With Bolton's penultimate game of the season looming on the horizon, a final foyer away from the Macron Stadium all the way down to high flyers AFC Bournemouth, I chatted to Cherries fan Peter Charles about the fixture:
1) Eddie Howe recently claimed that he thinks there is a conspiracy with referees against his club, in particularly against Callum Wilson. Is that a bit of an exaggeration or?
To a degree. I wouldn't say there's a conspiracy against him, there isn't, but now he's won so many penalties, referees do seem to be more hesitant than before to give a decision in his favour. Granted, his reputation probably precedes him, however justified that is, and I don't agree with Eddie's comments, but I can see his angle.
2) Last year Bournemouth finished 10th, what's changed this season to make you title contenders?
Not as much as one might expect. The main difference has probably been Callum Wilson, who's been a superb signing, and the addition of Boruc also, but I think a lot of it boils down to self-belief, and I think we've built on the back end of last season, where we saw we could beat most, if not all the teams in this league on our day.
3) There is a certain narrative in the media that Bournemouth are underdogs in this title race, but you reportedly pay Kenwyne Jones £30K a week. Do you subscribe to the narrative too?
Again, I can see this one from both sides. We're certainly not the skint club we were just a few years ago, and for a club of our size, we've spent a lot. Relatively however, there's probably a few clubs up there who have spent more than us, and our net transfer spent is surprisingly low (when you factor in the Lallana money) - our best player, Arter, cost £4,000! So I'd say the media's portrayal is probably exaggerated, but not fully without basis.
4) How exactly have Bournemouth gone from lower league minnows to the verge of Premier League football?
Mainly Eddie. Obviously we wouldn't be here without the owner, Maxim Demin's money, and that's a substantial factor, but Eddie had an incredible success rate with us before the money came in, and we struggled for the period he was away, and we had the money. So whilst it's undeniably played a big role, you can't look beyond Howe as the main reason.
5) Eddie Howe is obviously a promising young manager, but is he really the football league manager of the decade?
Howe was picked up from managing our kids' teams, and told that he had to save us from the drop, despite the -17 points, or the club would fold. Not only did he do that, he got us promoted the following season despite a transfer embargo, he took us to 4th in League One the next season before leaving. When he came back, he got us from the drop zone to the automatic promotion spots, and then to our highest ever position the next season, and now on the verge of our first ever season in the top flight. All in six years. I think he's got a strong case...*
*I may be a bit biased, sorry!
6) No, you do make a compelling case. What type of game can Bolton expect on Monday night?
A lot of it will be dependent on the results from Saturday, and the fixture change really doesn't benefit us, in terms of the added pressure. But whilst we've not been playing well recently, it was only the Wednesday game that we didn't get away with it, so to speak, so that may knock us back into gear. Well I hope it will, at any rate!
7) Obviously you suffered quite a devastating set back against Sheffield Wednesday and I imagine the pressure is going to be at an untold level on Monday, will Bournemouth be able to handle it?
Honestly, I don't know. I think we can, and we've got the added benefit that relatively, as frustrating as blowing it would be, this has been an unprecedented season, which might just work in our favour, but at the same time, this is massive. I really can't stick my neck out either way on that.
8) What will you do when you drop points against a team who have been, for the most part, awful away from home all season?
I'm so used to us bottling these types of games, I'll probably not be overly upset, sorry!
9) Which player will cause Bolton the most trouble?
Harry Arter, if he's on song. When he is, he utterly dictates the game in the middle of the park, and it's been noticeable when he's not played what a massive part of the team he really is. He's also got a fearsome left peg on him.
10) I've heard that Steve Cook is quite highly rated, how good is he?
He's a very good player, but he's made a lot of mistakes this season, some of them costly as well. He does do his fair share at the back however, and going forward, when required. I'd like to see him given a chance to start with, if we go up, but how well he'd do is another matter entirely.
11) If you do reach the Premier League, how do you think you'll fare there?
I think we'll come straight back down, although I doubt it'd be the embarrassment some are predicting. The bottom half or so of the Premiership is distinctly average at best, and there's clubs down there I'd more than fancy us to pick points up against. Whether that'd be enough is a different story, but I don't see it.
12) I could actually see you staying up. Which, if any, Bolton player concerns you in anticipation of the game?
Adam Le Fondre. ALWAYS scores against us. Always.
13) Well that is certainly pleasing to hear. Finally, what's your score prediction?
I'm going to be cautiously optimistic, and say 1-0 to Bolton...
That was the ever optimistic Peter Charles, offering some insight on Monday's opponents, here's hoping the score is exactly what he predicts. You can follow Peter on Twitter @peter27afcb.