Friday, June 9, 2023

Humiliation harsh on Bolton and Owen Coyle

Desperate times

There is a great deal to admire about the club, the team and the manager at Bolton Wanderers, and most people in football were very happy to see them qualify for the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley. They went into the game as favourites, playing against a Stoke side five places and five points behind them in the Premier League. What transpired on Sunday could not have been predicted and would not have been wished upon them by their worst enemy.


The total capitulation of the team at the hands of a fired up and impressive Stoke outfit was unimagineable in the depths to which they fell on the day.

Bolton found themselves three goals down inside half an hour. The defecit was deserved and they were defending like rank amatures. It got even worse in the second half when one of their former players, John Walters, added two more to make the final score a humiliating 5-0. Stoke are hardly a team who are famed for their ability to keep possession, yet they had 57% of the ball. They had thirteen attempts on goal to Bolton’s eight and thoroughly deserved their easy victory.

Bolton’s players and management were left shocked and embarrassed. Their fans could not believe that such an exciting day out had turned into a total nightmare.


Captain Kevin Davies used twitter to apologise to the Bolton fans after the game.

“I am so sorry to all of you who came to support us and paid a lot of money. I am deeply upset and lost for words. Deserve the criticism. We are all devastated and very emotional. It is very difficult. It was a horrible experience, the manner of the defeat. The first goal was like something from five-a-side rather than an occasion like this. To see the goals going in, I don’t know what to say. It was just one of those days. We will try and put it right. It is just a terrible dream at the minute. We feel sorry for the supporters as they paid a lot of money to come down. We’ve had a lot of plaudits this year and we will take the criticism and stand up as men.”

Later on, Davies, who has now lost both the FA Cup semi-finals he has played in, reflected on his own chances of Cup glory.

“The FA Cup is something I have always dreamed of winning. Was hoping this would be a day to remember. Now it is a day I will never forget.”


Bolton manager Owen Coyle could not explain his side’s performance, but admitted that his players let themselves down badly.

“We haven’t performed anywhere near what we are capable of. That is the hurtful thing and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. We gifted the goals and we capitulated. If we offered that every week we wouldn’t be in the Premier League. We’ve given a very poor performance today. I’m hurting just now. It’s hard to take. All credit to Stoke. We’ll look to pick ourselves up and lick our wounds. They are wounds, make no mistake.”

It is difficult to see how Owen Coyle will be able to pick himself up, let alone his players, after such an abject and humiliating performance, but you do get the feeling that if anyone can do it, Coyle might be the man. He has done a magnificent job to transform Bolton from relegation threatened long ball merchants into a team in eighth place in the league who play some good football.

I’m sure there will be better days ahead for Coyle, these players and the Bolton fans, but they must be pretty hard to see for them right now.


Graham Fisher



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