Mick McCarthy has been installed as the bookmakers' favourite to replace Owen Coyle after Bolton Wanderers sacked their manager on Tuesday morning. The Scot lost his job after last season's relegation was followed by a run of results that left the team 18th in the Championship.
Coyle left Wanderers following discussions with Phil Gartside, the chairman, and the owner, Eddie Davies, with sources at the Reebok Stadium claiming that no shortlist for the replacement had been drawn up ahead of the decision.
"Owen poured his heart and soul into the job, both on and off the pitch, and he led our club with great dignity during some very challenging times," Gartside told the Bolton website. "It is the right time for a change. We set a target at the beginning of the season and want to get back on track. I would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Owen, Sandy Stewart [Coyle's assistant] and Steve Davis [coach] for all their hard work during their time at Bolton Wanderers."
Coyle had been charged with returning the club to the Premier League after their demotion in the previous campaign ended 11 years in the top flight. But with only three wins from the opening 10 matches, the manager has accepted why the decision was made. "It's disappointing and that's an understatement. We know how football works and it's a hugely disappointing day for everybody. We have worked very hard for long hours to put a plan in place at the football club for years to come."
Coyle claimed bad luck had played a part. "The performances have been to a high standard, but we have to accept that we have not won as many games this season as we wanted to," he said. "There has been an element of luck. On Saturday we missed a penalty at 1-1 [in the 2-1 defeat at Millwall]. But we understand how football works. What I do know is it is a truly wonderful football club for anybody to come into and it's going to be a marvellous job, and I have no doubt the club will go from strength to strength.
"Anybody who knows us knows how passionate we are about football and how passionate we are about Bolton Wanderers. That's obviously been taken away from us today but the club, to be fair, came in and said a decision was going to be made. They had the grace to say we can dress this up however we wanted. Whether we say I was leaving or it was mutual consent, but the truth should be told. I have always called it straight and the bottom line is they have decided there was going to be a change. Let's tell it as it is and that's what happened. I wish them nothing but the best. Phil Gartside was my chairman and he is someone that I hold dear and I always will.
"Tough decisions have always got to be made in football. Whether it's changing managers or personnel, they are always tough decisions. I have no doubts it wasn't taken lightly. The decision has been made, it has happened. We take it on the chin and move on."
Behind McCarthy, who was sacked as Wolverhampton Wanderers manager last season, the bookmakers also have Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Sammy Lee, Bolton's former manager who is again on the club's backroom staff, in the running. Lee and Jimmy Phillips, the head of academy coaching, take temporary charge of the first-team squad.
Coyle left Burnley to join Bolton in January 2010 after taking the Turf Moor club into the Premier League the previous May. Bolton finished 14th at the end of the 2010-11 campaign, but Coyle subsequently struggled to lift the club away from danger throughout last season.