Megson arrival fails to impress Bolton's fans

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The Independent Online

Gary Megson relishes challenges but as he prepares to take charge of his eighth club in 12 years, the former Sheffield Wednesday and Manchester City player faces his toughest one yet – convincing unimpressed Bolton Wanderers fans that he is the man to steer the team out of trouble.

Megson has walked out of Leicester City after just five weeks in charge and straight into a storm at the Reebok Stadium, with Bolton fans questioning the wisdom of appointing someone with a Premier League record which makes for rather unpleasant reading. Having seen years of good work by Sam Allardyce undermined during Sammy Lee's ill-fated 14-match reign, the Bolton board have opted for a 48-year-old who masterminded just seven wins from 48 matches in the top tier with West Bromwich Albion before he was sacked after falling out with the chairman, Jeremy Peace.

Phil Gartside, the Bolton chairman, is aware that confirmation of the name of Bolton's second manager in six months has received a lukewarm reception among fans, who were expecting somebody with a more impressive Premier League track record.

Paul Jewell, who established Wigan in the top flight and took them to a League Cup final, was linked with the job while Graeme Souness distanced himself from it after an interview with Gartside.

Bolton chose Megson because, according to a club statement yesterday, "he is prepared to roll his sleeves up and has the right temperament for a battle, which this season is undoubtedly going to be".

Megson spent yesterday at the Reebok Stadium and the club's training base at nearby Euxton before taking in last night's Uefa Cup tie with Braga ahead of his official unveiling this afternoon. Gartside will have hoped Megson did not pick up a copy of the Bolton Evening News.

Out of 699 readers who responded to a poll about who they wanted as the next manager, Megson attracted just 12 votes. More than half the fans who took part sent out a message that they did not want any of the candidates on the list, which included the names of Souness and Chris Coleman, by voting for AN Other.

Tony Pearson, chairman of the Bolton Wanderers Supporters' Association, said that Megson needed to win over the fans quickly.

"I don't know whether he has got the kind of profile we were hoping a manager would have," Pearson said. "I think I personally would have been a bit more excited about Paul Jewell.

"I don't think we have any alternative, we have to accept it. Somebody has to take charge of the team. Lets face it, if he gets three points against Aston Villa on Sunday then things might change."

Despite the sense of bewilderment from the fans over his latest choice of manager, Gartside is convinced that Megson is the right man to keep Bolton in the Premier League. It promises to be an interesting start for the man who six weeks ago was coaching behind the scenes at Stoke for free after struggling to find a route back into management.

Games against Manchester United, Liverpool and, in the Uefa Cup, Bayern Munich are on the horizon. Not that Gartside is worried.

"We feel Gary is the right man to take Bolton forward," he said. "We have made decisive decisions over the past few weeks and this is one of them. It is not about me, Gary Megson or any other individual. It is all about Bolton surviving in the Premier League. I have spoken to the staff and the players and we are all committed to get behind Gary and turn our fortunes around."

The man to avoid the drop?

Born: Manchester, 2/5/59

Position: Midfielder

Clubs: Career includes spells at Manchester City, Sheffield Wednesday, Newcastle United, Norwich City and Plymouth Argyle.

Coaching career:

1995-96 Norwich City

1996-97 Blackpool

1997-99 Stockport County

1999 Stoke City

2000-04 West Brom

2005-06 Nottingham Forest

2007 Leicester City

2007- Bolton Wanderers

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