Just over a year ago; when Neil Lennon was appointed as the new manager of Bolton Wanderers, the Northern Irishman was riding the crest of a wave as his Trotters side were getting back on track. Oh, how things can change in football!
Proceedings at the Macron Stadium have since turned sour under the stewardship of Lennon. Bolton are sliding towards League One following Saturday’s defeat at the hands of table-toppers Burnley on home soil.
Despite taking the lead in the encounter through Liam Feeney’s close-range effort mid-way through the second-half, Sean Dyche’s Clarets responded with a late brace from top goalscorer Andre Gray, as Bolton’s troubles deepened.
Defeat at the weekend did not see Bolton cut adrift in their battle to remain in the second-tier; but from a personal point of view, I have resigned myself to relegation, as Bolton are currently 23rd in the table, having obtained 25 points from 34 games played – seven points from safety.
The dire straights that the club find themselves embroiled in; both on and off the field of play, have undoubtedly had a significant effect on what manager Lennon can achieve during his tenure in the North West.
Bolton’s financial struggles have meant that Lennon hasn’t had the resources that his predecessors were able to enjoy, but with the Greater Manchester outfit on the brink of new ownership, the former Celtic favourite may be battling to keep his job.
Having seemingly gone on a bit of a revival in previous weeks, the tide has seemed to have turned – supporters are now vocally on the back of the manager for the first time since he took the job on. There is a sense that Bolton are now at a crossroads in an attempt to salvage their own longevity.
Admittedly; financial implications that have rocked Bolton off the pitch has made Lennon’s job even more problematic than first anticipated, but results have been unacceptable throughout this dismal campaign, leading to questions being raised as to whether he is the right man for the club?
Since replacing Dougie Freedman in the dugout back in October 2014, Lennon has had it tough. The 44-year-old had to cope with the loss of 15 senior players in a severe summer reshuffle, missing out on key transfer targets, and an under performing squad.
I found a rather alarming statistic about Lennon’s time at Bolton – his 76 games to date have resulted in just 18 victories, along with 25 draws, and 33 defeats – a poor record which hasn’t helped with Wanderers yet to register maximum points on their travels since April last year – Bolton have also only recorded four wins all term, and that form alone has raised concern.
The Sports Shield consortium; headed by former Bolton forward, Dean Holdsworth, agreed a £7.5m takeover for the once top-flight stalwarts last Monday, subject to Football League approval.
Should Holdsworth’s group complete the deal, then Neil Lennon could potentially be looking nervously over his shoulder, as speculation mounts regarding his future, in the lead up to the boardroom changes. If the takeover is successful, then decisions will have to be made immediately regarding the future of boss Lennon, in what could ultimately define what league Bolton are competing in come the start of August.
Rumours continue to persist that former Bolton defender, and current Southend United manager, Phil Brown, is a target for the proposed new owners if the takeover is ratified – that is at the moment, a big if – complications in the matter are yet to be resolved.
Brown; who also served as assistant manager to Sam Allardyce between 1999-2005, has forged his own career in a top job – leading Hull City and Southend United to promotions. On the whole; the general consensus is that should a managerial change be implemented, Brown would be a popular choice amongst supporters. But only time will tell which preferred route will be taken.
Sports Shield still have some work to do if they are to take complete control of the ownership from Eddie Davies, as they must ensure they have the financial muscle to keep the side solvent, or face a 12-point deduction.
An adjourned court case that prevented a winding-up provided time for the consortium to iron out any formalities. However time is running out though.
Lennon arrived at Bolton having won every domestic trophy there is to win during a prolonged stay as a player and a gaffer with the Hoops; though the challenge he walked into at the Championship strugglers has even surpassed his own expectations, and sadly, in what could have been a clever move for all parties, has spiralled beyond control, through recent events. Who knows what the future holds!