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Five Things: Bolton Wanderers 3 v 1 Wigan Athletic

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Loving this current form - especially when we batter the Pies

Gareth Copley

Neil Lennon has blown a tornado through Bolton Wanderers, bringing in a new hope with infectious passion and a desire for exciting, attacking football.

All those qualities were on display in abundance on Friday night in front of the Sky Sports cameras as Lennon's side absolutely thrashed a woeful Wigan Athletic by three goals to one.

The scoreline flattered the visitors who came in pathetic numbers for what they often call their 'derby' but is akin to Wanderers playing the Dog & Duck. Not much of a rivalry when they bring barely 2,000 for a game which is a five minute drive away.

Small club mentality I suppose.

So let's have a look at five talking points from the win:

1) Max Clayton - A Real Prospect

Dougie Freedman's transfer record whilst Bolton Wanderers boss was sketchy at best. For every good signing there often would be a couple of bad ones. For every Lukas Jutkiewicz there is a Joe Mason, for every Jay Spearing there is a Jay Spearing.

However, in order to give the dour, unemployed and unemployable Scot some credit it appears that in Max Clayton he has found someone with real potential.

Picked up from Crewe, where he was out of contract, for a mere £300k, Clayton arrived with little fanfare - Freedman himself saying to the Bolton Evening News that:

I just think it's a wonderful buy for the football club. Hand on heart, I don't know whether he'll help us right now.

Inspirational words Dougie, nice one.

Neil Lennon however has selected Clayton in every single squad that he has named thus far (I haven't checked but it sounds right) giving the lad his debut and showing real faith in him to start the game against Wigan on Friday.

Clayton replaced the suspended Darren Pratley on the left side of the Wanderers midfield, although clearly given more of a remit to attack. He began the game somewhat nervously and struggled against the experience of former Newcastle United right back and Wigan captain James Perch.

However as the second half wore on Clayton became integral to the Bolton gameplan and he scored a wonderful goal following a world-class through ball from the again-impressive Chung Yong Lee. He showed great composure to slot the ball home through the legs of dodgy keeper Scott Carson to put the White one up. It was a superb fun and finish from the lad.

He showed great desire, hunger and spirit giving the Wigan backline a torrid time with his intelligent play which really bodes well for the future. I think he deserves to keep his place in the team and look forward to seeing him develop over time.

2) Matt Mills - Captain Fantastic

What can you say about Matt Mills? Often derided and with, reportedly, one foot out of the door a year ago, he has turned his Bolton career round and is now, along with Mark Davies and Chung Yong Lee, one of the first names on the team sheet.

He has taken the captaincy from the dropped Jay Spearing (don't believe this PR spin about injuries - Spearing has been dropped and I understand that Lennon is NOT impressed with the former Liverpool midfielder) and is wearing the famous armband with pride.

He is a 'lead by example' captain in the mould of captains of days gone by. We have had a couple of disappointing captains lately in the form of Spearing and Nolan, but Mills is the sort of captain that we need. He heads every ball, clears every cross and has no qualms about shoving teammates out of the way to make sure that he does his job - to see him brush aside Dorian Dervite in order to clear his lines was a great sight to behold.

I would make sure that Mills is 1) given a new contract and 2) kept as captain going forward. He was imperious against Wigan - it was a superb performance and one that is entirely in keeping with his form this season so far.

He needs to get rid of that beard though, looks well scruffy.

3) Transfer Window Approaches - We Need Fullbacks

I like Tim Ream - I also like Josh Vela.

What unites the two is that neither is a fullback.

We have fullbacks on our books, but in Kevin McNaughton, Oscar Threlkeld, Marc Tierney and Dean Moxey we have nobody seemingly capable of making the role their own, hence the drafting in of Ream, a centre half, and Vela, a combative central midfielder.

Both struggled last night and I think that the area Neil Lennon should look to improving is that of fullback. Ream always has problems against pace and his natural inclination as a central defender is to push in and cover the middle which can leave Wanderers overloaded when attacks come down his wing.

Vela did his best again, and for the large part he had the best of the Wigan attack, but he must have breathed a sigh of relief when Wigan boss Uwe Rosler in his infinite shithouse wisdom chose to move the dangerous McManaman onto the opposite wing where he was far less of a threat.

At Celtic, Lennon had a good track record in finding fullbacks and turning them into quality players. The Honduran Emilio Izaguirre is a good example and perhaps points to the manager's ability in judging a player - I suspect he will need to call upon those talents in January.

4) Lee Chung Yong is Lee Chung Yong Again!

I haven't seen this sort of instant transformation since mid-1990's World Wrestling Federation female wrestler 'Chyna' underwent extensive cosmetic surgery turning her from butch bodybuilder to slightly less butch bodybuilder.

She would go on to make her name in a series of ball-busting matches with the Road Dogg Jesse James before ending her career in ignomy, 'starring' in a series of blue movies with X-Pac. I am reliably informed that they are absolutely minging and that you should under no circumstances give them a watch because they really are bad bad bad.

Anyway, Chungy dominated the game against Wigan - occupying space behind the striker and in the gap between defending midfielder and centre-halves that allows him to attack at will.

Lennon described Chungy as having 'taken his breath away' when he first saw him train - that's the sort of homoeroticism that I like in my football club. Chungy SHOULD be the best player in the division. I can't think of many more Championship footballers who have played in two World Cups.

The game also saw him score his second goal of the season and second since Lennon arrived with a beautifully struck penalty that put the game beyond the reach of local minnows Wigan.

He was too good for Wigan, and I wager he'll be too good for the rest of the divison as the season progresses. This causes us a headache though, as we know his contract is to expire at the end of the season.

It is therefore something of a reassurance to see friend of the site Marc Iles at the BEN report on how settled the player is at Bolton, and that money is not him primary concern. I'd put good money on the player renewing his contract with us should his form continue and should his love affair with Lenny maintain its present level.

5) The James McLean Poppy Debate

James McLean is Irish. Apparently he doesn't know whether he's from Northern Ireland or the Republic, but that's another matter.

His arrival on the field as a second-half substitute prompted mass debate (not that sort - you're still thinking about those blue movies aren't you) in the stands once it became apparent that McLean was the only player on the field without an embroidered poppy on his shirt.

The player has done this in the past, and in a letter to Wigan chairman Dave Whelan - presumably recovering in hospital from his broken leg - he explained his actions thusly:

Dear Mr Whelan

I wanted to write to you before talking about this face to face and explain my reasons for not wearing a poppy on my shirt for the game at Bolton.

I have complete respect for those who fought and died in both World Wars - many I know were Irish-born. I have been told that your own Grandfather Paddy Whelan, from Tipperary, was one of those.

I mourn their deaths like every other decent person and if the Poppy was a symbol only for the lost souls of World War I and II I would wear one.

I want to make that 100% clear .You must understand this.

But the Poppy is used to remember victims of other conflicts since 1945 and this is where the problem starts for me.

For people from the North of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different. Please understand, Mr Whelan, that when you come from Creggan like myself or the Bogside, Brandywell or the majority of places in Derry, every person still lives in the shadow of one of the darkest days in Ireland's history - even if like me you were born nearly 20 years after the event. It is just a part of who we are, ingrained into us from birth.

Mr Whelan, for me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles - and Bloody Sunday especially - as I have in the past been accused of disrespecting the victims of WWI and WWII.

It would be seen as an act of disrespect to those people; to my people.

I am not a war monger, or anti-British, or a terrorist or any of the accusations levelled at me in the past. I am a peaceful guy, I believe everyone should live side by side, whatever their religious or political beliefs which I respect and ask for people to respect mine in return. Since last year, I am a father and I want my daughter to grow up in a peaceful world, like any parent.

I am very proud of where I come from and I just cannot do something that I believe is wrong. In life, if you're a man you should stand up for what you believe in.

I know you may not agree with my feelings but I hope very much that you understand my reasons.

As the owner of the club I am proud to play for, I believe I owe both you and the club's supporters this explanation.

Yours sincerely,

James McClean

Firstly, having heard him speak on the telly, I find it impossible to believe that the above was penned by his own fair hand, but secondly, I think he's misguided and just a little bit wrong, despite his reasons being quite logical.

I fully respect the decision of anyone to wear or not to wear a poppy. The newsreader Jon Snow famously refuses to wear a poppy on air. Doesn't make him a bad person or any kind of 'enemy'.

However in McLean's case I think that by his actions he is disrespecting the Irish who died fighting for the freedoms that we all enjoy today. In the first World War over 50,000 Irish troops died in battle. Should he not honour their sacrifice?

He should perhaps remember that the poppy is a sign of respect to the men, women and children who died during wartime, and it is most definitely not, as he seems to think, an emblem of support of political decision making.

Personally I do choose to wear a poppy as an act of remembrance to those who fought to protect our freedom and democracy. Therefore in McLean's defence part of those same protected freedoms is the right to choose not to do something.

I find it interesting that Wigan's German manager chose to wear a poppy, thereby remembering the sacrifices of troops on both sides of conflict.

McLean took fearful stick from the Wanderers crowd for his choice. He didn't help himself with villainous behaviour on the field, including an off-the-ball challenge on Josh Vela that was worthy of a red card.

Though personally I just booed because he comes across on the pitch as being a massive prick.