Super John's Benchmark - 27/03/2005
John McGinlay didn't need to look at the Bolton team to assess its chance of getting into Europe for the first time in the club's history.
John, who jetted in from his coaching job in America for last Sunday's Legends Awards evening at the Reebok, just looked at the bench for the home victory over Norwich.
Sitting there were Nigerian captain Jay-Jay Okocha, extrovert Spaniard Ivan Campo, top scorer Henrik Pedersen and Arab Player of the Year Radhi Jaidi.
Only big central defender Jaidi got on to the park and that was more a tactical move to burn up a few late seconds.
McGinlay, voted third behind Nat Lofthouse and Okocha in the official list of 50 Legends, said: "As far as I'm concerned, Bolton are as good as in Europe. Just look at the bench on Saturday.
"The first couple of years we came up into the Premiership, what we had was out on the park. Now look. Three or four years down the line the club have strengthened every year. The players who were on the bench against Norwich would walk into most teams.
"In the past, everybody would have been happy to know we'd survived in the league but that's no longer enough. Our ambitions are far greater than that. It's now a question of how high we can finish and which European competition we'll be in.
"That's phenomenal. You've got to take your hat off to Sam Allardyce. What a job he's done. I don't care what people say about the style of football, that's a load of rubbish. You play to your strengths. What kind of manager would you be if you didn't?
"If you've got Kevin Davies in your team, you do what he is good at. He covers every blade of grass and I'll guarantee that the centre-halves in this league must look at Bolton Wanderers and not relish playing us.
"Kevin roughs them up, he knocks them about. The midfield get about people and they support well. When they need to, they drop off, soak up the pressure and hit teams on the counter-attack.
"Sometimes it might not be pretty to watch but, if we went out just to entertain, would we be in the position we are now?
"I'd like to see us play 4-4-2 at times with two strikers playing in harness, but you can't knock what's happening here."
McGinlay was surprised and more than a shade embarrassed to have pipped Lofthouse in the vote for Bolton's best striker.
It was a memorable evening with the likes of Preston's Sir Tom Finney, Blackburn and England old boys Bryan Douglas and Ronnie Clayton, Liverpool hard man Tommy Smith, and PFA chief Gordon Taylor, the former Bolton winger, among the guests which also included many of the 1958 FA Cup winning side.
Allardyce, voted the best manager in the club's 128-year history, revealed what it meant for him to play for Wanderers as a kid. Fresh strawberries in December!
He recalled: "I once had them with cream at the Royal Garden Hotel in London. Then we were told they were £10 a throw - and I'd already had two portions! That would have cost the maximum wage a few years earlier."
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