Now Zat is more like it
WANDERERS are in the thick of the play-off chase but Zat Knight has loftier ambitions.
Dougie Freedman’s side head to Ipswich Town tomorrow in their best run of league form for seven years and sky-high confidence to boot.
A meteoric rise from 20th to eighth has been accomplished in the space of just nine games but the big defender is not content with just gatecrashing the top six.
With 27 points still up for grabs, Knight does not believe Whites fans should put a lid on their expectations with the defender even cheekily suggesting that automatic promotion is not beyond the realms of possibility.
“I’ve done a lot of interviews this season and maybe 10 weeks ago, when we were down at the bottom end of the table, the questions were all about staying in the league,” he told The Bolton News. “I never felt it was about that. As long as it is mathematically possible, you should still believe.
“We hadn’t had that run and now we’ve had five wins and three draws. It’s put us in a good position on a good run of form for the play-offs. You never know, clubs could start losing above us and second spot could still be on. Stranger things have happened.
“That’s a big reach and you only take one step at a time but I spoke to the manager this week and told him that the lads are excited. I personally don’t want the international break to come.
“I’d rather play Saturday-Tuesday because that’s the momentum you want as a player. You don’t want that to change. But the only thing for us right now is to go to Ipswich and get a result. Everything else takes care of itself.”
Were Wanderers to achieve the unlikely and finish with a maximum 81 points, Knight may be disappointed to learn that it would be enough to have gained a top-two spot in only one of the last eight seasons.
Play-off positions are usually secured with something between the 70-75 mark, meaning that Freedman’s side still have little margin for error to even start contemplating a return to Wembley in May.
But the team have not put together five straight wins since late 2006 – and Sam Allardyce’s class of 2005 were the last to string six together.
Knight insists the squad are in the right frame of mind to emulate their achievement.
After failing to live up to their early-season billing, the centre-half reckons Wanderers are a different proposition these days.
“People obviously made us favourites to go up and some expected us to walk the league, so maybe there has been a little bit of pressure,” he said. “But when you look at where we were 10 weeks ago why should we be under pressure now?
“I always felt we were so close to getting on that run. I think you have to be in the team or the squad to really feel that.
“From the outside looking in, you maybe look at the table and just think ‘we’re a million miles away’ but when you are training every day and picking up the vibe around the place, you know.
“We weren’t losing games by much at all. Look at Leeds – they didn’t have shot on goal all game until they scored, and they are the margins.
“If you didn’t go to the game you would have seen we lost again and given up. If you went to the game you’d know we should have had at least a point.
“One rash challenge, 1-0 and it was game over.
“Now we’re on this run, I look at the table and the fixtures left and think where we could get points here or there, they are little things.
“We are there or thereabouts now.
“And we’re in form. Everyone is hungry so we need to go to Ipswich with the same attitude we have been showing and get a result.”