Gary Megson has finally been booted out of Bolton – the only surprise being he lasted as long as he did.
The Bolton faithful, who had been treated to European football and a Carling Cup final under Sam Allardyce, disliked Megson from the moment he was chosen to replace Sammy Lee just over two years ago.
Indeed, there were even anti-Megson demonstrations ahead of his first game in charge, a UEFA Cup tie against Sporting Braga.
That ill-feeling continued right though to his last game in charge, against Hull last night, when a controversial decision to replace goalscorer Ivan Klasnic was followed by an equalising goal from the visitors that ultimately proved to be the last milestone of Megson’s time in charge.
Asked if he thought he could not win over the fans Megson replied: “Yes.
“I make the decision (to take off Klasnic) and it goes down like the Bismarck. Yet I made exactly the same decision against West Ham at 2-1 and we went on to win that one 3-1. No-one says a word.
“I don’t understand the reaction at all. Their reaction is one of ’This would happen, that would happen’.
“Everyone has an opinion but mine has consequences, therefore it becomes a decision.”
Countless times during his reign the man dubbed “Ginger Mourinho” was forced to deflect attention on himself away from the team, insisting the fan reaction was not having an impact.
But chief executive Phil Gartside knew that situation was unsustainable over the long-term and, after tossing away a two-goal lead at the Reebok Stadium last night, has decided to act.
Gartside clearly wants to give Megson’s replacement an opportunity to exploit whatever bargains may be available during the transfer window and provide the best possible chance to avoid a financially catastrophic and drop into the Championship.
Megson becomes the third Premier League boss to lose his job this season, and the second in less than a fortnight following Mark Hughes’ exit from Manchester City, and Darren Ferguson has quickly been installed as one of the favourites to replace him.
However, whether chairman Phil Gartside would place his trust in someone who has no Premier League experience is open to question given Bolton’s current plight.
Although Megson has twice steered the Trotters to safety, they failed to escape the bottom three last night and with trips to Arsenal and Sunderland looming in a crucial seven-day period that starts with an FA Cup encounter with Lincoln at the weekend.
Paul Jewell, who had a successful stint at nearby Wigan and was successful in keeping Bradford in the Premier League, might be viewed as a better bet given the circumstances, while Gareth Southgate, Alan Curbishley and Steve Coppell are all highly-rated and currently out of work.
Of those in jobs, Burnley’s Owen Coyle is a former Bolton player, while Allardyce himself is bound to be mentioned among Trotters supporters, even if a return to old haunts is somewhat implausible.
Assistant manager Chris Evans and first-team coach Steve Wigley will take temporary charge, although whether Gartside appoints either man on a full-time basis is unlikely given the disaster that unfolded when he appointed Lee from Allardyce’s backroom team.