The galvanising effect of a new manager coming in to a club is well known, if not reflected in performances and results every time. But what of a manager leaving for higher things? The Football Association, by announcing the appointment of Roy Hodgson, the West Bromwich Albion manager, as the next occupant of the England hotseat may have handed Albion's last two opponents this season an advantage because of the uncertainty over the club's future manager.
At least Bolton Wanderers, who are embroiled in a nail-biting relegation battle with Queens Park Rangers, might hope so. Bolton are 18th, separated by goal difference and 17th-placed Rangers and each have just two games to play. A below-par display by West Bromwich at the Reebok Stadium could have a major impact on the battle to beat the drop.
However, the Bolton manager Owen Coyle does not envisage Hodgson's imminent departure affecting the way Albion play.
"I don't see why it would be a hindrance [to Albion]," Coyle said ahead of today's match at the Reebok against Hodgson's men. "I would love it to be, but I don't see why. They have the England manager now, he is an outstanding man and they have very good players.
"But we have to focus on what we can do at Bolton and make sure we get to our best. If we do that, we have shown that we can win points and win games."
As far as the Bolton captain, Kevin Davies, is concerned, there are few other fixtures that have compared in terms of significance for the club since he joined in 2003 and the 35-year-old forward has stressed the need for Wanderers – who lost 4-1 at home to Tottenham on Wednesday – to give their absolute all.
"Sunday is a huge game for myself, one of the biggest games since I have been here," Davies said. "We know what is required. It is going to take people to stand up and be counted. It is a huge game and we will have to rally round and give everything."
Meanwhile, Hodgson's assistant at Albion, Keith Downing, says the club have targets to achieve this season as they start to prepare for when the manager leaves to take over at England. Hodgson will be in charge of the Baggies final two games of the season – after today they are at home to Arsenal on 13 May – before concentrating full-time on his new post.
But Downing is adamant there are no thoughts of the players winding down for the summer when the search will begin in earnest for Hodgson's successor.
"We've got our own personal goals. We want to finish higher than last year [11th] with more points. We've achieved a lot in the season, with 10 clean sheets, and we want to add to that. There's still stuff to play for. We're three games unbeaten and we also know the importance of the Bolton game – for Bolton in particular. Then we face Arsenal who will want to get into the top three or four to ensure Champions' League football.
"We have two big games coming up and we want to focus on that. It's been a difficult week but, once that whistle blows on Sunday, it's a game of football and everyone is geared to try and win the game."
Had England not come calling, Downing is convinced Hodgson would have stayed at Albion.
"Yes, definitely. We were planning and talking about players in the summer and planning trips abroad so I would have been really surprised if he'd gone. There was no talk about him leaving. It was all about pushing the club on and taking the next step."Reuse content