Football: Evans in the wings as Todd leaves Bolton

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The Independent Online
COLIN TODD quit as Bolton Wanderers' manager yesterday, with Roy Evans ready to answer the call to return to football as his replacement.

Todd left just as the midfielder Per Frandsen was being sold to Bolton's neighbours Blackburn Rovers in a pounds 1.75m deal that made his patience snap after losing a number of his best players. The Danish international joins Alan Thompson, Nathan Blake and Arnar Gunnlaugsson on the exit road.

Bolton needed the transfer fees and also had to get the wages off their pay-roll as a Premier League dream ended last season, blighted by the failure to sell their old Burnden Park ground. Ironically, Bolton have just come in for a belated pounds 6m windfall with the sale of their old site to the Co-op. Although even that sum will barely balance the books.

The signs were that Todd would not get any of the cash to spend as the board wanted a fresh start after his three-and-a-year stint in charge. Todd hinted at his frustration when he said: "Naturally I'm disappointed because I felt the club could have gone further without the financial constraints that have held back my personal ambitions."

Todd has been in sole charge of two relegation teams, one promotion run and a Wembley play-off failure. He was previously assistant to Bruce Rioch in the club's rise from the doldrums and then joint manager with Roy McFarland for a short spell. However, the last year has been dogged by the club's failure to sell their old ground. They had hoped to raise pounds 12m, but eventually had to settle for much less.

Bolton have been left with the contrast of the impressive Reebok Stadium and a squad weakened by an endless stream of departures. Their financial state is poor and their chairman, Gordon Hargreaves, even had to deny that they faced bankruptcy.

Finding a replacement for Todd in those circumstances will be difficult. Bolton are at the wrong end of the table with few signs of recovery.

Bolton will offer the former Liverpool manager Evans a quick return to football while their old manager Rioch, now cash-strapped at Norwich City, will also have his supporters. Evans is waiting on the call after almost a year out since his Anfield double act with Gerard Houllier ended. There could even be an emotional move for John McGinlay, their former striker, to come back as a coach as a fillip for the fans.

The departure of Frandsen, the team's most consistent player over the last two seasons, looks to have been the final straw for Todd, who said: "I have had seven very enjoyable years, during which time the club has made significant progress and recruited high-quality players. My sincere wish is that Bolton Wanderers continue to move in the right direction."

The first-team coach Phil Brown has taken over team affairs on a temporary basis. The striker Dean Holdsworth said yesterday: "It's a bit of a shock and not a nice one. To lose two people who are making such a big impact on the club in one day, in Colin Todd and Per Frandsen, is a big blow.

"The gaffer has not fallen out with any of the players. He was tremendous. He always stuck by his beliefs with the players," Holdsworth added. "I really don't think it's a football matter; it's a financial matter. I think he had to sell Per Frandsen; he was backed into a corner. You don't want to keep selling your best players and I think in the end he took a stance."

Hargreaves said: "This club is still geared financially for Premiership football and we have to address that situation and bring it into line with Division One status before we can mount a renewed challenge."

Frandsen agreed to join Blackburn for an initial pounds 1.75m - a fee which could rise to pounds 2.25m based on appearances. The 29-year-old midfielder has signed a four-year contract. Capped at all levels by Denmark and a member of their World Cup squad in 1998, he joined Bolton from FC Copenhagen in August 1996 and helped them to win promotion to the Premiership in his first season. The Dane played in more than 130 senior games for the club and scored 17 goals.

Frandsen said: "This is a great move for me in every respect. Rovers are a big club with big ambitions and the goal now is to get back into the Premiership as quickly as possible."

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