What a day, what a night, what a feeling! Bolton Wanderers managed to draw 2-2 in the Allianz Arena against the mighty Bayern Munich. How did that happen? A team of waifs and strays, led by the unpopular Gary Megson, took the lead before eventually pegging back the Germans in their own back yard. Unbelievable.
So, what can we glean from the occasion?
Bolton Wanderers Belong on the European Stage
We may well have gone 2-1 down at one point, but the fightback was fantastic to see.
The spirit in the team, led by captain Kevin Davies, was inspiring and at no point did their collective heads drop. I love this club.
So far this European campaign we’ve drawn with SC Braga of Portugal and away to Bayern, surely this points to the strength of our squad - where worries have existed at the end of the Sam Allardyce era and at the start of the Sammy Lee/Gary Megson days, you can’t help but be impressed with the quality that we possess.
Is Gary Megson the Right Man for Bolton?
The protests that took place before the Braga game were nothing short of embarrassing for the fanbase.
We have never been the most patient group alive, but to demand the manager be removed before he’s even sat in the dugout is a new low for us.
Let’s face it, whilst Megson isn’t the man that we would have collectively liked to be the new manager, he’s here now and there is nothing we can do about it.
The team chosen against Bayern was hideously under-strength, but they somehow managed to eke out a fantastic performance against one of the greatest clubs in world football history. Does this mean that the players have pushed themselves beyond the sort of level that anyone thought possible, or has the manager had such an impact that belief is now through the roof?
Time will tell.
Kevin Davies - Captain, Leader, Legend
I love this guy.
He led from the front, battering their famous defence from start to finish, giving Brazilian centre half Lucio and Belgian captain Daniel van Buyten a torrid evening.
The commitment that he showed was just beyond words, and he deserved the resounding ovation that he earned from supporters at full time.
I am so pleased that he was the person who struck home the famous equaliser. The man is my own personal Jesus Christ.
Strength in Depth
Wanderers lined up with a much-changed XI:
Bolton: Ali Al Habsi, Andy O'Brien, Gerald Cid, Lubomir Michalik, Ricardo Gardner, Mikael Alonso (Stelios Giannakopoulos 56), Kevin Nolan, Danny Guthrie, Gavin McCann, Daniel Braaten (Andranik Teymourian 77), Kevin Davies. Subs Not Used: Ian Walker, Gary Speed, Zoltan Harsanyi, James Sinclair, Rob Sissons.
You would look at the above and think that perhaps Gardner, Nolan and Davies would be first-choice. The rest are firmly in the ‘backup’ category, but they pulled together and were, collectively, superb.
It points well to the rest of the season and what has so far shaped up to be our first battle against relegation for many a year will hopefully turn out to be a false alarm. If they play in the way they did against Bayern then the sky is truly the limit.
What a Goalkeeper!
When word reached us at the Paulanerkeller that Jussi Jaaskelainen had been spotted sight-seeing around Munich, and had told a Bolton fan that he wasn’t playing, our collective arses hit the floor and a stunned silence descended upon our table.
Obviously we knew that sub keeper Ali Al Habsi was an international with Oman, but who the hell are Oman?
Christ I was nervous, but I was completely wrong. He may well have conceded twice, but Al Habsi was imperious, keeping out Miroslav Klose, Franck Ribery and Lukas Podolski on numerous occasions, including one point-blank save from Podolski that is probably the best I’ve ever seen, live.
Whether Jussi comes back or not is another matter, but either way I am happy in our choice of reserve goalkeeper because Ali was sensational.