NEIL Lennon’s Bolton are aiming high again following their 3-1 thrashing of neighbours Wigan at the Macron Stadium.
Latics’ remarkable slump, which has seen them win just four times in 24 fixtures, comes in stark contrast to Wanderers’ revival under Lennon as this three points lifted them out of the bottom three for the first time since September.
This win, the fourth in six games since Lennon arrived, followed on from their dismantling of Cardiff in a 3-0 success on Tuesday night.
“For the first time in eight, nine weeks we are out of the bottom three and actually looking up the table,” said Lennon.
“I think they’ve put a marker down this week in terms of the level of performances tonight and Tuesday night to show they can certainly play and compete at this level very, very well.
“We’ve set a benchmark; the game’s live on TV across the nation so people are starting to talk about Bolton in a positive way, rather than a negative way. That’s the first part of the job done.”
Uwe Rosler issued a damning verdict of Wigan’s second-half capitulation at Bolton, calling the performance “embarrassing” and accusing his own players of giving up.
Latics were hit by an 11-minute second-half blitz in Wanderers’ 3-1 victory to leave Rosler questioning the whereabouts of his players’ fight for a derby clash which the hosts rose to the occasion for.
After a strong first period for the visitors - during which time Callum McManaman hit the woodwork twice - Max Clayton, Craig Davies and Lee Chung-yong had given Neil Lennon’s side a three-goal advantage just 16 minutes into the second half.
McManaman’s brilliant consolation 11 minutes from time could not mask Rosler’s fury and the German did not hold back in his post-match assessment.
He said: “Second half, I have to be honest - Bolton won the game by pure willpower, desire, energy, going to the limit and forcing the issue, forcing the mistakes and forcing the goals - all credit to them.
“We just folded altogether. And for that I have no understanding whatsoever.
“I take responsibility. I’m not blaming anybody but when we analyse the second half, we gave up. I apologise to the chairman, I apologise to the supporters.
“It’s very, very seldom in the last 10 years that I had a team who gave up in the way we gave up in the second half.
“I felt embarrassed by the performance that we have given in the second half.
“I’m not sure that meant as much for some of my players as it meant for our supporters and for our chairman.
“In any competitive game of football you never give up, you always fight to the end. To give up at Bolton in the second half in a derby game - it is unforgivable.”
Wigan were leapfrogged by Bolton, who began the evening in the bottom three, and there is a very real possibility that Latics, 18 months removed from winning the FA Cup, head into next week’s international break in the second tier’s relegation zone.
When asked whether he feared chairman Dave Whelan could be searching for a new manager over the next fortnight as a result, Rosler replied: “You’ll have to ask the chairman. I am fearless, but there’s always a risk when I started (as a manager) 10 years ago and it is still the same.”