IN a decade as a player with Wanderers, Kevin Davies saw both extremes of managerial fortune.

From Europe and top-six finishes in the Premier League, to the ignominy of relegation and bitter Championship fall-out, the former England international can recall good times and bad in a Bolton shirt.

He is hoping, however, that the next manager who sets foot in the University of Bolton Stadium does so with the confidence they can lead the club back up the leagues once again after a dark chapter in its recent history ended with relegation to League Two.

Davies believes the club’s owners will have learned lessons from the short reign of Keith Hill and David Flitcroft last season, and while he has some sympathy with the Boltonian pair, he believes their lack of success underlines how crucial the next appointment will be.

“I always think it’s the biggest decision any football club can make,” he told The Bolton News.

“You’d like to think Bolton couldn’t fall any further but it’s a dangerous thing to predict. I know my old club Chesterfield dropped out of the league and found it really hard to get back in.

“You see it with Sunderland in League One as well. It isn’t just about the size of the club, it has to be organised. The manager has to be the right fit.

“Bolton will go into League Two expecting promotion but it won’t be easy. It’s a long time since I played at that level but I can see the likes of Barrow rubbing their hands at the thought of causing an upset.

“That is why this decision is so crucial. The person they put in there needs to know what they are getting into.”

Between 2003 and 2013 Davies played under five permanent managers – Sam Allardyce, Sammy Lee, Gary Megson, Owen Coyle and Dougie Freedman.

And Davies believes in each case it was easy to tell early on whether they were the right fit for the club.

“I experienced both sides of it with Bolton,” he said. “Obviously, Sam was a massive success and was already doing well when I came in.

“Owen Coyle came in and said the right things, got people on his side, made them feel great. Okay there were sides of his management that were not as good, but he had everyone on board.

“But then there were great coaches who just didn’t take to management. I think you know who I am on about.

“And some that just ripped the soul out of the club. I’ll leave it there.

“I think we all wanted the last two (Hill and Flitcroft) to succeed. They were local, they obviously cared about the club, but it just didn’t work.

“You need someone in charge who comes across professionally. And though I get what they were saying about how difficult it was, the injuries and all that. I didn’t think it looked good doing interviews with a bottle (of water) in your hand.

“We’re all built differently but some of the things he said just rubbed fans up the wrong way.”

Wanderers have made no official comment on the timeframe for their manager search but Davies believes they will use what is left of the month to assess their options before 1,400 free agents come on to the market this summer.

“I’d like to think they will speak to people who are out of contract and get their thoughts on the job and then look at the ones in a job and do their homework,” he said.

“You need to know how they are on the training ground, what their record is like, what sort of football they play, how they are with other staff around the club.

“Bolton have got a bit of time now, and you’d think with players coming out of contract at the end of the month that they will want someone to come in and cherry pick the better ones.”

Inevitably, former Bolton players like Sam Ricketts, David Lee and Dean Holden have been linked strongly with the job – and Davies feels that someone with Wanderers connections could potentially have a better chance to hit the ground running.

“I think you need a manager who understands the club and it is easier if you have played there or worked there,” he said.

“I don’t think a former player is the be-all and end-all but it can help to bring things back together and connect with people that bit quicker.

“I know that when that happens at Bolton it’s an amazing place to work.

“Right now it feels like the club has had its heart ripped out, so it needs stitching together a little bit.”