Date: 2nd March 2009 at 1:34pm
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Bolton`s victory against Newcastle United was tempered for some fans, by news that Gary Megson had signed a new contract with the club, although the word ‘new` may be a misnomer.

‘I haven`t signed a new contract because I`ve been working, up to a week or 10 days ago, without one,` explained the Ginger One.

This is at odds with the two and a half year deal that was widely reported at the time he was appointed and Phil Gartside`s statement, earlier in the day.

‘Gary signed a new contract a couple of weeks ago and we haven`t actually announced it yet,` said the Bolton chairman.

Does Gary Megson, deserve the contract, new or otherwise? On the face of it, the answer is yes. Bolton are eight points better off than they were at this stage last season and sit in mid-table, above big spending outfits like Manchester City, Sunderland, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Spurs.

After the departure of Sam Allardyce, the club was in turmoil with key backroom staff leaving. The hasty managerial appointment of Sammy Lee did nothing to halt those departures. While Allardyce may have led Bolton to another UEFA qualification in his last season, results were wretched from January 2007 onward, with the Whites winning only four games, from then until the end of the season, all of them against bottom six opposition. In addition the games at Middlebrough, Tottenham, Manchester United and West Ham were over before the half-hour mark with the opposition out of sight. Whoever was in charge at the end of that campaign had a major rebuilding job to do.

The following season started disastrously, and Whites fans, who had grown accustomed to life in the upper part of the Premier League were traumatised. Megson`s willingness to tell anyone brandishing a microphone that Bolton had only five points from ten games when he took over may be wearisome, but that doesn`t stop it being true.

On the whole, Megson`s dealings in the transfer market have been satisfactory, give or take the odd Rasiak or two. He may have spent more than any other manager in Bolton`s history, but almost all of that money has been recouped in outgoing fees, and the squad now contains a core of young players who can hopefully take the club forward.

So what`s the beef? Are fans bemoaning the Bolton manager`s continuing presence at the club doing so only because they didn`t want him in the first place? Maybe, but then there`s the standard of football.

Against Newcastle, there were two moves of genuine quality. Ricardo Gardner scored from one of them and Johan Elmander should have finished the other. For the rest of the time the home side were on top, there was a distinct lack of organisation going forward, with players frequently colliding with one and other. The charge that Bolton are too often a collection of individuals rather than a team, is difficult to refute.

Once ahead, a familiar pattern emerged, with the Wanderers surrendering territory and possession. Defending mostly inside the penalty area may be a necessary evil against the more gifted teams, but it shouldn`t be when faced with relegation strugglers.

The performances against the top clubs leave something to be desired too. Allardyce`s record in this respect is overstated (he won 9 out of 48 encounters, with a few hidings on the way) but this season, Megson`s teams have looked beaten before they`ve got on the pitch. It signals a lack of belief, and unless the Ginger One has been unlucky enough to recruit a number of individuals with an inferiority complex, it puts a question mark against his motivational skills.

Like him or loathe him, Gary Megson is here to stay. He has the backing of the club chairman and seemingly the owner, Eddie Davies. While he has an unfortunate foot-in-mouth habit, he comes across as an intelligent and decent individual.

‘I don`t like talking in these times about myself and the situation I am in when there`s two and a half million people in a lot worse position,` he remarked.

Whether that is enough to endear him to the doubters remains to be seen.

 

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