Of course, it’s the old cliché but following last night’s defeat to Accrington our sole focus for the remainder of the season is the league competition and to tackle as Keith Hill describes “The Impossible Task.”
Rewinding back to the start of the season, with a twelve point penalty in hand, a coach of Wanderers players made the trip down to Wycombe – with one former striker refusing to board as they departed BL6. Stories that Phil Parkinson and his staff had been stuck waiting at a motorway service station were flying round Twitter and no one truly knew who would be stepping out to play against Gareth Ainsworth’s side come 3pm on the Saturday. At that point, the majority of Wanderers fans’ ambitions was to still have a club come the end of the season.
Following plenty of heavy defeats and that one heroic 0-0 draw with Coventry, we found ourselves with new owners; a new management team and 12 new players. Along with this, we had an injection of belief amongst the fanbase. Perhaps getting ahead of ourselves at times, but isn’t that what football is all about, the belief that you can achieve the impossible? The performances and results started to become positive. Those first few home games after the takeover, we were unrecognisable. It was a breath of much needed fresh air. The optimism kicked in, we said we’d be happy to have a club by the end of the season, but now some fans are almost expecting to avoid relegation.
A few poor results, poor performances or maybe it was just a 7-1 thrashing that killed off some of the ever-growing optimists amongst us. But why does that have to be the case?
Now to get to the point of this atrociously titled article, but I’m a George Michael fan so deal with it.
We have a small squad – one of the smallest in the league, if not in English football. The injury curse has meant we have realistically had between 12 and 14 senior players at Hill’s disposal for the majority of his time here thus far. Unwanted cup competition has, more often than not, been a hinderance more than a help. A terrible injury to Ali Crawford in the final moments of the game against Manchester City U21s has ruled him out for months. Regardless of who you are, an injury to your most creative player is going to affect you, especially when the other senior players who can fill in his position are also all out injured.
We can argue until we’re blue in the face whether we should or shouldn’t avoid relegation this season, there is also still the small matter of the EFL appeal against the suspended points deduction to come to an end. What really matters is that we give it a bloody good go from now until the end of the season. There are 28 games to be played between now and 3rdMay. No more, certainly no less. (We hope)
Twenty eight games, each one just as important as the other. There are no distractions away and our sole focus now remains with getting the most out of each game. No meaningless games that could potentially injure a player or knock confidence during winning form.
A win last night would have added another fixture to what is currently a six game month in January, coming off the back of a very busy Christmas period. Granted, there may be a little room for some additions in the New Year, but the likelihood will be that these are the squad numbers we’ll be stuck with till the summer, at the very least. I didn’t go to the game tonight, I have only heard second hand how we performed, as poor as it may have been. As Keith Hill said in his post-match interview, “It’s a game in isolation, forget about it now, we lost and we’ll learn from it.”
I couldn’t agree more. After his comments last week about forgetting about the 7-1 result, I couldn’t agree with that at all. But this is different, we lost in a cup competition that none of us really cared about. Yes, it might have been nice to go on a little cup run. We’ll just go and win the whole damn thing next season instead.
*Side note – I genuinely thought KH’s interview after the game was the best he has done since he came to the club. No weird metaphors or tales about his wife, just an honest assessment of the game, the club and the wider football world.
We want to give everything to fight to stay in the division. We don’t need any form of distraction away from those 28 games. We need all those players fit and fighting for the purpose, there is no need to have the risk of injuries other than in those important fixtures we have ahead. So if we’re going to do this whole great escape thing, we’re going to need to do it right.
One focus, one club.
We’re on Keith’s rollercoaster that is Bolton Wanderers FC and it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
Was the defeat last night better for Wanderers in the long run?
This poll is closed
Yes - the league should be the only focus.
No - the cup would have done some good.