Caretaker player-coach Andy Hughes claims Dougie Freedman’s successor as Bolton boss will inherit a “hungry, driven squad” despite a 2-1 Sky Bet Championship home defeat to 10-man Bournemouth.
Callum Wilson struck two second-half goals, after Yann Kermorgant’s 36th-minute red card for violent conduct, to leave Wanderers rock-bottom of the Championship.
Hughes and goalkeeping coach Lee Turner were put in temporary charge after Freedman’s assistant Lennie Lawrence and first-team coach Curtis Fleming were sacked on Friday.
“I am sure there will be some high-class managers, out of work, looking at this job, chomping at the bit,” Hughes said. “If I was one of them with this facility, the training ground, the academy and the fans, I would be.
“Whoever is the next manager, he is going to inherit a wonderful squad. I look down our squad and I think ‘wow’.
“We need to win and get someone in who will lift the bunch. But he is getting a driven, hungry bunch who are willing to work hard.
“There is only one way for this club and that is up. And it will stay up.”
Southend boss Phil Brown would be a popular choice with fans because of his long association with the Lancashire club as a player, caretaker manager and coach. So too academy boss, Jimmy Phillips.
However, chairman Phil Gartside, the subject of pre- and post-match protests, is expected to look outside the town with Malky Mackay likely to be one of the front-runners.
Bolton’s managerial problems should not hide a superb performance by Bournemouth, who rarely looked as though they were a man down after Kermorgant’s dismissal for a chest-high tackle on Mark Davies.
“You did fear it would be the turning point against us, but it didn’t affect us too negatively and didn’t change the way we played,” manager Eddie Howe said.
“it was an outstanding win with some outstanding individual displays. I can see why the referee gave the red card because Yann’s foot was very high.
“But in Yann’s defence he picks balls out of the sky with his feet regularly. It was nothing malicious - it’s just Yann and the way he plays.
“It was a difficult game to prepare for but what we did bank on was Bolton playing two up front and have a right go. When Dougie left, the crowd was no longer going to be our friend - it was going to be Bolton’s friend.
“That releases frustrations and that swung the balance back in favour of Bolton.
“But we trained with the eventuality of going down to 10 men so it was nothing new. We did well against Derby in midweek with 10 men so we had a little practice run, but this was just for a lot longer.
“I forgot second half we were down to 10 men. We had a man less but we passed the ball the same.
“That should give us a huge lift for the remaining games that we have this season that we can compete.”
On Wilson’s double, Howe added: “Strikers thrive on goals. That will do him the world of good and it will give him an extra boost and caps off a great start to his Bournemouth career.”