Date: 21st April 2009 at 12:13pm
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The end of the season approaches. Bolton are eleven points better off and several place higher than at this time last year. Gary Megson`s done alright hasn`t he?

A quick perusal of the figures might lead to that conclusion, but a closer examination reveals there`s a bit more to it than that. Megson gleaned 32 points from 28 games last season. This time it`s 37 points from 33. His points per game ratio is worse now, than it was then. The crucial difference is not the current manager, but Sammy Lee, whose ten game tenure in the last campaign yielded just five points.

The other statistics don`t make for cheerful reading either. Only West Brom have lost more Premier League games than Bolton, and they`re bottom of the table. In 35 competitive games the Whites have lost 20 times, including a reverse to League One Northampton.

With five games to go, fifty goals have already been conceded. Thirty-one of them away from home – a rate of nearly two per game. Only West Brom and Stoke have fared worse in that respect on their travels.

At the other end, things aren`t that great either. On the face of it the 39 goals scored so far is roughly comparable to other seasons, but the goals tend to come in bunches. In fifteen of 33 league games, Bolton have failed to score.

At least his transfer dealings have been ok, right? Er, no. Gary Cahill and Matt Taylor have proved to be astute purchases. The same can`t be said for this season`s newcomers. Johan Elmander, Fabrice Muamba, Riga, Ebi Smolarek, Sebasten Puygrenier, Ariza Makukula and Mark Davies haven`t succeeded.

It could be argued that Smolarek and Riga haven`t had sufficient opportunity, but the counter point of view, that they`re not physically equipped to deal with football in the Premiership, is also valid. Maybe Elmander, Muamba and Davies will come good in future, but if the bookies are banking on anyone placing bets on that, they`ll be in for as lean a time as the rest of credit-crunch Britain.

So how about results against the top teams? Played eight, won none, drawn none, lost eight. In fact, Megson`s side haven`t gained a single point against any of the top six and have never looked like believing that they could, so no comfort to be drawn there.

Things looked to have improved briefly in November. Results and performances were better and Megson`s manager of the month award was deserved. But apart from the home game against Portsmouth, those levels haven`t been matched since, leading to the conclusion that that period was a mere aberration.

At a club like Bolton, crippled by caution, the Ginger One will still be in a job at the Reebok next season. He shouldn`t be. The best that can hoped for under him, is to narrowly avoid relegation. It`s not a mouth watering prospect.

Megson`s contribution shouldn`t be discounted. Sam Allardyce left behind a small, ageing, demoralised squad that had been in relegation form for months. His departure left the structure of the club in tatters. Sammy Lee`s well intentioned efforts didn`t improve matters. To end last season still in the top flight was no mean feat.

If Megson were to step down at the end of the season, he would eventually get credit for that. If he remains, the fear is that he will lead the Whites to a crushing exit from the Premier League, that will take years to recover from. A more inspirational candidate is needed.

 

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