Anybody who’s checked the official Latics site in the last couple of days will probably be aware of a promotion by club sponsors 188BET. If you remember back to December before the fixture was rearranged due to adverse weather conditions, the hype surrounding this game was massive – a Monday night, last Prem game before Christmas, live on ESPN, promotions aplenty etc.
As much as the club has tried to emulate this by carrying over the Flag Day thing, they shouldn’t need to. After all, it’s Bolton, our closest rivals geographically and who knows, perhaps in the table as well by the end of this season – if we can’t get ourselves motivated for this game we never will.
I have to take my hat off to the club, however, in their continued merchandising and promotional efforts this season. Perhaps the most pleasing is their gesture of allowing supporters with half season tickets to attend tonight’s game as a virtual bonus fixture. See, this game was originally scheduled to take place on 21st December, before the half season tickets came into effect for the 26th.
All of this makes me wonder how Latics can continue to offer such great promotions when they’re probably losing money on the vast majority of them. Add to this the fact the two home FA Cup ties probably cost the club money to host, especially with the low gate receipts, almost to the point where it’s actually more financially beneficial to go out of the competition. Actually, there’s a conspiracy theory and a half for the Daily Mail readers out there.
Anyway, tonight’s match is a big game for both teams, who will both think they are capable of grabbing the all important points.
A renewed optimism, no matter how small, surrounds The Trotters’ season with the appointment of Owen Coyle and the “Megson Out” brigade are very slowly starting to trickle back into the fray. There are injury concerns for Bolton, who’ll be without Gary Cahill, Ivan Klasnic and Gavin McCann. They do, however, welcome back Jack Wilshere and Vladimir Weiss for this encounter.
Meanwhile, the Latics are in the middle of sticky patch which has seen them lose to Notts County and Everton and draw with Stoke and Sunderland in the past month, a relatively busy period for the club fixture-wise.
James McCarthy, who sustained a hamstring injury in last week’s game against Stoke, is rated 50/50, with Jordi Gomez waiting in the wings to take his place. Personally I hope this doesn’t happen and we don’t see Gomez for the duration of the ninety minutes.
Three points are certainly up for grabs, and tonight’s encounter has the potential to be one of those barnstorming bottom-of-the-table clashes played with plenty of physical presence on a wearing pitch. With Martinez favouring the long ball in recent times, a good old fashioned Lancashire derby is on the cards, and even though there are some Champions League matches taking place this evening, nobody in Greater Manchester gives a monkey’s.
Oh yeah, and look out for me at tonight’s game – I’ll be the one with the Union Jack flag (yeah, I always have to buck the trend, don’t I?) in the West Stand.
Flag day promotional pic: Official Latics site