Bolton Wanderers today sacked Sammy Lee as manager of its football club. Taking a page from Chelsea’s book, the club claims the decision was “by mutual consent,” which is the new corporate speak for “we sacked him for doing a terrible job, but we’re too nice to say that, so we’ll say we both came to the same decision.”
Sammy Lee became Bolton manager on April 29, 2007, after he was appointed to succeed Sam Allardyce when it emerged in the newspapers that Big Sam had made an agreement with Bolton chairman Phil Gartside to leave the club. While no one knew the system, the club and the players and the modern training methodologies employed by Bolton better than Sammy Lee, many pundits questioned the decision at the time. Many thought, myself included, that Bolton rushed into the decision and would have done better by appointing Lee as a temporary manager until the Trotters could find an adequate manager capable of turning an already powerful side into one that could compete in European competitions such as UEFA.
Ultimately, it was Bolton’s poor form in the defense that crippled the side this season, who currently sit second from bottom with just one win all season (against Derby County).
If you watched and listened to Sammy Lee this season, you’d be hard pressed to find such a warm and friendly manager and one who was more than willing to do personal interviews and wear his heart on his sleeve.
Those warm sensibilities carry over from Lee’s playing career at Liverpool where he was affectionately known as “Super Sammy Lee.” He was such a likeable character then and now, and played with a speed and skill that helped Liverpool achieve so much during its golden years of the early 80s. Lee played for Liverpool from 1976 to 1986 (see Lee pictured above after helping Liverpool win an European Cup).
In Liverpool FC’s recent poll which named the “100 Players Who Shook The Kop,” Lee was ranked number 47 which is a lofty achievement for a club with so many famous players over the years.
Where does Bolton and Sammy Lee go from here? I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Lee take charge of managing a Championship club in the foreseeable future. Bolton, on the other hand, has a difficult decision to make. This Saturday, they play Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium and The Trotters will put first-team coach Ricky Sabriaga in charge on a temporary basis.
Looking longer term, who’s the best person for the Wanderers position? Captain Gary Speed will be a possibility despite his management experience. My pick would be Paul Jewell who would be able to steady the ship at Bolton. The former Wigan manager also has the experience of keeping a Premier League side from avoiding the relegation drop. The question is ‘would Jewell even want the job?’ after all of the stress of helping Wigan escape? We shall see.