The Guardian’s Paolo Bandini and Tom Lutz deserve some kind of special prize this Friday evening — who else in the world of soccer journalism would be savvy enough to turn alleged police brutality in Madrid into an excuse for a gratuitious shot at Jack Johnson?
ZANG! ZIP! ZANG! Oh, hello readers, the Fiver was just trying out Gary Megson’s Reverse [email protected], a modern day marvel machine with the ability to turn grub into gold, Jack Johnson into Bob Dylan and stultifyingly dull relegation contenders Bolton Wanderers into stultifyingly dull Euro Vase contenders Bolton Wanderers. Megson first tested it upon himself, of course, transforming himself from an incompetent laughing stock into a small fiery God of the touchline. Nowhere was that more evident than last night as Bolton bored AtlÃ©tico Madrid out of existence to claim a place in the last 16 of the Vase.
That’s not all Gary’s been doing though. Last night he turned the [email protected] on his own fans, transforming the humble English troublemaker from a fearsome defender of the English right to spend a penny in those fancy foreign fountains into a defenceless victim of baton-wielding Spanish police. “The club’s fans were subjected to a number of assaults and unprovoked baton charges before, during and after the game, in addition to the aggressive use of police horses to manoeuvre fans towards the stadium,” said a Bolton suit today, in a deliciously long statement that pushed the Fiver towards its target word count. “Bolton Wanderers supporters have an impeccable reputation and an excellent record of good behaviour when travelling abroad to European matches, and the club believes the actions of the Madrid police are entirely unacceptable.”
Now, there have been complaints from Spain that Bolton fans were throwing plastic bottles at AtlÃ©ti fans during the game, but that hardly warrants a swingers-skull combo from a policeman’s truncheon.