The relegation battle is even more passionate than the race for league supremacy but at both ends of the table there are pessimists.
By
The Circus, Ben Hocking, Michael Rogers

24 Apr 2012 - 10:25 AM  UPDATED 3 Mar 2014 - 4:59 PM

You say relegation, I say survival

The Circus is constantly amazed at football's ability to provide a window into human nature. Some people - like the Everton players who defied the laws of Fergie time to snatch a 4-4 draw at Old Trafford - are optimists. Others - like Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini - are pessimists.

Owen Coyle is firmly in the former camp. After a 1-1 draw with Swansea that leaves Bolton mired in the relegation zone, albeit with two games in hand over their rivals, the Trotters manager was remarkably upbeat.

"We've got five games, a lot of teams round about us only have three. We'd rather have points in the bag but we've got 15 points to play for and who's to say we can't take many of them?" he said.

"The players came storming back into the game, scored a great goal, and I thought we got a grip of it, particularly towards the end of the first half.

"It was the wrong decision-making in the wrong areas but who's to say that won't be the point that keeps us up?"

Bolton midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker, on the other hand is a card-carrying pessimist.

"The draw feels like a loss," Reo-Coker said after the game. "Towards the end we looked a bit flat. We needed a bit more energy and belief. That can't come from management. It's up to us players."

"No more slack performances. We've got five games left and we've got to get results. Every game is a cup final. No bullshit, no sugar-coating it: that's the reality."

Given Bolton's dicey history in cup finals - six from 12, and nothing that matters since 1958 - Reo-Coker is right to be a little nervous.

Speaking of optimism

There is a certain confidence that seems to inspire those that have come back from the dead. Who could forget Kerry Packer's exchange with Ray Martin in 1990 after surviving his first heart attack?

Packer: Do you want the good news or the bad news?

Martin: Give us the good news?

Packer: The good news is there is no devil. The bad news is there no heaven.

Bolton's recent returnee from the other side, Fabrice Muamba, wasn't as blunt as Australia's since-departed billionaire, but he certainly hasn't let the experience bow him.

"It's too early to say whether I'll play football professionally again but I have great faith in God and I have hope, so who knows? If I can come back from the dead then perhaps I can achieve anything."

Bold talk for a man who admits he is still struggling to walk around the block.

The numbers game

53 – years since Manchester United has scored four goals at Old Trafford and failed to win before the 4-4 effort against Everton

7 – times United has conceded three or more goals in all competitions this season

9 – times United has conceded three or more goals in all competitions in the five seasons preceding this one

10 – games played by star centre-back and United captain Nemanja Vidic this season

The spoken word

"When we came into this level we were the new Blackpool. Today people are calling us the new Barcelona. That shows how far the players have progressed." - Swansea manager Brendan Rogers continues his bold bid to replace a faltering Pep Guardiola at the Nou Camp with a 1-1 draw against Bolton.