Bolton Wanderers, following last week’s departure of Keith Hill, are currently seeking a new manager. However, their owners are expected to take their time, as they try to rebuild the club. One name has emerged as a strong favourite, but could there be a surprise choice?
Bolton Wanderers to Take Time in Manager Hunt
Bolton Fans Witnessed a Dramatic Decline
For the past few seasons, Bolton have been a crisis club. A decade ago, they proudly mixed with the likes of Liverpool and the two Manchester clubs. Sadly, their Premiership days are a distant memory, as they face next season in the lowest tier of the EFL, where the likes of Barrow will be among their fixtures.
Since 2016, the club have been taken over twice. Last season, a 12-point deduction and even a threatened expulsion from the EFL left their supporters in further despair. Now, the club is hoping to rebuild from the bottom. To do this, they first need a manager.
SkyBet, who sponsor the EFL, have compiled their list of potential candidates. One name is prominent, but others could be more likely.
A strong outright favourite with SkyBet is Ryan Lowe, who is the current Plymouth Argyle manager. There could be some substance in these rumours, as Lowe’s family is based in the North West.
Plymouth have just been promoted to League One; ironically, they are replacing Bolton. Coincidentally, Lowe won promotion to League One in 2018/19 with Bury FC. Within weeks, he switched to Plymouth, who had been replaced in League One by Bury.
However, this is a very different situation, as Bury were in such a mess that it subsequently led to their EFL expulsion.
Even this week, Lowe has been enthusing over his preparations for Plymouth’s return to League One. There could also be an issue with compensation, as Lowe has two years left on his Plymouth contract.
Candidates Who Fit a Similar Profile
Bolton are reportedly looking for a young manager, who could stay long-term at the club. While Lowe fits this description, there are other notable alternatives.
One such man is Ian Evatt, who is the current manager of Barrow. They were confirmed as the National League champions this week, a decision that carries automatic promotion to the EFL.
Could Evatt leave for Bolton?
Obviously, Bolton Wanderers are a much bigger cub, but one can only imagine the hero-worshipping that Evatt must be experiencing in Barrow at present.
Shrewsbury Town boss Sam Ricketts is another younger manager linked with the Bolton role. Ricketts joined Shrewsbury in December 2018 from Wrexham. A few days ago, Shrewsbury said that there had been no approach from Bolton for Ricketts.
Further down the bookmaker’s list is Richie Wellens, who is the current manager of Swindon Town. Last week’s vote to end the League Two season early means that Swindon are promoted as divisional champions. Wellens, like Lowe, would be swapping promotion for at least another season in the fourth tier.
Former Bolton Players in Contention
Other possibilities mentioned include several former Bolton players.
One of these is David Lee, who is Bolton’s U23s coach. Between 1992 – 1997, he played over 150 games for Bolton, becoming a fans’ favourite.
Unfortunately, Lee could soon be out of work, as Bolton have axed their U23 side. To remain at Bolton, he requires a new role somewhere within the club’s restructure.
Another ex-Wanderers player is Kevin Nolan, who gained enormous respect during his two EFL managerial roles. In January 2016, he took over at Leyton Orient. At the time, they were another club seemingly in crisis. He won seven of his 15 games as player-manager. This steadied the O’s towards a League Two play-off position before he was surprisingly “removed” as manager.
Next, he went to Notts County. Having lost in the 2017/18 play-offs, his Notts County side struggled during the opening games of the following season. Nolan paid the price, as County hastily sacked him – a decision that perhaps they later regretted, for they ended the season relegated from the EFL.
More Experienced Contenders
Sometimes, age can often bring experience. Therefore, it would seem daft of Bolton to completely close their mind to a more experienced manager.
Stand-out contenders among this group include Gary Bowyer, who is very familiar with Lancashire clubs in crisis. He managed both Blackburn Rovers and Blackpool during some of their more recent turbulent histories.
Neil Warnock, who is linked to every vacancy, is inevitably among the bookie’s odds. As is Nigel Clough, who last month left Burton Albion.