The Bolton News:

NATHAN Blake saw more ups and downs than most players in a 16-year professional career which also brought 30 caps for Wales.

He earned three promotions with Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Wolves but – in a statistic which tends to get quoted at him more often than he would like – he was also involved in a record five different Premier League relegations.

Blake argues that you have to sample the hard times to appreciate the good, and that may also be true of the managers he played under.

“People are always throwing that relegation thing at me,” he laughed. “But honestly I don’t mind because I am sitting here talking now having had the chance to get promoted three times.

“I have two promotion medals with Blackburn and Wolves, and one winners’ medal – that’s Bolton.

“If getting them meant I had to experience a bit of pain along the way, then it was totally worth it.

“I’ve had all sorts of different managers - but the best were the ones who just told it like it was. I can’t be doing with people playing politician.”

Here, Blake guides us through the good, the bad and the downright ugliest managers he had over a playing career of more than 450 games.

The Bolton News: Len Ashurst

Len Ashurst - Cardiff City

"He gave me my debut, so I'll always owe him for that, but he was convinced I was a left-back, which was ridiculous. I had talent, but I tackled like Bruce Lee.

"We didn't really see eye-to-eye, but he was okay. Had big, fluffy eyebrows as well."

The Bolton News:

Eddie May - Cardiff City

"An absolute legend, God rest him. I grew up in a single parent family and I always preferred to play under managers who were a bit stricter in certain areas, more of a father figure, and Eddie certainly was.

"He wasn't necessarily the person who set me on my way in football - that's more likely a coach I had at Under-10s - but he's the one who turned a seed into a flower."

The Bolton News: Proud: Former Wimbledon boss Dave Bassett had nothing but praise for the Dons after their FA Cup heartache       SP72353

Dave Bassett - Sheff Utd

"He was brilliant. I remember after my first training session the kit man pulled me to one side and said 'wow, I've never seen the manager so impressed by a player before.'

"It was Dave who turned me from a winger into a striker and I played up there with Jostein Flo, who did all the running. I was just able to concentrate on finishing, which suited me.

"Dave is a straight-talker and I like that. If I'm playing bad, then tell me, don't beat around the bush. And honesty was his greatest strength."

The Bolton News: Bolton Wanderers 1990s McFarland and ToddTea for two and two for the team Ð Roy McFarland and Colin Todd, the new management partnership at Wanderers kicked off their new joint career with a cup of tea in 1995.Photo by Bolton Evening News. (11910789)

Roy McFarland - Bolton

"He was quite understated. If I am totally honest, we didn't really look at him as the manager at Bolton, it was always Toddy (Colin Todd), so it never really felt like we were signing for Roy.

"Me and my agent met them at a hotel just off the M62 and chatted for about four hours about what they wanted to do at Bolton. But I'll bet Roy didn't say 20 words in all that time.

"He had obviously been a great player - they both had - but I think we were all fairly happy when it was just Toddy."

The Bolton News: GOOD TIMES: Colin Todd in the dug-out at Bolton Wanderers

Colin Todd - Bolton

"I remember him telling me when I signed 'we just need a striker' but then about four weeks in I had a meeting with the manager and told him straight: 'If this club is going to stay in the Premier League you need a bloody miracle, not a striker!'

"It wasn't the easiest start but that promotion season was the best time I had in my whole career. It was an absolute pleasure to play in that team., I adored that time.

"The fact that within 12 months about a dozen kids were born within the squad probably tells you how good it was!

"I still text and ring Toddy now and if I went back into football tomorrow I'd be asking his advice.

"Like Eddie May he was a father figure for me. I knew I could go to him with any problems I had and he'd do his level best to sort them. He was a great man-manager.

"I remember ringing him minutes after my son was born and sorting out when I could come back into training. That was how close I felt with him."

The Bolton News: UNLUCKY: Roy Hodgson

Roy Hodgson - Blackburn

"This is where it changed for me. Whereas I had a relationship with Toddy, we got on, when I went to Blackburn it was different with Roy, it was more professional.

"As a football man, a coach, he was brilliant. I don't think there are many better around, anywhere.

"It's no coincidence that at the age of 72 he's still managing at the highest level. He absolutely lives for the game. But I never really felt I could knock on his door and discuss anything.

The Bolton News: Graeme Souness

Graeme Souness - Blackburn 

"I'd say our relationship was up and down, and that's being nice.

"I respected what he had done in football but the problem was that I didn't respect him as a man.

"If you are not a good person then it doesn't matter what the job is, I just can't work for you.

"I got promotion with Blackburn but I did spend a lot of time injured there and it never helps when you don't feel settled.

"I always felt with Souness that he was trying to prove he was still a player - joining in with the five-a-sides and putting himself around. Toddy would join in at Bolton but it tended to be tactical - he'd talk about shape, or try and offer bits of advice - with Souness it was more about reminded the lads how good he was back in the day."

The Bolton News:

Brian Kidd - Blackburn

"He came in with his own ideas at Blackburn and within a couple of months he'd signed about 13 players, so the writing was on the wall pretty quickly.

"I never really felt he was a manager. He was an assistant - and I think Fergie writes something similar in his book.

"He just didn't have that presence that you need when you are dealing with a dressing room full of egos.

"I had the chance to go back to Bolton at that stage but I've always followed the old saying 'never go back' and I didn't want to ruin the memories I had of Bolton, so I went to Wolves."

The Bolton News:

Dave Jones - Wolves

"At Bolton or Blackburn I'd been one of the younger set of players but by the time I went to Wolves I was one of the older ones. I knew what was what and I didn't need any silly games.

"There was a cracking set of lads at Wolves, one of the very best, but again it comes down to respect for the person you are working for and I just didn't like Dave Jones.

"We got promotion in the end but I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd done at other clubs and in the end they just ran my contract down.

"I could have signed for Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth but four or five times I had to turn the car around because they upped the price at the last minute.

"When he went to Cardiff he rang me, asking if I'd sign for him again.

"I was on holiday in St Lucia with my wife at the time and she has never been dragged into football, didn't really want to get involved, but even she couldn't believe the audacity."

The Bolton News: Micky Adams salutes the fans after the draw at Leicester

Micky Adams - Leicester

"His cockney accent always used to make me laugh but Micky had Dave Bassett as his assistant, so it was really him I signed for.

"If I am being totally honest, I'd had enough of football by the time I got to Leicester. I was so disappointed by what had happened at Wolves it had just drained all the joy out of the game for me.

"I got injured, it wasn't a happy time for me but that wasn't the manager's fault it was just where I was in my life."

The Bolton News:

Peter Beadle - Newport

"I signed for them as a favour but I honestly still don't know what league I was playing in.

"Some people play the game until they are 40-odd but I just wanted to stop by that stage and I was there for about six weeks in total. My heart wasn't in it at all.

"I couldn't handle the difference between the level Newport were playing at the time and the one I'd been used to playing at.

"We were going out for a drink the night before a game - and I hadn't drank anything two days before a game in my whole career. It was like being transported back to 1992, or something.

"You'd get back aboard the team bus and there would be crates of beer for the journey. I wished them all well but it just wasn't for me."

The Bolton News: