Tony Gillan: A 10-0 win against hapless Bolton may temporarily appease some Sunderland fans but Jack Ross will be twitchy about this clash

Although it’s still only September, Sunderland make their fifth visit to the North West this season on Saturday when they visit Bolton Wanderers.

Friday, 20th September 2019, 12:05 pm
Updated Friday, 20th September 2019, 12:05 pm
Jack Ross must be wary of Bolton Wanderers

Bolton are invariably described by media types as “hapless”. While this isn’t the most imaginative adjective, there is no denying they have little to offer by way of hap these days.

This is due largely to the appalling incompetence of their previous owner (the simple words “fit and proper” can seem incomprehensible in football).

As a result of a 12-point deduction for entering administration following an unpaid tax bill, they were virtually relegated before a ball had been kicked.

This is awful to endure for any club, let alone one that has spent 73 seasons in the top flight, including 11 consecutive Premier League campaigns (one more than Sunderland ever managed).

Sign up to our Sunderland AFC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

After spending zero on new players, they have accrued two points from 21 so far this season and haven’t won in six months.

They really make you think what might have happened to Sunderland not long ago, had things not changed for the better.

Bolton’s one grain of optimism comes from new ownership. But is seems highly unlikely that things won’t get worse before they get better.

They also have a new manager, Keith Hill, who upon taking charge last month professed it to be his “dream job”.

Presumably this expression was used to reflect his love of the club; otherwise he would be frightened to fall asleep.

The plight of a great old club like Bolton or, worse still, Bury is both saddening and gladdening. Saddening for obvious reasons. Gladdening because it isn’t Sunderland.

(On a completely unrelated, unconnected, disassociated, random passing thought and non sequitur; does anyone know how Martin Bain is doing these days?)

So what chance do Sunderland have at Bolton?

Let’s not pretend otherwise; they have every chance under the circumstances. It would be disingenuous to say Sunderland aren’t expected to win. This isn’t arrogance. You can get 7/1 on a Bolton victory.

Worrying or what? The fear and paranoia supporters might feel at being such favourites is compounded by the knowledge that Bolton will win eventually.

The presence of four former SAFC players in Bolton’s squad: Alnwick, Buckley, Bridcutt and Murphy, fuels the fear.

They also have midfielder De’Marlio Shakie Brown-Sterling; although I only mention him because his name is just fabulous.

Jack Ross must be twitchy about this one. His critics are ready to give him what for, regardless of the scoreline.

The performance in the previous away match at Accrington Stanley wasn’t great. The players themselves said as much. But it was three goals and three points and worthy of a little, just a little, praise.

Unless of course you refuse to ever give any.

It is difficult to foresee any score at Bolton that won’t result in see the perpetually critical having their customary face-twisting jamboree.

Winning by five or fewer will be unacceptable as it won’t have bettered Bolton’s last four opponents.

A draw equals anger. Defeat would see Ross tarred, feathered then run out of town.

A 10-0 win might – might – temporarily appease those rather strange people who fail to see any reason why Sunderland shouldn’t reach at least 129 points this season.

Why do they think Sunderland are in League One in the first place?