KEITH Andrews insists Owen Coyle has the full backing of the dressing room – even though he accepts Wanderers’ latest failure has done him no favours at all.
By the Irishman’s own admission, his manager has never looked so crestfallen as he did leaving the corridors of The Den to speak to the assembled press on Saturday afternoon.
Some feel the defeat could be a telling blow to Coyle’s chances of clinging on to his job at the Reebok, others that it illustrates why he should have been removed well before this latest defeat.
But the Glaswegian also has his supporters and, crucially, Andrews feels that the backing of the Wanderers players should buy their manager some time to turn things round.
“The manager is in there saying that the buck stops with him but I certainly don’t see it that way,” he told The Bolton News.
“He’s under no illusion. When we are in the position we are in, it’s the manager that tends to get stuck with it, and so it’s him they tend to change. I’m sure the owner is looking at it and probably wishing he could change a dozen players, but he can’t because of the way the football world is.
“I sincerely hope they stick with the manager because I feel he’s the man to take us through this. “His passion and his determination is there for all to see.”
Wanderers have won just three of 11 games in all competitions this season and dropped into 18th position with their defeat in South East London.
It’s all a far cry from the pre-season billing of promotion favourites, and Andrews cannot argue with criticism from supporters who are still smarting from last season’s relegation from the Premier League.
“I totally understand the fans’ frustration and I agree with it to a large extent,” he said.
“After being relegated last season the manager has kept the nucleus of the squad and the chairman and the owner have been very fair backing him in what he wants to do. But we are not performing at the moment. “We are not where we should be.”
Chris Eagles turned from hero to villain after equalising in the second half, then missing a penalty to put his side in front.
The midfielder had been taunted by the home support all day, and, after suffering yet more goading as he lined up the spot kick, Andrews admits his team-mate did appear distracted as he prepared to shoot from 12 yards.
“One of their players has got in his ear a little bit,” he said. “That was unsportsmanlike behaviour, really.
“I hope Chris will learn from it. “He’s a special player, certainly at this level, and when he gets going people will try and put him off his game.”