Peter Reid has emerged as the favourite to take the Bolton Wanderers manager's job in the wake of the sacking of Gary Megson, a decision taken to pacify the Bolton supporters who have won their battle to get rid of a manager they never liked.
The former Manchester City, Sunderland and Leeds United manager who is currently working as Tony Pulis' assistant at Stoke City is considered as a safe bet by the club's board who would go down well with Bolton fans. Megson's two years at the club were notable for the hostility with which he was treated by the majority of Bolton supporters.
Reid, 53, is available and has fought relegation battles before, notably keeping Leeds in the Premier League in the 2002-2003 season. His stock has fallen in the game in recent years and his last manager's job was an unlikely stint as manager of the Thailand national team. Crucially Reid would be a popular choice with the supporters who remember fondly his eight years at the club as a player from 1974.
Megson said yesterday that he hoped to be back in a job soon and his conciliatory mood towards Bolton is understood to be a result of him being a major contender for the vacant Sheffield Wednesday manager's job. Megson was a former Wednesday player and has often said that he would like the job. His father Don, captain of the Wednesday team that reached the 1966 FA Cup final, is one of the club's most-revered former players.
Megson, who leaves Bolton 18th with 18 points from 18 games, said last night: "I still want to work again. Despite all the stick I seem to have been getting from Bolton fans I've been delighted that my peers and people who know football seem to say that it's gone okay since I've been there.
"I'm bitterly disappointed to lose my job but I don't think the decision is unfair, they've made it in the best interests for the club. There are 10 clubs in a battle at the bottom of the table but the other nine aren't having to operate under the same conditions and circumstances that we are. I don't want to comment on the spectators.
"The club has made the decision and I have to accept it. It's really disappointing but people have to make their decisions. You stand or fall by those decisions but I hope that Bolton can stay up."
The sacking of Megson was largely a result of the disaffection of the supporters and well-publicised problems with the dressing room: he squared up to the full-back Jlloyd Samuel during a row at half-time of the defeat to Wolves and also fell out with midfielder Matt Taylor. The tense relationship with the fans hit a new low when he criticised them after the 2-2 draw with Hull City on Tuesday for their reaction to his substitution of Ivan Klasnic.
The Bolton chairman Phil Gartside has always been placed in an awkward situation by the attitude of the fans towards Megson, who came in as a replacement for Sammy Lee in October 2007 after Sam Allardyce's successor struggled badly. Graeme Souness was the first choice to be the new manager but he was thought to have objected to elements of the interview process.
The agent Mark Curtis, of whom Megson and Allardyce have been clients, has always worked closely with Gartside and it is thought he will play some role in the appointment of a new manager.
The club have debts of around £50m and are bankrolled by owner Eddie Davies, a local businessman who became a multi-millionaire and is now based in the Isle of Man. Megson lost Nicolas Anelka in his first transfer window in January 2008 and there are suggestions that a big offer for defender Gary Cahill could also persuade the board to sell next month.
Other contenders for the job include Burnley's Owen Coyle and the bookmakers' favourite Paul Jewell. Megson said that his record stood up to scrutiny. He said: "When I came in we looked an absolute certainty for relegation but we managed to stay up, while at the same time taking the club further in Europe than it's ever been.
"There's had to be a lot of change off the field as well as on it. We finished mid-table last year and although we're in the bottom three this year we're only five points off 10th spot. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as manager and worked with some terrific people above me on the board."
Reebok replacement: Bolton contenders
Peter Reid Made 225 appearances for Bolton from 1974-82, currently assistant manager at Stoke. 9-2
Darren Ferguson Guided Peterborough from League Two to the Championship in just two seasons. 9-1
Paul Jewell Has been out of football since leaving Derby in 2008. 11-4
Mark Hughes Proven record in the Premier League with spells at Manchester City and Blackburn. 7-1
Alan Curbishley Has not been in management since leaving West Ham in September 2008. 10-1Reuse content