Playing on a Monday evening and having seen the results from our rivals who played at the weekend can be both advantageous and disadvantageous.
But looking at Saturday’s results, which were mainly favourable to us, there is no doubt that a win against West Brom on Monday evening would be a great boost to our Sky Bet Championship prospects. If everyone gets behind the team from the outset to help us achieve the result we need, it might just be the springboard we need for the second half of the season.
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As previously stated I sincerely hope the planned protests being driven by a small minority on social media, some fans’ forums and the local media do not take place as I believe they could be a distraction to the team and won’t help the cause. Hopefully, the small minority taking part will see the negativity this protest will bring to the club and decide there are better ways to achieve their aims and at this time it would be far more beneficial to send positive messages to the players and management and get behind the team.
I would like to congratulate our under 18s for their fantastic victory away at Crystal Palace in the FA Youth Cup on Friday evening.
Under Jimmy Phillips and all his staff, the whole Academy structure has made huge progress and indeed they are a credit to the club.
I was therefore surprised to hear some of the comments denigrating our Academy at BBC Radio Manchester’s Fans’ Forum last week.
In particular, John McGinlay, who was on the panel, criticised the Academy for not having any identity or scouting representation at the Bolton, Bury and District Football League. I have been told that this surprises our staff at the Academy who told me that over the past three seasons they had recruited a total of 64 new players of which 33 came from the BBDFL. They have seven scouts which cover the BBDFL on a regular basis.
The success of the under 18s and under 23s in recent seasons is well documented and I am confident that the success will continue. It was only last season that the Academy was ranked the most productive in the EFL and second out of all 92 clubs in England and Wales.
I will of course allow you to make your own minds up about how our Academy is performing but I believe the facts speak for themselves.
It goes without saying that we wish Nick Spooner, his staff and all the under 18s our very best for their Fifth Round tie against Leicester City on home soil.
Going back to the Fans’ Forum, I am told around 50 people attended which equates to around 0.5% of our average support. As well as there being a lot of criticism directed at myself, there was also plenty towards the manager which I found to be most unfair and won’t help the cause to retain Championship status.
I noted Maggie Tetlow’s comments on behalf of the Supporters’ Trust about not receiving any response from the EFL or the Club and that’s probably because they are usually asking for confidential information, but I would say that we have always made it clear to them we welcome investment and have set out the process they or a contact of the Supporters’ Trust would need to follow to enter into negotiations.
I do not have a problem whatsoever with the ‘experts’ present being critical of me, but I will always stand by and defend the players, manager and staff where I think the criticism is unreasonable and not justified. It’s clear for everyone to see the players are fully behind the manager and give their all in every game, so for John McGinlay to say they need to roll up their sleeves and go down with a bit of pride is not warranted and certainly not acceptable. Not only did Phil have extensive experience as a player, but he has also been a manager for well over 500 games and is highly thought of in the game. With all due respect to John, his experience of being a manager doesn’t even come close.
I acknowledge that John was a great player for the club and quite rightly considered a legend but I believe that this doesn’t constitute justification for some of the contentious comments he has made recently. I have no problem with freedom of speech as long as it’s factual and accurate.
I accept and appreciate his passion and love for the club but I would therefore question the logic of his comments.
Consequently, I did not think it was appropriate for someone who has been referred to as leading the protest and critical of virtually everything currently happening at the club to be involved with commentary on Monday night’s game.
I was also surprised to read the comments issued by Radio Manchester on Friday when they referenced ‘unbiased reporting’. I have to ask how can this be the case in view of John’s recent comments?
The Bolton News reported that the club’s decision to prevent John from attending the press area on Monday night was an unprecedented step. Well, I can certainly think of two examples involving Chelsea legends Ron Harris and Peter Osgood who were prevented from entering Stamford Bridge during Ken Bates’ tenure as Chairman and I understand that there are many more examples at other clubs.
Hopefully, we can bring an end to all this negativity and focus on football matters as we embark on an important run of games. The only thing that matters and is important at this time is to stick together and get behind the team and management to give us the best chance of retaining Championship status. My involvement is irrelevant and everyone’s focus needs to be on getting behind the team. After all, we know that the club is bigger than any one person and will still be here long after I have been and gone, and rightfully so.