Bolton have parted company with manager Dougie Freedman after a wretched run of results left them floundering in the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone.
Wanderers have won just one of their opening 10 games in the league and Wednesday’s 4-0 drubbing at Fulham proved to be the final nail in Freedman’s coffin, with the club announcing the Scot’s departure by mutual consent on the eve of Saturday’s home game with Bournemouth.
Freedman left Crystal Palace to take up the vacancy at Bolton two years ago this month but after narrowly missing out on the play-offs in that campaign, his side have toiled in the lower reaches of the second tier ever since.
“Dougie has worked tirelessly off the field to improve the infrastructure of the football club. Unfortunately, recent results on the pitch have not reflected all his work off it,” chairman Phil Gartside said in a statement published on the club’s official website.
“The club has faced a difficult time following our relegation from the Premier League and Dougie has helped to restructure the club in order for it to become successful again under ever-tightening constraints.
“I would like to thank Dougie personally for all his commitment and efforts for Bolton Wanderers.”
Despite the heavy reverse at Craven Cottage, Freedman, who met with Gartside on Thursday, insisted he still expected to be in charge this weekend and it appeared he had been given a stay of execution when the club announced he would take his Friday afternoon press conference as normal.
However, in the face of overwhelming resistance from the stands, the Wanderers hierarchy have caved to fan pressure and moved on from Freedman, who leaves the club four points from safety.
The former Palace striker’s decision to leave Selhurst Park for Bolton in October 2012 appears an increasingly strange one in hindsight.
The Eagles, whom Freedman left riding high in the Championship, won promotion later that year and stayed up against the odds last season to ensure another campaign at the top table.
Meanwhile, Freedman succeeded Owen Coyle at a time when the Wanderers purse-strings needed to be tightened in the face of mounting debt, which was recorded at over £160million when the most recent accounts were published last December.
The squad is now virtually unrecognisable from the one which was relegated from the top flight in 2012 and Freedman has had to manage on free signings and loans while offloading most of the club’s higher earners.
Even so, the rut they currently find themselves in has angered fans, who remember the European nights they experienced under Sam Allardyce in the previous decade.
Supporters invaded the pitch in protest during the last home game against Derby when Gartside, as well as Freedman, was the subject of their ire.
The under-pressure Gartside will now be searching for his fifth manager since Allardyce left in 2007 and will be hoping to finally strike gold again after the disappointing stints of Sammy Lee, Gary Megson, Coyle and Freedman.