BLACKPOOL beware – Keith Hill’s Barmy Army are on the march!

Ever willing to offer up an engaging epigram or two, the Bolton boss has likened his side’s seemingly unwinnable fight against relegation to a “war” and is now rallying the troops for Monday night’s Red Rose clash.

Victory at the UniBol would still leave Wanderers six points from break-even, and that is without the prospect of further punishment from the EFL, which is expected to be confirmed at some stage this month.

If military comparisons are being thrown around, Hill and David Flitcroft’s uphill battle looked more like the Alamo. But while the club’s long-suffering supporters readily accept the manager’s relentlessly optimistic rhetoric, anything still seems possible.

Nobody, at least nobody outside Bolton, had the Whites down as anything other than relegation fodder given the head start their gave their rivals. Hill is revelling in the opportunity to prove people wrong.

“The word ‘easy’ is not in my dictionary,” he told The Bolton News. “What do you get that’s easy?

“We are a football club and nothing that we do every day is easy. It can’t be.

“We’ve been dealt the hand of minus 12 points, most football pundits and most people have written us off, now we’re an army and we’re going to war against our League One opponents.

“Most League One opponents are in front of us in respect of their development and planning but I have the fighter’s mentality. Nothing worth achieving and dreaming about is easy.

“The easiest thing to be when you get up in the morning is a loser. Everybody can do it, everybody can just go and not make an impact.

“We’re looking for players, we’re looking for staff, we’re looking for supporters to make an impact on BWFC right here, right now and in the future during this new era. It’s as simple as that. And we’ve got to take everybody on with a ’10 man’ attitude going to war. But nothing is easy.”

Shedding the doom and gloom which enveloped the club over the last two years has been aided, in part, by the arrival of new owners, Football Ventures. The refreshingly warm attitude of Sharon Brittan, Emma Beaugeard, Mike James and Co was exactly what the doctor ordered, and Hill has managed to take that enthusiasm to the training ground.

 He is realistic about the severity of the situation he inherited from Phil Parkinson and the administrators but now wants people to judge him on what happens from here on in.

“We knew exactly what we were getting into,” he said. “And we knew it wasn’t going to be an overnight fix.

“Two seasons ago when the club was not winning in the Championship – nothing to do with me. The beginning of this season – nothing to do with me.

“The football club is now in my ownership, over the last five games and we’ve drawn three and lost two.

“We are now defensively looking a better side than we were so there’s a little bit of stability and there’s a little bit of growth but psychologically my players should have no harm reflected on them as a result of what happened in the first part of the season, the whole of last season and what happened 10 years ago when this football club was doing what it did to put it in the position where it was vulnerable to EFL rules and regulations.”

If Hill could see the upside of a 6-1 defeat at Rotherham in his first official game in charge, then he should have no problem picking out the positives in what came afterwards.

Even a penalty shootout defeat against Rochdale in the Trophy in midweek failed to dent the feeling that Wanderers are building towards something under the Boltonian, who pointed out that competition rules ensured they did not leave Spotland empty handed.

“The run of results that I’ve been on is three draws and two losses, whichever way you look at it,” he said. “We got a point from the Rochdale game. Psychologically all I’m hearing is that we got beat by Rochdale – we didn’t, we got a point and you don’t get a point if you get beat.

“This is the trophy we’re in, we know the rules, we’re second in our Trophy league, we can still progress, so it’s lost two games, drawn three.

“We lost the first game heavily against Rotherham, that was a massive impact on what we needed to do and the players haven’t run away from it. We’ve had positive responses from Oxford, Sunderland and Portsmouth, all three teams you would imagine will be in the mix somewhere and all three teams are a million miles in front of us.

“Jack Ross has been there two years, Karl Robinson has been there for three seasons and Kenny Jackett is in his third season. So these are established sides and we’re making headway, we’re making massive strides.

“Our first-half performance against Portsmouth delivered everything that I wanted from the perspective of controlling the opponent, in-ball possession, passes completed and turnovers with respect to creating opportunities.

“If there is a negative it’s that we’re not converting opportunities and we’re probably not getting enough players into goalscoring positions to psychologically unnerve the opponent.

“We’re making massive strides, though, and once the emotion of the scoreboard is taken out of the equation I can then plot from Saturday onwards where we need to improve to get to a 90-minute performance and then we can start affecting the scoreboard.”

Monday’s game evokes some famous images of days gone by – not least the Matthews Final – and though Bolton and Blackpool have never truly been local rivals, there is enough history between the two clubs to add some spice to the occasion.

“It is a great occasion, representing your values, representing what it is you’re trying to achieve, representing this great football club, it’s a derby for me, an historic derby,” Hill said.

“Back in the day these clubs were going toe-to-toe in the highest divisions. But it’s a modern-day game in League One now, they’ve got to realise that, it’s a game that’s a three-point game, it’s going to be a competitive game and we’re going to reflect our modern-day values that should be reflected in the glorious days of this local derby.

“The values of history should still be maintained in modern-day football and I hope that that’s evident when we play on Monday night against Blackpool.”

Wanderers were able to watch their League One rivals in action over the weekend having been pushed hard in training.

The suggestion that a Monday game is in some way an inconvenience was dismissed out of hand by the Bolton boss.

“Our preparations do not change whatsoever for a Monday night game, again externally other people create problems with it being on a Monday night, it’s just another day, it’s just another game, whether it’s on a Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, we make this big hullabaloo about it being on a Monday night, and it messing about with our psyche.

“It’s Monday-night football, embrace it, it’s just another day. Don’t bring a negative situation into what is a positive game that we’re going to be playing in.

“We deal with days of the week and hours of the clock, forget all that, I don’t live my life by a clock or by days of the week.”