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Terrible performance and dreadful refereeing adds to Bolton's woes

By Rob
Monday 26th September 2011
Bolton Wanderers have suffered an abysmal start to the season with just a single win to smile about after six games. And in seeing the side play live for the first time this season at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, it was painfully easy to see why.

Arsenal, a team far from the free-flowing footballing we've seen of Arsene Wenger sides in recent years, at times ripped Bolton apart at will. Bolton's defence was wide open and every time the ball was moved to the wings they looked disturbingly likely to concede a goal.

In the wake of Bolton's humiliation at the hands of Manchester United (to whom they lost 5-0 at home) I called for Owen Coyle to change the way the side played. Coyle did do so, but still the team lacked creativity, the lone striker was painfully isolated and the side didn't look remotely like scoring throughout the 90 minutes. Add to this the fact that Martin Petrov is a disgrace to the name of all professional footballers with his lack of pride and work rate, and Wanderers really are looking increasingly likely to struggle for survival.

But sometimes, as a smaller team that in terms of size and money doesn't stand a fair chance of winning (just compare the cost of Arsenal's team with Bolton's), you need a little bit of luck now and again. Unfortunately for Bolton, they simply don't get it at the best of times. However, with one certain man in town - they are absolutely guaranteed not to get it. That man is Mark Clattenburg.

Clattenburg is a terrible referee who has given Bolton rough justice on countless occasions. He didn't give a definite penalty away at Spurs last season when Gary Cahill was tripped, he failed to spot a dreaful studs first lunge on Chung Yong-Lee, he missed a Mohamed Sissoko stamp on a prone El-Hadji Diouf in 2006 and in the same game missed Steven Gerrard practicing his bouncy castle skills on Kevin Nolan's chest. However, when our players have dared to question his approach they are punished. Kevin Davies was last year fined by the FA for stating "Clattenburg never gives me anything," after Bolton were denied what was a clear goal against Fulham.

Yesterday David Wheater was given a red card for a 'challenge' on Theo Walcott. At the time it didn't seem Wheater had done a lot wrong - especially given Walcott's penchant for falling over at any given opportunity, which was a very prevalent part of this match - and on replays it still seems there was minimal actual contact to warrant a sending off. Funnily enough, in similar circumstances in the same fixture last season Gary Cahill was also sent off for no reason when Bolton were still in the match - a dismissal that also put Arsenal in control.

Directly before Wheater's sending off Bolton played the ball up to Davies, who was barged into by an Arsenal defender yet no free-kick was given. In fact, throughout the whole match Davies was not given one free-kick despite the Arsenal defence consistently upending him and wrapping their arms around him. On the other hand, Arsenal were awarded numerous free kicks for far lesser offences, to the point that Clattenburg genuinely awarded a free kick when Walcott got his feet mixed up and simply tripped over.

Robin van Persie may well have walked away with all the plaudits for scoring two goals in this match. But what wasn't shown on TV and in match reports is that during a melee with a few Bolton players, with the score at 1-0 and with Bolton down to 10 men, van Persie pushed his head into the face of a Bolton player - an act that earned Ivan Klasnic a red card just last week. Yet Clattenburg, a mere 10 yards away from the incident, did absolutely nothing about it.

Yet again, with Clattenburg in charge, Bolton were barely given a decision all match. It's becoming the case that if Clattenburg referees a Bolton match, they are guaranteed to lose. I don't want to sound like I'm bitter and just having a whinge, it's yet another case of smaller teams simply not getting the decisions from referees against the bigger teams. I'm sure many of you fans out there can empathise with me on this.

As it is, Bolton were outclassed and defeated 3-0, leaving them bottom of the league with just 3 points and with 5 straight defeats. On the basis of the team's performance they thoroughly deserve to be there, but what they don't need is the assistance of a biased referee aiding their opponents.

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