Nobody has mentioned yet the bizarre circumstances of Megson's hiring.

    At the start of 2007/08, Gary Megson was coaching at Stoke for free because he couldn't get a job. At the beginning of October he got a lifeline from Milan Mandaric at Leicester, and within a few weeks Phil Gartside was stumping up £300,000 to make him Bolton manager.

    Gartside reached for a manager with a marginal Premier League track-record when there were other candidates available who wanted the job, including a fresh-faced Owen Coyle. A lot of the fans were disappointed from the start because of the lack of ambition shown by the chairman (who was busy banking UEFA Cup cheques).

    This was a team that went from 7th and showing some pride on the pitch, to introverted, disorganised relegation-favourites. The club was in a great position to make a statement when Sammy Lee was moved out, and they did - just not the one the fans wanted.

    I'm not ungrateful or spoilt or whatever, just very disappointed.

  • Comment number 41.

    Dear Phil, THANK YOU for writing an article about Bolton - on BBC's website, no less - I can't believe it!

    There has truly never been a more depressing time to be a BWFC fan. As your blog is witness, the fans are deserting in their droves. Where was I yesterday afternoon? Shopping, that's where. I knew that I would have a better time doing that than at the Reebok, where I would have been grinding my teeth and howling in frustration. There is this perception that Megson has never been given a chance by the fans and it's fair up to a point, but the football he instructs his team to play is the worst in living memory. He simply doesn't believe in attacking play. It seems ironic now that Big Sam's style was harangued (by BBC's very own Alan Green for one) for being negative. There was attacking intent though, Jayjay Okocha, Djorkaeff, Campo and a young Kevin Nolan are all testament to this. The current stasis at Bolton is SO frustrating. Megson will never do enough to get the sack as Bolton have but one goal, to stay in the Premier League. I believe that he can and will achieve this, and when you achieve your target as an employee, you do not get sacked. I cast a jealous eye in the direction of Burnley (managed by BWFC legend, Owen Coyle) who, despite not having the big name players, are playing football of the highest order and bloodying noses along the way.
    It's not the prevailing attitude these days, even amongst BWFC, but I do NOT care which division we play in. Give me the Bruce Rioch team of the early nineties, playing in the 1st and 2nd Divisions, anyday. BWFC teams (historically) have always played with a little bit of guile, a touch of class. Megson and Gartside are killing my club. I admire the fans that are still handing over their hard-earned, but I won't be back until changes are made.

  • Comment number 42.

    Phil, you're completely missing the point.

    It's not only why are the fans are on Megson's back, but you have to question Megson's tactics so early in the season.

    Come on, playing 3 holding midfielders in a home game is like admitting defeat. Yes, your home ground should be a fortress a la Britannia but doesn't that entail that you should also be aiming to winning your home games?

    And playing behind the ball on home soil is hardly going to inspire confidence from the home fans, is it?

  • Comment number 43.

    The point I'm making is, are Bolton fans dreading the R word?...

  • Comment number 44.

    Hi Phil, I don't believe Gary Megson will ever win over the fans. His initial appointment surprised everyone in football, not just us supporters. I personally, after looking at his record as a manager and the views from other football supporters (including forest, norwich and some west brom fans), didn't inspire my confidence, but as a supporter you hope that you are wrong.It is coming up to two years now, and after being a season ticket holder since 1990 (using my student grant to pay for it), I didn't renew this year. When something you enjoy, love, NEED becomes turgid, unispiring and in the end, you think of reasons not to turn up anymore, you know something is wrong.
    Let me ask you a question Phil if I may.....When a manager criticises the supporters the club publically on three occaisions, season ticket holders drop dramatically after one full season in charge, and the number of fans calling for his increases daily, does he deserve any support?

    P.S. Credit to Stokies yesterday, and for the london press, they passed the ball pretty well

  • Comment number 45.

    Phil... firstly I am pleased to see that you have brought our predicament to a wider audience....

    We Bolton fans are not unrealistic in our ambitions for the club. We know we can never compete with the big boys but the fact is we are an ESTABLISHED Premiership club beng run as if newly promoted cannon fodder.

    We have a decent team but not a decent manager...

    Something has to give soon...yetserdays team selection and performance was par for the course under Megson and you saw for yourself the anger and frustrations of the fans. Yes know booing probably dosent help the team but what other way have we got to voice our anger at Megson and Phil Gartside?

    Megson has had hs chance and is not up to the task.Bolton isnt by nature a sacking club but we must when its required and its required now.

  • Comment number 46.

    @nickrush

    Anyone who watches Bolton week in, week out under Megson will tell you that supporting Burton Albion would be a much welcome proposition! I would never wish it upon any fan to watch Bolton under Megson and I'm sure those lower league fans would count themselves lucky they can actually watch some football!

  • Comment number 47.

    Phil,

    What I am impressed with is the reasoned and detailed responses to what some Bolton fans clearly believes is the criticism I have made of them.

    It was easy to detect the source of the dissent yesterday. The fans were unhappy with the basic style of play - but what did surprise me was how early the criticism started.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The criticism might have seemed a little early for you Phil but Bolton supporters have had to put up with this for two years now.

    Megson did a fantastic job in his first season to keep us up, the tactical approach was correct then given the perilous situation. To continue with this approach almost two years after he took over suggests he knows no other way. His signings this summer appear to be taking us backwards, he's done nothing to remedy the lack of movement and creativity in midfield. Bolton supporters arent naive enough to think that this type of ball player can be picked up on the cheap, but to squander our meagre resources on two full backs we didn't need was criminal. Tuncay was on the bench for Stoke today, when you factor in the wages he could have been picked up for a similar amount of money that Paul Robinson and Sam Ricketts are costing us. We had a promising winger on the bench. It's the same every week, creative players left out to accomodate more one dimensional destroyers. I for one would have been happy with a 13th placed finish if I was offered it at the beginning of last season, but we havent been able to win a raffle since April despite playing mainly against similarly placed clubs.

    I dont know who you follow Phil but I dont think you would tolereate this week after week. The national media's attitude towards the Bolton supporter's dissatisfaction has the distinctive whiff of 'Let the eat cake.'

  • Comment number 48.

    As an unbiased outsider, though I agree with the view that some Bolton fans don't seem able to accept that they over-achieved under Big Sam (even if it was over a period of a few years) and that battling to stay in the Premiership isn't perhaps beneath them, I do have a lot of sympathy with their displeasure at how things are going under Megson.

    For the vast majority of football fans out there, going to see your team is all about hope. You know you're never likely to see your team winning any silverware, but there is always the tiniest spark of hope that the team will turn it on and rout the opposition, or you'll be entertained by some good football, or you go along knowing your team might not be very good but there's a chance they'll knock in a few goals and get the odd win here and there.

    When you turn up to your home ground expecting to see a miserable, turgid performance with workman-like players set up defensively, and this happens week after week, it doesn't matter whether they are playing at the highest level or a local pub league, it is hugely depressing. And when it's not just a very small minority of fans who feel like that, it's time for the manager to go.

  • Comment number 49.

    As a West Brom fan, I will forever be grateful for what Megson did for this club. We were looking in a dreadful position, and between him and the two chairmen we've had, they turned the club from a joke club that had a blip in the 1960s and 70s back to a top Championship and occasional Premiership team.

    However, I wouldn't want Megson's brand of football back here, and to me it seems that Stoke are going to be the "Bolton" of the Premier League for the future.

    Megson will keep your club afloat, solvent and work within the budget the best he can, but maybe Bolton need to rebuild in the Championship akin to Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

    Can't possibly include ourselves in that though, we can't claim to have established ourselves!

  • Comment number 50.

    Is there one manager in the Premiership who is as unpopular with his fan base and plays a more negative style of football? Megson got booed in a pre-season friendly againast Hibernian - a testimonial match that finished nil-nil! I had more fun watching Bolton play Scarborough - what is Megson's ambition for Bolton? Megson needs to go.

    To win the crowd over, play to win; not to contain. The best performance in recent times was against Liverpool - more inspiration, more ambition and less negativity.

    We are a football team; not a commercial entity.

  • Comment number 51.

    Every manager has a shelf life and Megsons has certainly expired. He is without doubt the most uninspiring,negative,tactically inept manager around and personally I wouldnt have him in charge of the pub team from the Dog and Duck never mind a premiership club.

    The die is now caste and there is no way back for him after yesterday. To try and defend himself and have another pop at the fans is beyond the pale.

    Gartside must act now ....

  • Comment number 52.

    The next 6 league fixtures will spell the end of Megson's reign at Bolton, it's just a matter of how long Gartside holds his nerve.

    With the fan's pressure building every week, I suspect he will be gone after this run of very difficult upcoming games. Gone with a worse record/start to the season than Sammy Lee had when he took charge.

    Birmingham (a), Tottenham (h), Man Utd (a), Everton (h), Chelsea (h), Aston Villa (a)

  • Comment number 53.

    As a Newcastle fan, it's interesting to see the posts of Bolton fans on Megson. It all looks incredibly familiar, much like the things that were said by our fans when... Sam Allardyce was in charge of Newcastle.

    Seriously, you could almost transplant it word for word.

  • Comment number 54.

    hate to say it but along with portsmouth, bolton look doom to go down to the championship. after what allardyce have done to the club, its quite to sad really.

    but it could be good for them, put things into perspective somewhat to spend a season or two in the championship. get back to the basics some would say.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 55.

    I think your chairman has dropped the biggest clanger possible. He was the guy who reccomended Owen Coyle to Burnley. What he should have done was back his instinct and brough Coyle to the Reebok and punted Megson off to the clarets. Is Coyle still a Bolton lad at heart? Would he leave Burnley for Bolton?

  • Comment number 56.

    comment number 7
    who forces you to pay upwards of £30 you pay it from your own freewill knowing what type of football megson plays
    so if ur just gonna moan dont go watch simple isnt it

  • Comment number 57.

    What surprised me most was just how quickly the supporters turned on the team. Sure Bolton were very poor in a goal-less first half, but the booing began in the first ten minutes. Supporters pay the money and they can have their say, but on yesterdays evidence the club is only heading in one direction.
    Fair play to the Bolton Chairman though. After the game he spent a good half hour taking questions in the corporate lounge (not that it got him very far). To see Bolton fans asking him to give Megson the dreaded vote of confidence, shows how bad relations are at the club.

  • Comment number 58.

    If you're crying about Bolton how about you come down to Rochdale? 40 years and counting in the lowest division.

  • Comment number 59.

    As a long time supporter of Bolton (my husband's birthplace), each Saturday we await the announcement of an attacking side - each week we see one up front, 5 midfielders (mostly defensive) and another 4 defenders at the back. The result is normally disappointing to Bolton supporters. We need to play 4-4-2, we have the players who could achieve better results if we gave it a go.

    This team IS made up of some very good players and should be producing better, attacking performances. After all, what have they got to loose?? Not a great deal currently.

    So there's no real reason not to give it a GOOD SHOT! Kevin Davies needs forward thinking players to play off him - they need to rebuild their attacking style and confidence on the pitch. And Megson needs to practice what he preaches - give the team a chance to play the good quality football, of which they are capable.

    Only then, will the fans have something to cheer about!

  • Comment number 60.

    From what i've seen Bolton fans have had it in for Megson since he came.

    When they appointed him manager i expected them to flop and struggle to stay up but credit to Megson i think he did a good job last season with Bolton.

    From what i can see though, hardly any Bolton fan is willing to back him or give him a chance after last seasons performance and i think it's only a matter of time till he's out.

  • Comment number 61.

    As a strong supporter of one of Megson's former teams, I couldn't understand why you appointed him, he plays some of the most shocking football imaginable, but at least be glad you still have Kelvin Vaies as an attacker, when he was at the reds he was determined to play Gareth Taylor as a defender leaving us with absolutely nobody upfront.

    I still find it quite ironic that you appointed him afer he'd joined Leicester, given that he was hardly there two minutes, meaning you had to pay a substantial fee for soebody whom was on the scrap heap which he should still be on. Worst manager (along with Roy Kinnear) ever!!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Thanks for the article Phil. I agree it is nice to read something objective about our club in amongst the millions of words per day exhausted by the media on the colour of underpants worn by the managers of the Big 4 (or 6 or 7 or however many there are these days).

    As for the article itself I can see both sides of the debate. The club did over-achieve under Big Sam (in the league at least) and we are now having to live with the consequences. Megson realises that the squad is made up more of triers and battlers than flair players and so has reverted to a style of football where effort comes first and skill comes later. This is fine if the team can get on a roll, relax and play with confidence. Unfortunately, this happens all to rarely and when we are in, or just above the drop zone, confidence falls and our play reflects this.

    From my own perspective, I was a seaon ticket holder growing up in the town in the 80's when we fell to rock bottom. Our fortunes revieved almost as soon as I grew up and moved away and I do regret that I had to see the football of Stan Anderson and Phil Neal rather than Bruce Rioch and Allardyce. Many of the current supporters weren't around (either due to their age or for other reasons) when we had gates of 3-5,000 and faced the taunts of Chester fans singing "You're not famous any more". Those were the real hard times to be a Wanderer, not these current days.

    I do have some sympathy for Megson. He knows that to change the style of play too much would be a huge risk to our position in the league, to the finances of the club and not least to his own job security.

    If we could risk relegation, knowing that we could regroup, change the style and return to the Premier league renewed and financially solvent, then I think many older Wanderers fans, myself included, would take that chance. But the reality isn't like that. If we go down then we may not return for years or even (like last time) a generation. With the finances of the game meaning that overseas investment is attracted to big city clubs and the more prosperous areas of the country, the odds are stacked against clubs like ours.

    Ultimately, that is why Megson will always play this way. If the fans force him out or the Board get cold feet we may see a new man at the helm, but don't expect to see champagne football at the Reebok until we're back in the top half of the table. I just hope it comes soon for the sake of the club and the fans alike.

  • Comment number 63.

    As a previous employee of Bolton Wanderers, yet an Aston Villa fan, I hope my opinion can be seen as relatively unbiased yet, informed.
    In the Allardyce era, a team was forged from hard-work, efficiency with the correct balance of flair and inspiration. Allardyce instilled the first two into the team, making them hard to beat. The second two, he maximised his character and one-to-one management skills to attract the players he needed for this to work (the Djorkaeffs, Okocha's and Bobic's). Megson simply does not have the charisma as a person to attract these players, and when his teams play dull, inexpansive, and downright horrible football to watch, its no surprise him and his team gets booed.
    As a non-fan who still looks out for the results, it disappoints me that after a relatively successfull era in the clubs history (inc. a league cup final and a decent (compared to Villa's this season) European run) the chairman chose not to build on this and replace him with a manager whose record in the Premier League was never going to instill confidence with the fans.
    I for one, hopes Gartside see's sense, dumps the manager, keeps faith with his undoubtely talented players and brings in someone who will ignite the fans imaginations and can bring some entertainment back to the Reebok stadium.

    Good luck Bolton

  • Comment number 64.

    The guy is so negative in all aspects, fans want entertainment.
    Football is away of leaving your stress and humdrum just for a few hours,getting your fix for the passion thrills and a feeling of belonging.

    sadly we have a manager that lacks all of that. to him it's a job he's a journeyman with out soul.

  • Comment number 65.

    I think Phil, all the information you need to as and why Bolton fans boo Gary Megson is above. Months have gone by as we fans wonder how no pundits have not picked up megsons failings as a manager. All his failings as a manager have been brought up, his jekal and hyde transfers, his unbelievably illogical team choices, the fact that attacking players are brought in and then left to rot on the bench. The fact is, that this season is exactly the same as last season, the same weaknesses in our players, the formation and lack of ambition going forward at home. This is why we boo him. New season same old problems, a premier league manager cannot let this happen. We haven't won at home since april, the win at portsmouth was the first win in 10 games, could you as a fan not be unbelievably frustrated by this and then be told the manager does not care what you think. We bolton fans dont ask for much. Beat a big four team once every two seasons maybe, we dont expect cup runs, a few passes strung together and players who give everything and we will support. When magson gave us this he was hailed as the ginger mourinho but now I dont know what to think.

  • Comment number 66.

    It's true that some had it in for Megson from day 1. It's also true that in the leap from 5,000 fans to 18,000 fans, as we went from the 4th Division to the Premiership, we gained a vocal minority of fans with unreasonable expectations.
    Megson did a good job in keeping us up, but he has not built on that success. The majority of the hardcore fans recognise his achievments and his limitations and do not want to see the fantastic progress we have made thrown away.
    Two comments made by Megson stand out.
    1) Every week I explain to the players how I want them to play, but it doesn't translate to their play on the pitch.
    2) (After Denilson came for a trial) He is a quality player with skill, touch and vision. He doesn't fit in with the Bolton way of playing.
    Gartside needs to act promptly and decisively. But only when we have the right man for the job.

  • Comment number 67.

    All these fans of other premiership teams who are attempting to insult wanderers fans for a lack of support clearly do not understand what we have to endure on a regular basis. Not one player in the Bolton first team has the ability to excite the crowd. Megson signs players with a bit of flair but then refuses to play them. examples of this are Riga and the recently signed lee chung yong. Lee in particular seems to have at least some pace and ability on the ball yet Megson has released a statement saying he wont be ready for first team football for a while. At points in the game against Stoke the lack of ability on the pitch was almost to painful to bear. Whilst agree that Megson should leave the club, leaving the club now could be disastrous and leave us in an even more precarious position than we are already in. Big Sam had a special charisma about him this is something Megson does not have. MEGSON OUT!

  • Comment number 68.

    (A Bolton fan of over 25 years) I can understand Gary Megson's choices to a point because I think, quite rightly, he is fearful of failure and has resorted to his basic instincts. Unfortunatly, these instincts are wrong and the message this sends to the players is that the manager doesn't trust them to out get a result, underminning the little confidence they had in the first place. To line-up like that at home on Saturday was embarassing to say the least and only fuels the confidence of teams yet to play at the Reebok.

  • Comment number 69.

    Well for Megson's future, what people think ought to happen is pretty irrelevant now. The Board picked him, the fans have never liked him, it seems unlikely that they will not be out of the bottom third of the table under him even if they are to survive.
    Some think Bolton just need to be in this division. Others think they just want to watch some football where some of the entertainment comes from their own team.
    It's likely that if Bolton don't finish at the top of the bottom third of the division, the Board will get rid anyway. Or they'll decide they have to listn to the fans and get a bright new manager who will be a gamble. In either case he goes. In the meantime maybe they reckon they've got him cheap. Megson - they obviously said to themselves, what you see is what you get. Which still may be - relegated.

  • Comment number 70.

    As a Baggies fan I would just like to say I would have rather had Gary Megson in charge last season than Tony Mowbray! For all the pretty tippy tappy football we played which was sooo pleasing on the eye (ha ha), it didn't get the results that GM would have ground out and defended for our lives. The result would have been he would have kept us up and that's the difference Bolton - do you want to play nice pleasing footie or stay in the league?

  • Comment number 71.

    Sadly I work Saturdays and don't get to so many games anymore, was really looking forward to going to see them play the Hammers tomorrow night, but I've given up after seeing what I did on the TV at the weekend. It's dross Mr Megson dross.

  • Comment number 72.

    Stoke with Pulis are starting to become a "Charlton under Curbishley" sort of club, a solid group of players who are well drilled, tenacious and team-focussed.

    Just hope that when the slump comes (as it always does at every club), the top-brass do keep faith with Pulis' ability to keep them in the Premiership.

  • Comment number 73.

    There won't be anyone left to boo Megson if he continues with his soul destroying tactics.

    One man up front against Stoke is laughable.

    I used to turn up at 'Fortress Reebok' actually expecting us to beat the likes of Arsenal, Man U etc.

    Nowadays I struggle to distinguish which games are winnable.

    The attendances are falling ridiculously (only strong away followings from Sunderland, Liverpool and Stoke have kept the attendance over 20,000).

    I just can't understand why the chairman retains his faith in a guy who promised to purchase more attacking minded players and instead blew the vast majority of his budget on defenders.

  • Comment number 74.

    im a man united fan. bolton were a great club under big sam were every team feared going to the reebok. but a burning question to me which absolutely bewilders me everytime i see the bolton squad is....how does nicky hunt not exist anymore?? i have watched bolton loads of times, he was a england under 21 international and has defensive displays and distrubution were top drawer. i then watched him at birmingham were he was brillaint....so what does megson say to his chirman when he demands 4 million off him for stienson (who is terrible) then spends 2 million on ricketts who is worse!!! he then gets rid of nolan who might of had a bad year but is the heart beat of the club then begs him to go back on loan!!! the guy hasn't got a clue. can someone understand why he brought in two right backs and left hunt out....?????? fall out maybe??

  • Comment number 75.

    Phil,

    I think the comments so far have given you some flavour of how a large portion of the club's fans feel. I won't re-iterate them, although I do share them to an extent. Instead I will attempt to answer your question -

    "Can Megson ever win over his critics? If so, how?"

    The short answer to this is 'by doing everything differently' - Megson at Bolton is a textbook case in how to alienate a team's supporters. I can sum it up in a few ways

    1) Engage with the supporters. Thinking he doesn't care what they think and doesn't care if they go home happy may be a good survival mechanism for a premiership manager but it's not wise to say so in public. A more conciliatory approach would help - although this is one part where it may be beyond the point where it would undo the damage done

    2) Be positive. This is true in many parts. Firstly, his tactics on the pitch are uniformly negative and over-cautious. Playing two defensive midfielders against a top four club we would understand, playing two against Stoke is frankly unnecessary and counter productive. That and the fact he has seemed to fall out with most of our creative players and basically doesn't seem to trust anyone who isn't a hard-tackling workaholic. Off the pitch, it would also go a long way to repairing our relationship with him. We won away at Portsmouth and all he could say was 'our defending was shocking'. We got a point back against Stoke with a better second half display and he made no comment on it, simply saying we were still bad. His pre-match comments are almost always about how good the opposition are and he never convinces us he believes we will get a decent result. Is it at all surprising the fans are feeling down, if all the manager ever does is talk negatively?

    The relationship between a manager and the supporters is not unlike a marriage. If you were in such a marriage and all your partner ever did was criticize and was always negative and dismissive, would you not eventually start thinking about a divorce? After a couple of years?

    3) Give the fans a reason to cheer. Even the fans on here who have expressed their dissatisfaction WANT to support their club. We don't like Wanderers failing, we don't enjoy appearing like this. It's like washing your dirty linen in public. If Gary Megson (and it is largely his fault I'm afraid, even if some of the players have under performed) changed things just a little bit, gave the fans just something to raise some energy over, I believe they would. They are just worn down by a thoroughly dour and joy-free atmosphere round the club, both on and off the pitch. You only had to see the fans reaction to Ricardo Gardner coming on on Saturday to realise this - the fans saw him as a chance for something that wasn't as grim as cold porridge and they reacted accordingly.

    Fundamentally, all Gary Megson has to do to win over a lot of Bolton fans is to do the things I'd expect my manager in my job to do and probably you would too. Be positive, engage with those around you, take the lead and look like you're heading toward better things. If he started doing those things most of the Bolton fans would soon be on his side. While he continues to do the opposite of those things, more and more Bolton fans will become disillusioned and resentful of his presence.

  • Comment number 76.

    Phil,
    A fairly fair assessment but you've fallen into the same trap as others who don't watch the wanderers closely and just judge us on still being in the prem. And
    It's excruciating to watch, you'd change your tune if you had to pay to watch this anti-football every week.
    I was one of those unhappy from the beginning- but I knew his track record, so you're wrong to say that is unfair.
    And you are wrong for making out that it's to do with expectations. Unless of course, you mean we expect to see three passes strung together once in a while.

  • Comment number 77.

    To the question 'can Megson ever win over his critics?'. I agree with all those contributors who said 'no'.

    The reason I say this is that that he does not seem to have any intention of making any of the changes that might make Bolton's tactics more positive and more attractive for the fans to watch. To his mind the fans do not count - only the dressing room!

    It's fair to say that the fans' perception of him, even with current tactics, would be better if we were getting 0-0 draws or 1-0 wins but despite playing a team of defenders the opposition always score. So we have to score to get any result which is difficult with only one attacker and the rest on the 18 yard box. The current tactics are not only boring to watch but, more impotantly, they do not work.

    I note that the BWFC spin doctors have been at work getting players to say how much the booing and jeering is not helping. I'm sure they have a point but surely they can see the fans' point of view as well that they deserve something in return for the hard earned money that they shell out to watch a football match.

    Then again I have some sympathy for the players - its hard to perform positively when you have an inferiority complex and that is Garry Megson's biggest crime. He has successfully ensured that Bolton are frightened of every team they play. Why else do you set the team up with so many defenders and a shape that mainly occupies your owm half. What is that saying to your players except 'I don't think you are good enough to beat this lot so we will try to stop them scoring' Game after game this must be happening so its bound to have an effect on the players' self-belief.

    So in my view I cannot see him changing and I only see things getting worse.

    Its time for a change!

  • Comment number 78.

    It wouldn't take a lot - all he'd have to do would to regularly play an attacking midfielder and a winger. Will he do it? Never - he'd cut off bits of his anatomy before he'd give up his fear football and this is why he'll never win over the vast majority of his critics.

  • Comment number 79.

    Megson is destroying our club. This is fact. He will have a worse record than Lee, and will have taken longer to sack. He signed defenders when we need a striker and desperately need some flair and pace. He spent our big money on a unproven striker, Elmander, who has failed to deliver goods, and will not drop him. Same with Muamba.

    Megson plays a brand of dour, negative football; this is the reason we want him gone. We are used to losing some matches, and winning some, but we don't want to pay to watch dross performances from the dross tactics of Gary Mugson.

    All this talk of; "you should be grateful" and "he saved you from the drop", is frankly rubbish. Megson could only have done better than Lee when he joined, and Bolton had a decent enough squad to survive, I'm pretty sure I could have kept them up.

    Bolton are NOT better off with Megson, and we are very grateful for the way he kept us up; but his honeymoon period ended two seasons ago. We need Megson out, a decent manager with some tactical nouse and a backbone to come into the fray, settle the players and get us back to where we belong, beating the top 4 and watching their managers cry about the physicality, the weather, the position of the earth in the greater cosmos, anything but admit they were outplayed by lowly Bolton.

    COME ON YOU WHITE MEN, MEGSON OUT.

  • Comment number 80.

    To quote

    " Bolton's fans are not enamoured by a primitive playing style, but it appears expectations have been raised to unattainable levels by Sam Allardyce guiding the club into Europe. This was the exception not a rule.

    Megson has worked to consolidate Bolton's position in the Premier League, but there was an inescapable air of permanent dissatisfaction around The Reebok - although even the most patient would have been tested by a first 45 minutes that flouted its label as entertainment."

    .............I would point out that the average attendance at the Reebok stadium since Gary Megson took over has been artficially skewed by a policy of increasing the allocation of tickets to visiting supporters . This masks the marked decline in Bolton supporters attending matches by circa 7000 from typically 23,000 in average crowds of 25,000 3 seasons ago to about 16,000 this season.

    The club are not financially dependant on "turnstile fodder " at the Reebok( AKA "supporters" at other more enlightened clubs ), for that is how we are perceived. Whether anyone bothers to turn up is of little consequence , as in the great scheme of television money, 7000 fans missing makes little difference .

    Maintaining premier league status is everything - nothing else matters.

    The style of football played to achieve that objective is also irrelevant. The directors of Bolton Wanderers would happily abandon football altogether and use the Reebok as a secure environment in which to grow genetically modified crops if they could be guaranteed the TV revenue.

    Under Big Sam , European football was the culmination of 15 years of moving forward. The likes of Bruce Rioch and to a lesser extent Colin Todd had laid the foundations , and you had a club that, whilst the going was good, was at ease with itself . Not all went favourably - there was the heartache of successive premiership relegations , of two league cup final appearances - but this helped enhance the bond between supporters players and manager - we were all in it together .
    It culminated one night in Marseilles,that UEFA Cup defeat was the beginning of the end .. in our hearts we knew it was over. It was only a matter of time before big sam left.

    That success had masked the move from Burnden park in Bolton to a soulless place called the Reebok ( almost in Wigan , and only in Bolton after some deft adjustments to local boundaries ) , a stadium whose front 3 (?) rows of seats were never installed because the club generated more revenue from double rows of advertising hoardings.

    That move to the Reebok was the furthest relocation of any stadium to date in English football, and as more and more of us now reject the Megson style and the directors "premiership at all costs" model , we start to look at neighbours Bury whose Gigg lane ground plays host to a club called FC United ,started by a group of similarly disillusssioned supporters ,and we look at the likes of AFC Wimbledon, and we start to dream of taking football back to the supporters of Bolton.








  • Comment number 81.

    Phil,
    Why does it seem outside Point of Views protray it as Megson doing Bolton a favour by keeping us up?

    The team is well and truely Megson's now after 4 transfer windows. The player to make the difference at his introduction (Ricky G) however, was a pre Megson player. Strange that.

    I echo all the Bolton fans when they respond to your questions with another, "would you want Megson in charge of your club?"

    And are we under a dictatorship when we HAVE to love someone that treats us so cruely?

  • Comment number 82.

    Nobody has mentioned the real reasons why Bolton fans had it in for him at the start:

    1) He wasn't by any way qualified or had been in anyway associated with success of recent times - in fact all his other jobs other than West Brom were seen as failures. There were many many better candidates.

    2) He wasn't the first choice, Steve Bruce was but Bolton would not pay the £3m asking price (which Wigan did) and Bolton fans would certainly have been happier with Steve Bruce. But this lack of ambition showed to the Bolton fans where the club is heading.

    3) The biggest issue is that it all seemed a little cosy between the Chairman and the man tasked with finding BWFC a new manager - Mark Curtis. Greame Souness was the whistle blower on this when he pulled out of the running to become the Bolton Manager at his interview because he knew that Mark Curtis was Gary Megson's agent - or at least represented him for the deal with Leicester months earlier. Souness is quoted within the press on this. It seemed very fishy to Bolton fans that a man who hadn't managed at a decent level for years and who had been working for free was handed 2 jobs in a few months and given a £2.1m contract.

    4) When Gary Megson finally unveiled the chairman referred to Bolton fans as "fickle" and that people who "knew about football" would understand this appointment.

    Fans don't forget this kind of treatment and even though I gave him time to make his own team and see what happened I decided that after 18 years of successive season tickets purchases I would not buy one this year. I will not return until a new manager and chairman have been installed. We never hear anything from Mr Gartside, does he still even exist? He seems to enjoy his position on the board of the Premier League that he's forgotten what our football club is about. In my opinion the owner of the club (who has been extremely good to us, and we appreciate that) needs to have a clear out and install someone who can merge the Bolton support once again. I saw fighting on our own terraces last year betweens fans because of Megson. I had never seen it before. Bolton Wanderers used to be a community or tightly knit fans and now it's been destroyed by people who 'know football'. Yeah right.

    Most Bolton fans I know don't care what league we play in, we just want to be entertained and if we don't play well - at least give 100%. But we want to see our team try to win as opposed to try to stop the opposition from winning.

  • Comment number 83.

    in reply to 12 by phil m. facts you want. did you research megsons win % ( they're on wikipedia ) . ?

    megson 27.7% win %

    he's now even worse than paul ince- 28.5% he managed at blackburn.

    big sam in his time at bl'burn is on 37.5% even taking into account his slow start to this season..and he's not had mega resources to spend. in his better yr's at bolton big sam had a 40+% .


    and owen coyle has won 3 of 6 games in prem, so obv a win % of 50%..with a vastly inferior squad.


    steve bruce ( when at wigan ) got 33.8 %..so signif better again with a club with similar/and possibly less resources.


    people in media say megson's appt was'nt popular at the reebok with surprise. he'd absol no track record of keeping prem lge clubs up at that time.

    phil, you also say he kept us up in his 1st season ? wow considering he inherited a squad that had finished in the top 8 for 4 consec seasons.

    bolton fans are'nt stupid...we saw the methods used by big sam. & how he got players with creativity..like okocha, diouf, stelios, campo, djorkaeff.
    or pace..e.g. anelka... to win games. so it's bound to be frustrating seeing this guy .
    stoke on sat'day played 4-4-2 with fuller and kitson up front ( nb fuller has pace ! you don't need millions to get pace. )
    and they also have skill in tuncay.

    there's no pace or creativity in the bolton side.. our front 3 in the 4-5-1 ( 4-3-3 )
    were matt taylor good player but no pace, k davies, and steinsson who played r/back last season..again no pace.




  • Comment number 84.

    Phil..basically we have had enough of Megson and his attitude..We deserve something much better....The man has had 2 years and has been found seriously wanting..he isnt good enugh and we all know it...

  • Comment number 85.

    ALL BOLTON FANS, TODAYS BLOG IS NATIONWIDE AT LAST, IT'S ON THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER ON-LINE WEB SITE, ADD YOUR COMMENTS AS SO FAR IT'S A LOAD OF NONSENSE WHAT IS BEING POSTED ON THERE.

  • Comment number 86.

    Phil, Felt that having been to the West Ham game and given that it's gone quiet on this blog, you might be interested in my view after an entertaining and positive 3-1 victory. I went because it was a cup game and in the hope that we would go for it. We didn't quite go all out, but 8,000 fans including the excellent West Ham following were thoroughly entertained. I would renew my season ticket if I believed we would see that type of football more regularly, rather than when it's safe to do so.

    We are desperately lacking a creative central midfielder. We showed last night that we have attacking players, but still sorely miss the link-up that was a feature of Big Sam's reign. Sam varied the play and not only could we play direct, but could also play through the midfield.

    I do not trust that Megson will play that positively in the league. We go to Birmingham on Saturday and I hope that I am proved wrong. Let's see a similar brand of positive football and just maybe Mr Megson will start to win some support. Lee must start, if only because of the obvious understanding he built with Davies, collecting the numerous knock-downs and driving on with pace and balance - why is it that our other strikers have not been encouraged/ coached to do this. Bring Steinson back in for Ricketts - he adds another dimension which we are missing. Don't play McCann and Muamba in the same role. Let Muamba hold, cover and break-up play - let McCann use the ball; OK he will miss a few passes but its that inventivenss he nervously shows that we crave. Listen to Elmander and play to his obvious strengths rather than deprive him of the simple service that made him worth £9M - he is a quality player being destroyed by the Megson system.

    As for last night - it was a bit like those fantastic days at Burnden Park when we took the nation by storm and scored the best goal as underdogs against Liverpool in the Carling Cup Final.

    Discussion during and after the game on the "terraces" was about Curbishley and other possible candidates - there was no booing - there was even a cheer to gee on the players when we went 1-nil down. My son loved it. But afterwards, the consensus remained - Megson has had his chance. He told us he would play a different way - it's been the rare exception.

    We want a club we can be passionate about, week in week out, win, lose or draw - not a club destined for 30 seconds on MOTD and one that our children are embarrassed to support when compared with the likes of Preston, Blackpool, Wigan and the upcoming AFC Fylde. I will not pay to watch "safe" football aimed at keeping an established club in the Premiership. I will pay to watch a club that still believes in the dreams of giant-killing, Wembley, Europe, the Champions League, or promotion from the Championship. Players will love to play for that club. Fans will go home dreaming of what could have been rather than ranting about a manager who didn't even try for 1st place.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 88.

    Megson was brought in to keep us up when Sammy Lee probably couldn't. He did a fantastic job, however, we need someone to push us forward now and not just help us just stay afloat. We have a good squad with at least 6 top players. Tactics are negative and the players seem scared to push forward. We cant play another season defending all the time.

 

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