In modern times, if you need to get a message to someone, common practice appears to be tying a banner to an aeroplane and flying it in the general direction of the recipient.
And so it was at Turf Moor, where former deity Owen Coyle returned to face the club he infamously walked out on, that the latest writing in the sky appeared. Just as the two teams had come out, a plane circled the ground towing a banner that paraphrased Paul’s letter to the Galatians with the simple message: Judas Coyle – You reap what you sow. Eloquently put and perfectly timed, the stunt perfectly encapsulated the way the occasion should be treated – with humour. For all the bile and boos directed at Coyle, there’s nothing worse than being laughed at and that’s exactly what the plane was doing. Hats off to those involved.
|Jason kept the Trotters' forwards well Shackelled|
As fun as this all was, as it always is when a quality pantomime villain rocks up at the Turf, it all would have meant nothing if a quality Bolton side, with all their quality, had done what many quality observers expected and left with at least a point. That it didn’t happen was the down to a quality performance from Burnley, brimming with quality. Bolton had the most quality in the first half hour, but our defence was quality, David and Jason keeping the Trotters’ quality forwards well Shackelled. This provided the platform for Chris McCann and Dean Marney to exude quality and dominate the midfield whilst the wingers probed patiently, with flashes of quality, and soon enough we began to create quality chances for Adam Bogdan to flap and wave at, the quality-lacking Bolton goalkeeper mysteriously having opted to camouflage his kit with his hair.
Deservedly, the breakthrough came as half time was approaching, but it was a somewhat odd goal. A blocked shot caused Moses’ defence to part like the sea, the ball falling kindly enough for Charlie Austin’s head to post its entry for miss of the season and Martin Paterson was luckily in the right place to nod the ball past the invisible Bogdan. He looked as far offside as it is possible to be but the eagle-eyed Mick McCarthy confirmed, to the millions watching TV in the desert, that Petrov had decided to stand as close to the goal-line as possible, thus playing the entire pitch onside. It’s safe to say we were quite pleased with that and we went into half-time a goal up.
The second half was slightly delayed as the benevolent Eddie Howe allowed Bolton to come back out a few minutes before us, so they could practise their standing, but it didn’t help them and the Clarets were back on the front foot from the restart. The pressure told again when Junior Stanislas produced one of those balls that are impossible to defend. McCann stretched for it and missed but the bounce carried the ball to Austin who finished clinically with his entire upper body.
Last season, our young, inexperienced team might well have made hard work of seeing the game out, but Howe has strengthened the team in the right areas and we look a lot more solid, well-balanced and mature. With half an hour still to play, the result was never in doubt. We were comfortable and could have had more as Bogdan reinforced his reputation as a shot stopper who stops shots in the most unconventional ways possible. Bolton rightly have aspirations of promotion this season, but they’re going nowhere with this goalkeeper.
Burnley made it look easy in the end; such was the standard of the performance. We looked strong, well-balanced and with no little threat. The surprising thing is perhaps that it didn’t surprise me; I’ve got a lot of confidence in the manager and what he is trying to achieve. We couldn’t have asked for a better first day of the season. Three local Olympians were introduced to the crowd before kick-off and the reception they got was well worthy of their achievements. There have been a lot of comparisons made between Olympians and footballers of late but, as brilliant as the Olympics were, when football is at its best there is nothing better. And this was one of those days. The sun shone, the crowd roared, Judas was vanquished. And God saw that it was good.