Megson bows to a genius but aims to survive

By PETER FERGUSON

Last updated at 00:27 20 March 2008


Gary Megson saluted the 'genius' of Cristiano Ronaldo last

night but insisted his

Bolton team of more

modest talents can beat the

odds to secure their Barclays

Premier League survival.

Bolton succumbed to their fifth

successive League defeat with

Ronaldo's first-half double and are

two points adrift of safety with eight

games to play, starting against

Manchester City on Saturday.

Al Habsi

Down and out: Bolton goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi and Andy O’Brien look dejected after Cristiano Ronaldo’s second goal

With their own match-winner

Nicolas Anelka a fading memory,

Bolton must trust their salvation to

plenty of good, honest toil — or

putting a shift in, as manager

Megson would have it.

He said: "There is cause for

optimism if we reproduce our

second-half performance in our

remaining games. We had more

shots than in most away games

we've played. We have to do it every

time."

By the second half, Bolton's hopes

were as good as sunk "by probably

the best player in the world," as

Megson conceded of the

Portuguese maestro.

He said: "We

have been done by two set-pieces.

The first one we were sloppy, the

second was genius.

"Our lads were talking about that

free-kick in the dressing-room.

We've seen him do that twice now

and after discussing it the upshot is

that we still don't know how he does

it. A fantastic strike."

Abdoulaye Meite, back in the side

for the injured Gary Cahill, was

involved in both United goals. His

error allowed Carlos Tevez and

Ronaldo to combine for the first and

he fouled Ronaldo for the second.

Megson was buoyed by Danny

Guthrie's lively midfield performance

as well as a masterclass in

goal from Ali Al Habsi, who has

stepped up seamlessly for injured

first choice Jussi Jaaskelainen.

He said: "When everybody else was

doom and gloom about Jussi, we all

knew what Ali has been doing in

training every day. He's a terrific lad

who's never let us down."

Doom and gloom still hovers,

however. As Bolton face the threat

of relegation, it begs the question of

where they would be had they

managed to hold on to Anelka — or

at least signed a replacement.

It was Anelka who scored the

winning goal against United at the

Reebok in November, one of the

France striker's 11 goals before his

£15million move to Chelsea.

The bulk of the cash was made

available for Megson to try to find a

decent striker but Javier Saviola

elected to stay at Real Madrid and

Johan Elmander was too expensive

at a ludicrous £22m.

Bolton have only once scored

more than one goal in their 16

games since — 2-0 at Reading, their

last League win on February 2 —

and they failed to score in nine of

those matches.

Despite the manner in which they

handed Ronaldo his chances,

defending has not been the problem

as Bolton have rallied with Megson's

arrival then slumped over the last

weeks.

Megson said: "When I came

here we had five points from 10

games. We know what we have to do,

roll our sleeves up and run and work

hard. All the things you have to do

at the other end of the table as well."

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