Date: 8th May 2007 at 2:27pm
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Getting rid of your manager is an odd thing to do with one game of the season to go, but given Freddy Shepherd`s record on appointments it`s hardly surprising. The pattern is always the same. Appoint rubbish manager. Give him lots to spend. Then sack him.

This time things may be different this time if speculation about Big Sam`s appointment is to be believed. Or will they?

It`s customary that the new appointee is doing better than the person he replaced. In Allardyce`s case this isn`t so. In 2007, Bolton have won just four league games, taken sixteen points from a possible forty-eight and are conceding two goals a game. In the same period Newcastle have also won four and have gained one more point than the Trotters. In both cases, it`s relegation form over an extended period.

Regular visitors to the Reebok will have noticed the change in Allardyce`s demeanour since the New Year. The overcoat-clad figure prowling the touchline, bellowing to anyone within earshot has gone, and been replaced by a disconsolate figure, with hands in pockets who looks as if he has no ideas on how to arrest his team`s slide. His assertion that he needed a break from football was entirely believable.

Until Fat Freddy stuck his oar in.

That Shepherd should try this sort of opportunism (or oppor-toon-ism, ho ho) is no surprise, but was Allardyce complicit all along? If he was, then as a prominent member of the League Managers Association, he should be ashamed at a move which involved removing a colleague, just so that he could have the job.

Of course the speculation may be groundless. The close sources that are spoken of in the press may be waiters on a Spanish beach who are serving Sam pina coladas. It is to be hoped so.

Back in Bolton, the first team is a mess. The defence is a shambles, there are gaping holes in midfield, the strikers don`t pass the ball to each other and morale is on the floor. The UEFA spot that should have been sealed weeks ago is in danger of slipping away. Would you really want to appoint the man who left his previous club in such a state?


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