Bolton were poor and we were quite good. They said, 'Go on then, strut your stuff' , so we did. They didn't close us down until it was too late and chipped in with a couple of own goals which was nice. Pavlyuchenko rubbed salt into Harry's wounds, which won't do either of them any harm, with two goals icily taken like a Russian assassin out of James Bond. Gudjohnsen came on and gave us an intoxicating whiff of the footballer he once was.
That was apart from some very sloppy passing in the first half when we tried in our usual sporting way to make the game a little more even. Fortunately their forwards were too inept to take advantage. Gomes evidently wasn't in on the fair-play scheme and insisted on saving everything. Otherwise it all went to plan. Ekotto popped up at right back in place of Corluka who was ill, and gave a very good impression of a man playing out of position. In fact a very good impression of a man auditioning for Long John Silver. He coped because Bolton didn't put him under any pressure.
Pavlyuchenko has scored 5 goals in the equivalent of a game and a half and will start against Everton if there is any justice or rationality in the world. Modric set him up for his first ,again,and he set himself up for the second after his initial header was well saved.. Dawson and Bassong kept yet another clean sheet, but will face a sterner test on Sunday, assuming that Ledley is not fit. The boy Gareth posed again as a left winger and it was his cross that O'Brien diverted into his own goal for our third.
So part one of the double- pronged examination of our cup and league pretensions has been successfully negotiated. Everton, knocked out of the Europa Cup on Thursday, are still struggling with injuries: Jagielka played his first game for nearly a year and Senderos, their latest import, went off injured. Cahill is not yet ready to return. At home with a newly revived Pavlyuchenko we should prove too much for them as long as we take a firm grasp of the midfield. If Palacios has not recovered this might prove a problem. Where's O'hara when you need him? Oh yes going down with the good ship 'Pompey'. Lets hope he swims ashore to join Kaboul a ship-mate that has already deserted the sinking ship.
Everton might regard a point as a bonus but we need to win as City and Villa have games in hand. We threw away the game at Everton with two late goals and a missed penalty. I think that we will win by a small rockfall rather than a landslide. All bets are off if the 'virus' that is working its way through our ranks claims any more victims. The Academy lads have been laid low and the training ground is closed. In fact if it spreads much further the game may be off too. Lasagna anyone?
Meanwhile Harry still has the pedal down to the floor on Roman. Apparently the Russian can't speak English very well. Well Harry nor can you but we still love you. First of all he wasn't passing Harry's training enthusiasm test and was therefor only eligible for the bench. Then he buckled down and qualified for a substitute's role. Finally he secured his starter's badge.' The rest is history' as they say. But perhaps not as he must now show that he can do it over the longer term. He can only do that if the Manager, that's you Harry, selects him. I hope he gets as long as Keane and Crouch did to demonstrate their qualities. I hope too that scoring goals is not the only criteria but that the focus is on forming effective partnerships with the other strikers.
It reminds me of the 'What did the BBC ever do for us' advert. Apart from the News, the Sport, the Documentaries, the Classic Dramas and so on. What did Pavlyuchenko ever do for us? What, apart from scoring within five minutes on his first appearance: apart from scoring two goals on his second appearance; apart from scoring another two goals on his third appearance and only start in the league this season. Harry, the Cold War is over. Bits of the Berlin Wall sit on the mantlepieces of a thousand student bed-sits. We're all on the same side now.
And now, apparently, Roman is everybody's favourite: name sung at the Lane; legend status guaranteed; last season now completely forgotten. Get off him I saw him first. Enough; I won't even mention his name again, unless he scores a hat-trick on Sunday. He couldn't: could he?