This is the moment. There will be so much to play for when Bolton take the field against Blackpool this Saturday. And this is not in a figurative sense. Bolton literally have millions of pounds on the line. Frankly, this is unusual in football. In American sports like basketball or baseball, as well as individual sports such as tennis or golf, competitors routinely face do or die situations. One shot at glory or shame. One moment in time.
Footy in England is usually not like this. Titles and league positions are often decided on a random Saturday a few weeks before the end of the season. If Cardiff didn't clinch the title on Tuesday, they would have done so on Saturday. And if not, the next Saturday. Manchester United were literally going to have seven matches to win three points. We just don't have many must-win scenarios. And when we say we do, we end up looking like idiots. Go back to February, I dare you. Go ahead and read all of the articles and posts about the "must-win" matches that Bolton lost. They are all over the internet. Yet here we are.
Blackpool sit fifteenth in the table, on 58 points. They are four points clear of the relegation zone, and only assured survival last week. Bolton are, of course, sixth. Unfortunately, two of the players who played a substantial role in getting the club to that position will not be available. So, where does that leave the Trotters?
The defense will be critical Saturday. Craig Dawson has been a rock at the back for the past three months. He is gone though, because West Brom (inexplicably) feel that he will be better served sitting on their sub's bench. David Wheater, despite his setbacks, appears to be fit and will likely partner Zat Knight. Jay Spearing has done a good job shielding the back four for parts of the season, but he is still injured at this point. His chances of appearing in the playoffs (should we qualify) are unclear. I'm not worried there though. Medo Kamara and Darren Pratley have been very good in his place. Not to mention the return to fitness of Josh Vela and Stu Holden. I still believe Holden will play a large role in whether or not we get promoted.
That said, I am not counting on a clean sheet Saturday, even though Bolton's defense has been very good at the Reebok recently. Goals are needed. And the same front three we saw last weekend is likely to feature again. Chris Eagles, Marvin Sordell, and Chung-Yong Lee are Bolton's three biggest threats. If a goal is scored, one of them will almost certainly have a role in it.
This is the moment. Bolton win, and they are (almost) in. Lose, and they are out. That's it. Sometimes life is that simple.