Watching the entertaining match Tuesday night between Bolton and Hull City, the thought crossed my mind that being the manager of Bolton Wanderers was the least desirable job in the entire Premier League. Little did I know that less than 24 hours later Gary Megson would be sacked as the gaffer.
The only Premier League manager position that is possibly less desirable than the Wanderers is Hull City. But I would argue that Bolton is much less desirable. At least with Hull City you have sympathetic supporters who don’t have high ambitions and who have a team brimming with interesting characters such as Jimmy Bullard and Geovanni.
In fairness to Gary Megson, he shouldn’t have been sacked. I was against Paul Hart being sacked. I was against Mark Hughes being sacked. In all three cases, I was against the managers being sacked because the results on the pitch didn’t match the predicament they were in. Portsmouth were playing with enough confidence and enthusiasm that they could eventually burrow their way out of the bottom three. Manchester City would eventually get their defense right and would be able to turn those draws into wins. And for Bolton, no matter how much supporters dislike Gary Megson, they had two games in hand. If they had won those two games in hand, they would have moved from 18th position to 10th spot in the league! But even if they had won only one of their two games in hand, they still would have moved up to 13th position.
Tying 2-2 against Hull City should have been no disgrace for Bolton last night. Both teams played well and Bolton were so close to scoring an all-important third goal. Even the two goals that Steven Hunt scored were nothing criminal. The first was from a decent cross and was an excellent header into the net. The second took a fortunate deflection for Hunt into the goal.
Looking at Bolton’s recent results, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. They drew 1-1 against Burnley in the local derby at Turf Moor, and we all know how strong Burnley are at home. Prior to that, the Trotters beat West Ham United 3-1. Chelsea only just beat the Hammers recently. Megson’s side drew Manchester City 3-3 in a game that City were lucky to get a point. In late November, Bolton salvaged a point against Fulham at Craven Cottage (a team that beat Manchester United 3-0 at the same ground). And so on.
The reality is that it wasn’t the results that sacked Gary Megson. It was the supporters. Megson fell out of favor with the supporters and openly criticized them. And that may have been a major factor in the final decision by the Bolton chairman Phil Gartside.
Watch Megson’s post-match interview above, which was sadly his last one as manager of Bolton Wanderers.
As I said at the beginning of this article, Bolton is the least desirable club in the Premier League to manage at. One, it has never been a fashionable club. Two, the supporters have higher expectations than they should because they’ve been spoiled by Sam Allardyce’s past successes. Three, the club has a track record of playing a certain brand of football that isn’t endearing to club managers or footballers.
The sad thing is that I can expect a few managers to turn down the position before someone takes it. Whoever walks into this club as the next Bolton manager needs to be someone with a steely character and something to prove. It’s not going to be easy to find someone but they’re out there.