Gary Megson has never been the most accessible manager. His Friday press conferences are hardly required watching. His answers are short and terse, and his body language is unfriendly. Just recently, he found himself in the position to grant interviews to the media, and they all wanted to get a quote from him.
Meanwhile, Bolton fans don't have an intelligent and eloquent outlet in the mainstream media. All the journalists that write opinion pieces for the newspapers and major websites are Man Utd, Liverpool, Everton and Spurs fans. As far as they're concerned, Megson has done a good job keeping little Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League.
Whenever Megson found himself in front of a microphone, he would complain about the adversity he had to face as a Premier League manager, and because the assembled reporters are desperate to get themselves a quote from the tight-lipped manager, they would print whatever he would say and never question it.
Example 1: "This club was bottom of the table when I arrived."
True, after a dismal start to the season, with only one home win under Sammy Lee (does that sound familiar?), Bolton were bottom of the table. However that was twenty-six months ago and Bolton are now 17th, having progressed only two spots in the table during Megson's reign. While he did keep the club up, it was only in the last few weeks when Bolton looked safe, while other clubs (such as Newcastle and Hull) were plummeting towards the relegation zone.
More distressingly, the standard of football on the pitch has shown no sign of picking up over the last two years. Gary Megson's negative approach against terrible sides has exasperated fans, yet barely made a dent in the match reports and opinion pieces that infuriate the messageboards.
Example 2: "This club was a mess when I arrived. I had to sell players and get the wages under control, and now we're starting to see what we're trying to do here."
Completely separate from what has happened on the pitch, the state of the club behind the scene is as troubling as it has ever been. In the last few years wages have increased dramatically as key players signed long-term contracts, and transfer money has been (frankly) wasted on the likes of Johan Elmander and Zat Knight. Beyond the core of the team – Jussi Jaaskelainen, Gary Cahill, Matthew Taylor, Kevin Davies and potentially Lee Chung-Yong – there is little quality and depth in the squad, despite the money that was spent in the summer.
I'm especially fed up with the ex-footballers and out-of-work managers that have popped up all over the place to denounce the fans and the club for not supporting Megson. He had two years and the full financial backing of the club and has failed to demonstrate any sort of progress.
I never want to hear Jason McAteer tell me that managers don't get enough support from fans, and try to blame the supporters for someone losing his job. If at any point in the last two years Gary Megson demonstrated that he might be the man for the job then things might have been different. If he had made any sort of attempt to involve the fans, such as reaching out to the Supporter's Association, then things might have been different.
I don't believe that any manager - young or old - should be blindly supported while they drive the club into the ground, when it's apparent that they aren't good at their job. This hasn't been Gary Megson's first chance and it isn't the first time he has turned the supporters against him.
And I don't want to hear from Harry Bassett and the other ex-managers who can't make a living in the dugout any more, so they are compelled to tell me I'm stupid. There is a very good reason why these people aren't employed in football anymore, and they obviously see a lot of themselves in Gary Megson.
Football clubs don't exist to keep football managers employed, they exist because the fans are willing to pay to go through the turnstiles, and in that respect Gary Megson has been an abject failure. At some point the feelings of the fans have to be taken into account, if not at the stadium on Saturday afternoons, then when they check the books, and the decline in ticket revenues, at the end of the month.
Whatever the reports and blogs say, what has happened hasn't been a failure on the part of the Bolton fans. The problems detailed here have all been created by Phil Gartside, by the one-eyed reporting by the media and the endless procession of self-important talking heads. You can't tell the fans how they should think or feel, and you definitely can't tell them how to spend their money.
Will this be a clean slate, a fresh start for everyone involved? Will those darned distrustful Bolton fans ever learn to love again? Has Phil Gartside learned that he can't just steamroller the fans, whether it's persisting with an unpopular manager or destroying a century of Football League history in reforming the top division? Will Harry Bassett and David Pleat take the hint and leave me alone?
First things first: Who is going to take the job?
As appealing as it might be to imagine Mark Hughes patrolling the sideline at the Reebok, in all hiss time at the helm at Bolton, Captain Gartside has only had to make this decision twice, first Sammy Lee, the Gary Megson. Neither decision proved to be an unequivocal success, so I wouldn't be surprised if he dared to be unpopular again.
It may not be exciting (or inspiring), but don't be surprised to see Paul Jewell, Alan Curbishley or Peter Reid unveiled in the new year.