NEW Whites owner Dean Holdsworth yesterday rung the changes at the Macron Stadium — making what he said was a "difficult decision" to part ways with manager Neil Lennon.

Bolton announced that the Northern Irishman had left the club by mutual consent — just five days after Holdsworth's Sports Shield consortium completed its takeover.

Lennon had endured a stormy 17-month reign that finished with Wanderers sitting bottom of the Championship having recorded just four wins all season.

Wanderers said Lennon would be replaced in the short-term by academy manager Jimmy Phillips a former teammate of Holdsworth.

Speaking exclusively to The Bolton News, the club's new chief executive Holdsworth said the decision to part ways had not been made lightly.

He said: “It’s always a difficult decision to make. But we felt it was the right conclusion.

“We wish Neil well in the future. It has not been an easy time for anyone connected with Bolton Wanderers but right now we are looking towards the future and we need everyone behind us.

“The club finds itself in a tough situation, we can’t hide from that, but we are fully behind Jimmy Phillips and delighted he has taken up the offer to take the team on for the foreseeable future.”

Wanderers face dropping into League One for the first time since 1993 and currently sit 11 points from safety in the relegation zone with nine games remaining.

The decision to appoint Phillips – who has been in charge of the club’s academy since 2008 – was made with a view to bringing more of the younger players through in the next few weeks.

Holdsworth hopes fans embrace the change, even though relegation looks to be on the cards.

He added: “What we need now is for the fans to get 100 per cent behind the badge. This is a difficult transitional period for the club but we need to all pull together and support Jimmy and the team between now and the end of the season — 100 per cent.”

It is understood some senior players could now follow Lennon out of the door at the Macron, with Jay Spearing and Liam Feeney thought to be heading out on loan.

Former Whites stars last night said results on the pitch cost the manager his job.

But Wanderers legends such as Sam Allardyce, John McGinlay and Kevin Davies acknowledged the difficult task Lennon faced amid all the turmoil off the pitch.

Lennon had been in charge since October 2014 and presided over 79 games — but won just 18.

His success ration — just under 23 per cent — ranks him as the least successful Whites manager of those who have stayed for more than 50 matches.

The former Celtic boss made a positive impact on his arrival at the Macron and helped guide the club to safety in his first season.

But while the current campaign has been characterised by financial problems and courtroom battles, Lennon's results on the pitch have also been poor.

Bookmakers have made Southend manager and former Whites captain Phil Brown the favourite to take over in the long term.

Many Whites fans would love to see Big Sam back in the hot seat at the Macron and the current Sunderland manager said he was shocked to see Lennon go so soon after the takeover.

He said: “I’m a bit surprised but I suppose we have a new generation now with the new takeover.

“Neil’s results have clearly not been as good as he would have liked or as people would have expected and as a manager you pay the price for that, so I do understand why it has happened."

On the prospect of Phil Brown taking over, Big Sam added: “I can certainly see that as an option — he loves Bolton as much as I do.

“I think Phil would be a good fit with the club and with Dean Holdsworth — I think they would work well together.”

Former Whites skipper Kevin Davies said Lennon’s results meant his departure was inevitable.

He said: “I think ultimately four wins all season and 18 in 80 in total is not good enough really.

“Perhaps this means the new owners still think there is an outside chance of fighting off relegation this season, although that will be very difficult.

“It has been a difficult tenure for Neil Lennon under tricky circumstances but his job is to get a team out that can win matches and as I say it hasn’t been good enough and he and the players have to hold their hands up.”

Another former star striker John McGinlay had sympathy for the Northern Irishman, adding: “The job that was described to Neil Lennon was never there — I think he managed with handcuffs on since the first day he came in.

“People on the outside don’t realise what he was up against and I do feel a bit sorry for him — I would have like to have seen what he could have done if circumstances were different.”