Trotting From One not so Irish Irishman to Another

Owen Coyle was today sacked as manager of Bolton Wanderers after more than two and a half years at the club. Chairman Phil Gartside said that it is “the right time for a change”, with most Bolton fans on Twitter seeming to agree. “Fresh start & a new approach is what we need most. Time to put the last 18 months behind us” commented @sinnott1808, whilst @DominosBolton reassured fans with “Just to clarify we will stick to making delicious pizzas and won’t be taking the Bolton Job”.

The Next Bolton Manager market was on bookmakers’ sites within minutes, with ex-Wolves and Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy heavy favourite immediately. Initial offerings of 3/1 were devoured by eager punters and he’s now odds-on with many firms, BoyleSports and Paddy Power offering a standout 6/5. McCarthy would seem to be a perfect fit – an Irishman with a dry wit, and more importantly a track record of winning the Championship (with Sunderland in 2005 and Wolves in 2009). He’s clearly interested in returning to management after having talks with the new Nottingham Forest owners over the summer and is worthy favourite.

Next in the market is the ‘baby-faced assassin’ Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, the current Molde manager. An impressive start to his managerial career has seen him linked with a move to the Premier League already and he held negotiations with Aston Villa over their vacant position this summer. His reason for turning them down could similarly hinder a move now – he stated his desire to keep his family settled after they returned to Norway from Manchester, where he was Reserve Team coach at United. That said, the bookmakers may know something we don’t as he is now available at a best price of only 5/2 with BetVictor having opened at 20/1 earlier in the day.

Of the other contenders, interim manager Sammy Lee is widely available at 16/1; his failure to step up to the managerial plate in 2007 following the departure of Big Sam Allardyce makes this price seem very short. Alex McLeish is a best price of 12/1 with bet365 and this too feels like a short price for a manager whose stock is currently low. A more natural fit would seem to be Billy Davies, a man who knows the Championship inside out after spells with Preston, Derby and Nottingham Forest. Bolton’s reported £110m debt means whoever comes in will surely have to work within tight budgetary constraints, and Davies’ past experiences, especially with Forest, will stand him in good shape. 20/1 with Paddy Power seems more than reasonable.

In terms of longshots, Darren Ferguson seems big at 80/1 with BetVictor if his recent comments about Barry Fry engender a response from the board. Similarly ex-Bolton striker Dean Holdsworth jumps out at the same price with the same firm if a youthful figure is preferred. The final word, however, will be left to the worst bet you are likely to see for some time – 250/1 for Amir Khan to be next Bolton manager. Unbelievable.

Jonnie Barnett


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