After using just 18 players in a season that ended with a whimper here yesterday, Megson offered a stark assessment of the future.
“With the three loan players we are letting go, we are left with a squad that would get relegated,” he said. “We have to improve it. We have no choice. This season I have used 18 players, including Chris Basham, who went on loan to Rochdale and wasn’t deemed to be good enough there. Now we have to look at a slightly more expensive way forward. It has to be done.”
His opposite number Mark Hughes will be bidding in an altogether different arena.
Confirmation of a record shirt sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways for the next three seasons offers further proof of a club moving forward. And, while the massive change involved in the takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group last summer offered a reasonable excuse, another 10th-placed finish will not be tolerated. “There is no reason why we should not hit the ground running next season,” Hughes observed.
“I would be disappointed if that was not the case because everyone knows what I am about now.
“The whole process of change has taken longer than I anticipated but I believe challenging for a top-six place is a realistic target.”
Felipe Caicedo took just eight minutes to score the winner, finishing off a neat bit of improvisation from player of the year Stephen Ireland, whose astute pass was steered into the South American’s path by Micah Richards.
MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): Given 6, Richards 6, Onuoha 6, Dunne 7, Bridge 6 (Berti 84, 5), De Jong 6, Ireland 7 (Weiss 71, 5), Kompany 6 (Zabaleta 82, 5), Wright-Phillips 8, Caicedo 6, Robinho 7.
Subs Not Used: Hart, Bojinov, Petrov, Mwaruwari.
BOLTON (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen 7, Steinsson 6, Cahill 6, Shittu 5 (A O’Brien 83, 6), Samuel 5, M Davies 6, Muamba 6, McCann 6, Taylor 5 (Basham 59, 5), Elmander 6 (Riga 83, 5), K Davies 5.
Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Hunt, Puygrenier, Cohen.
REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear) 7: The only man from Newcastle to have enjoyed a decent afternoon.
MATCH RATING: ** Pretty one-sided.