THE first game of the season against Burnley was a complete and utter circus – but now it’s time to stop clowning around!

That day at Turf Moor seems a long time ago now, but it’s still fresh enough in my memory to remember how we were played off the park.

All the build-up had been about Owen Coyle returning, and carrying all that baggage into the game seemed to have a negative effect on the players. They just didn’t compete after the first 10 minutes.

It won’t be the same this weekend. There won’t be the same edge. But we absolutely must make sure we learn lessons from that performance and start the game right.

It is still a local derby and there will still be that special atmosphere around the place, but unlike that afternoon in August we need to be first with the tackle, first to every second ball. The players need to show the fans how much they care, because there are more than one or two doubters around right now.

Burnley are a decent side and they will move the ball around.

Charlie Austin is a goalscorer and gets a lot of the headlines but they are solid right through the team and we will have to play well to beat them, no question.

We won’t have all the unpleasantness we had when Owen was in charge. The atmosphere that day at Turf Moor was bordering on the nasty – but that’s football and you have to deal with it.

The players know the only way they can get people back on side is by earning results, and with a big crowd at the Reebok, there’s no time like the present.


WHEN things are going against your team, it’s the manager’s job to try and stay positive.

People might not agree with what you are saying but when the club is in a rut, you need to make sure that negativity doesn’t filter through to your players, and so I can understand a bit of where Dougie Freedman was coming from on Saturday at Watford.

He reckons performances are improving and that relegation won’t be an issue, and again, I agree to a certain extent.

It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look over our shoulder and recognise that we need to start putting something together, though.

A few of the clubs behind us are starting to string results together. And though our performances have been good on the whole – we certainly haven’t been horrible – you need that back-up of points being put on the board at the same time.

We’re still striving for those back-to-back wins and if we can get that done quickly, I still don’t think it’s too late to make a dash for the play-offs.

It has got to be done quickly. Plaudits are fine, tightening up the defence is fine, but we haven’t got the points we want.

As one of the players said at the weekend, our position at the moment is a bit scary. No-one wants it to get any worse.


LOYALTY isn’t something you get that much of in football nowadays – but in Kevin Davies you have got a player who personifies the word.

I’d like to congratulate the skipper on making his 400th appearance for the club because it really is a remarkable achievement in this day and age.

I have said before that at some stages, he has carried the club on his shoulders. Sometimes the amount he has taken on when the club has struggled has come at a cost to his own form.

But for him to stick by Bolton for nearly 10 years now says a lot about him as a player and as a man.

He’s done a lot for the less privileged people in the community through his charity work but on the pitch he’s still got plenty to offer too.

Marvin Sordell is the man in form at the moment, and I’m glad to say that. But big Kev will be up for a scrap because you don’t play 400 games without knowing how to fight for your place in the team. It’ll be nothing new for him.


THE club will seem a very different place for Marvin Sordell at the moment, as the goals continue to flow for him.

All of a sudden, he’s getting a chance to do what he’s getting paid to do, and that’s put the ball in the back of the net.

It’s amazing what a spot of confidence can do for you. When you go back home or you’re out in the town, the only thing people ask is “why are you not in the team?”

It’s at times like that you want to hide away. You don’t want to discuss it.

After getting in the team and doing well, Marvin will be singing that from the rooftops. He’ll want to talk about how he is doing, and rightly so.


MARK Davies is on his way back, and that can only be good news for Wanderers.

On his day, I don’t think there is a better player of his type in the whole division.

When we played him in that three – the central position behind the striker – he looked a different class before his injury, and I really hope he can be the catalyst for something when he gets back into the team.

When he’s on form, Mark makes good use of space, picks the ball up and runs well with it, plays those little one-twos on the edge of the box. And most of all, he’s got a goal threat that I think our midfield has lacked a little bit.

He’s a game-changer, and the same can be said for Stu Holden, who I noticed got through 90 minutes the other day.

Having those guys back in the team could lift everyone, including the fans.