Back Bolton to begin their revival against an out-of-form Brentford on Monday night.
The time is now for Neil Lennon. Bolton’s position in the Championship might be precarious but it’s nothing compared to the delicate situation in which the former Celtic manager now finds himself. The result of this game could have far reaching consequences for the future of his managerial career in England, so the home win is worth backing at 9/5.
Ordinarily, it would be demoralising to know you will remain rooted to the foot of the table whatever happens in your next outing, and Rotherham’s win over Bristol City on Saturday leaves the Trotters four points adrift. However, even if Wanderers lose this match, the season is still only 18 games old. There’s another 28 matches to pick up the 40 or so points needed to avoid the drop.
The squad might be sub-standard, and major surgery might be required when the transfer window re-opens in January, but the future is a whole lot brighter following the news that current owner Eddie Davies will write off £185m worth of loans when the club is sold. It makes Wanderers an attractive propsoition to the host of potential buyers now circling.
For Lennon, though, time is pressing. A takeover could be completed in the next couple of weeks and the sacking the manager would be the easiest thing for any new regime to do. If Lennon - and many of his players - are to be part of a brighter future at the Macron Stadium, they need to start making the right impression now. The time for them to feel sorry for themselves has passed.
Quality might be sparse but it seems the players are firmly behind Lennon and, in the right conditions, they remain capable of putting a mid-table Championship team to the sword, particularly on home soil. Given the team’s current plight, it may surprise many punters to learn that Wanderers have only lost four out of 25 home league matches under Lennon - and two of those defeats came against Watford and Norwich, sides promoted last season.
By contrast, urgency might be absent from Brentford’s game. When it comes to handling managerial changes, the Bees appear to stumble from one calamity to the next. One suspects the Griffin Park hierarchy have a better idea than most with regards to who might be the best man for their analytics-driven operation, but their clumsy public manoeuvres could have an adverse knock-on effect here.
Lee Carsley did a fine job during his two-month stint as caretaker, taking 16 points from nine matches before announcing that last weekend’s stoppage-time win over Nottingham Forest would be his last. Now he’s back, holding the fort for another 90 minutes, after a deal to take Pep Clotet away from Swansea fell through and a subsequent move for Dean Smith wasn’t completed in time.
All of which means motivation might be a problem because the players aren’t playing for a new manager, but neither, technically, are they playing for Carsley anymore either. There’s little doubt that Botlon’s preparations have been better and their focus on this particular occasion ought to be sharper. Take the 15/1 available on the difference being reflected by a 2-0 correct score.
For more information about Mike Holden’s shot-based ratings system, follow this link.