MANY Wanderers fans are viewing the next managerial appointment as the most important in the club’s recent history.

Relegated to League Two and laid vulnerable by the coronavirus pandemic, the pressure on Bolton’s ownership to recruit a person that can not only stop the club’s decline but to get it moving back up the league, is considerable.

So as Wanderers continue talks with candidates today, we examine some of the key issues which will be facing Football Ventures as they make their decision on Keith Hill’s successor.


Wanderers have sussed out what it would cost to prize their top options away from other clubs, and anyone with a proven promotion track record in League Two will not be cheap.

It is reported that Plymouth Argyle’s Ryan Lowe would cost £200,000 if he agreed to come back to the North West, with six-figure price tags also attached to Barrow’s Ian Evatt, Swindon’s Richie Wellens, Shrewsbury’s Sam Ricketts and Bristol City’s Dean Holden.

Thus far, Wanderers have not made any official approach for someone in employment. But such are the dark arts of the recruitment process, that does not necessarily mean there has not been indirect contact with the candidates at the very top of their list.

Could someone make a good enough case to tempt them into paying compensation? Only time will tell. But it is also fair to say that the Bolton job has attracted plenty of interest from those out of work. Some familiar names such as Simon Grayson, Chris Powell, Gary Bowyer, Nigel Clough and Paul Heckingbottom are understood to have applied, giving those in charge some serious food for thought.

David Lee is another option who must surely warrant serious consideration, having moulded many of the club’s young talents in the last decade as part of the academy.

Many supporters are championing experience above all else as Wanderers look for a man to guide them out of the muck and nettles in League Two. But does an older candidate fit in with the proposed shift in coaching culture at the club?


Given what we know of Tobias Phoenix’s role at Bolton, he will have a big say in football decisions from here on in. And while that relationship did not look comfortable when layered on top of an existing incumbent in Keith Hill, the new man should have a better idea of how things will work.

Whether the incoming manager is billed as ‘a manager’ or labelled a ‘head coach’ we are yet to find out, but suggestion that he will surrender all aspects of recruitment to those above are probably a little far-fetched.

Wanderers have hinted in the past that they may go down the same structural route as Brentford but the analytic-heavy approach is known to be expensive and does involve a high turnover of players. Can it realistically be brought in this summer at a club under an embargo and financially vulnerable to the effects of a global pandemic?

The next person in the hotseat must reflect the new structure that Football Ventures wish to implement and be happy with the division of labour next season.


After a few years of unprecedented turmoil at Wanderers, followed by the Covid-19 nightmare, supporters are desperate to see some stability restored and a future mapped out for their club. But making an appointment that creates a buzz among the supporters feels more important now than it ever has done.

Plans have been drawn up for football to return in September with limited crowds, which means that by the next time they go out on the pitch, six months will have passed since Wanderers were last in competitive action. During that time, the club will have to work hard to keep people’s attention. Apathy could yet be their biggest enemy during the lockdown.

Though Wanderers cannot afford to allow the appointment to become a popularity contest, they will be acutely aware of which names will be readily embraced, and those which will require some explanation.

You need only to think back to the PR nightmare that was Gary Megson’s appointment in 2007 to see how an underwhelming reaction to a new manager can get things off on the wrong foot.

In the same week as he was confirmed as Sammy Lee’s successor Megson had received just three per cent of the vote in a straw poll by The Bolton News, eclipsed by the likes of Steve Bruce, Graeme Souness and Chris Coleman.

Wanderers would argue that their decision to go for the pragmatic former West Brom boss was substantiated when he led them to Premier League safety. But his low-key launch led to a continual struggle for acceptance on the terraces and eventually to outright antipathy.

The club can ill-afford their new man to get off on the wrong foot as Megson did back then, and they will also need to ensure that he can quickly get hearts and minds onside.


With a major restructure of the academy and football department on the cards Wanderers have a unique chance to press the reset button this summer.

This will be their eighth manager in 13 years and during that time there has seldom been a real thread running through from youth team to senior level.

If younger players are to be fast-tracked to the senior set-up, forgoing the Under-23s level which has been the ‘pit-stop’ for the last decade, the club need to bring in a manager who can align the two halves of the club.

Whereas the onus has been exclusively on the first team in the last few years as they battled for survival in the Championship and League One, this season represents a chance for Wanderers to put in place some proper foundations.


Even though the PFA remain staunchly against salary capping it seems there will be some semblance of spending control coming into the lower leagues for the 2020/21 campaign.

Wanderers also remain under a transfer embargo until next summer and cannot spend money on transfer or loan fees.

Whomever comes through the front door at the UniBol this summer needs to do so with their eyes open. They inherit a squad of 10 professional players – pending this week’s retained list – so have scope to shape things before the start of next season but will not have a massive budget.

If salary capping comes in, Bolton may consider it advantageous as their facilities and fanbase should be an attractive lure, even if the money on offer in League Two is restricted. Can a new manager help attract the best bargains among the 1,400 who are out of contract?


If things go according to plan, Bolton could be back in action in less than three months.

A new manager will have to be able to hit the ground running and have an idea of the players he will need, as well as those he can sign on a free transfer or loan.

Most clubs are looking to return to the training ground by late-July, so there won’t be much time for him to acclimatise.

Connections are always important in football but perhaps more so in a transfer embargo where a manager may need to call in some favours from the top clubs.


Press relations and interview skills may have been deemed rather inconsequential in the past but in these days of video press conferences, podcasts, social media and 24/7 news, the club’s outward appearance starts with the man in the dugout.

Keith Hill’s shoot-from-the-hip style did not sit well with the club’s ownership at times, and so those issues might come into their thinking when appointing his successor.