BOLTON have had a great season, but such is the relentless level of expectation in football, some of their fans may well end the year a little disappointed.
The town was delighted when its team, flying in the league under the shrewd and well-respected management of Owen Coyle, reached the FA Cup semi-final.
But a 5-0 thumping at the hands of Stoke, and defeats in each of the last three games, has left the supporters a tad glum.
They really shouldn’t be.
Coyle has transformed a club that had been struggling badly under Gary Megson, never really recovering from the departure of the hugely successful Sam Allardyce in April 2007.
Coyle has put it back on track, and whatever happens against Blackpool tomorrow, or in the final game at home to Manchester City a week on Sunday, it has been a fine campaign.
That said, it has certainly been a struggle of late – successive defeats to Fulham, Blackburn and Sunderland.
After getting beaten by Sunderland on Saturday –courtesy of a last-minute strike from Sulley Muntari – Coyle was a frustrated man.
“We had clear-cut chances to get in front before half time but we never took them and truth be told we felt aggrieved to come in 1-0 down,” he said.
“We had more chances in the second half, again gilt-edged chances, to get the equaliser and then chances to win it.
“They defended with their lives and worked their socks off.
“We could have won two or three games with the chances we had, but then get caught by a sucker punch.
“Not to get three points from this game is very disappointing.”
Bolton’s main threat is up front, where Daniel Sturridge has been banging in the goals since his loan move from Chelsea.
The 21-year-old has scored seven goals in nine starts, and will partner the battering ram that is Kevin Davies up front.
Johan Elmander is top scorer with 10 goals, but he has been playing in a deeper central midfield role of late.
Gary Cahill and Zat Knight are strong at the back, while keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen is an experienced campaigner.
Bolton have major problems in midfield, their best two players out. Stuart Holden was injured after a shocker of a tackle from Manchester United’s Jonny Evans in March.
And the energetic Mark Davies – who scored a last minute equaliser in Bolton’s 2-2 draw with Pool at the Reebok earlier in the season – turned his ankle in March and is still out.
Bolton: (from) Jaaskelainen, Knight, Cahill, Wheater, Robinson, Steinsson, Cohen, Muamba, Taylor, Lee, K Davies, Elmander, Bogdan, Moreno, Petrov, Blake, Klasnic, Sturridge, Gardner