Adobe Flash Player Required.
Download the latest version here.

EPL Circus - 24 April

24 Apr 2012 | 10:25-Ben Hocking and Michael Rogers

The relegation battle is even more passionate than the race for league supremacy but at both ends of the table there are pessimists.

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.

About this blog

THE
CIRCUS

The Circus

The Circus is The World Game's regular look at the beautiful game from left field. So join us every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for something a little more light-hearted than the norm.
Read More.

Meet Our Bloggers

Les Murray

Fondly known as 'Mr Football', Les has been directly involved in all the major events covered by SBS Sport, including five World Cup football tournaments. Follow @lesmurraysbs on Twitter.

Craig Foster

As SBS’s chief football analyst, Craig provides expert opinion and unrivalled insight. He has also represented the Socceroos and played abroad. Follow @Craig_Foster on Twitter.

David Zdrilic

After years playing abroad and a 20-goal career for the Socceroos, David turned his hand to football punditry and is a beach football fanatic. Follow @Zdrila on Twitter.

Scott McIntyre

Scott’s passion and knowledge of Asian football has consolidated his reputation as Australia’s foremost Asian football expert. Follow @mcintinhos on Twitter.

Lucy Zelic

Lucy is a life-long sports buff and former host of the Official A-League Podcast and also commentated games for Canberra United in the W-League. Follow @LucyZelic on Twitter.

Tim Vickery

British-born Tim works as a journalist and has lived in Brazil since 1994 and provides unrivalled knowledge of South American football. Follow @Tim_Vickery on Twitter.

Philip Micallef

Philip Micallef is a football writer with almost 40 years of experience. He has worked for News Limited and now SBS. He is a long-time follower of AC Milan.

Ned Zelic

Considered one of Australia's most gifted players, Ned Zelic represented the Socceroos 34 times over a decorated career that spanned Europe, Asia and the United Kingdom. Follow @NedZelic on Twitter.

Vitor Sobral

Vitor commentates for SBS and works as a presenter for The World Game. His passion for European football resonates through his blogs. Follow @Vitor_TWG on Twitter.

Tony Palumbo

A journalist with decades of experience on TV and radio, Tony is an expert on all things Italian - including football.

Australian FourFourTwo, The World Game Magazine

Australian FourFourTwo, The World Game Magazine

If it’s in The World Game, it’s in FourFourTwo. At newsagents and online.

4WD Australia: 50 Short Getaways (Book)

4WD Australia: 50 Short Getaways (Book)

Take the trip of a lifetime with this handy full colour book of 4WD trail information. Regional journeys highlight the top 50 tracks around Australia!

  • '09 #1 Sports Soccer Website, Hitwise
  • '09 #1 Television Program, Hitwise
  • '08 #1 Sports Soccer Website, Hitwise