Tag Archives: Sam Allardyce

The Clubs: Bolton Wanderers

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
494 149 128 217 575 745 -170 575 13

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Jussi Jaaskelainen 379
Kevin Davies 316
Kevin Nolan 261
Ricardo Gardner 251
Ivan Campo 172
Bruno N’Gotty 147
Henrik Pedersen 143
Stelios Giannakopoulos 137
Per Frandsen 134
Gudni Bergsson 130

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Kevin Davies 67
Kevin Nolan 39
Matt Taylor 23
Henrik Pedersen 22
Nicolas Anelka 21
El-Hadji Diouf 21
Youri Djorkaeff 20
Stelios Giannakopoulos 20
Ivan Klasnic 20
Michael Ricketts 19

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Leicester City 0-5 Bolton Wanderers 18th August 2001 2001-2002
Bolton Wanderers 5-0 Stoke City 6th November 2011 2011-2012
Bolton Wanderers 5-1 Newcastle United 20th November 2010 2010-2011
Everton 0-4 Bolton Wanderers 17th December 2005 2005-2006
Bolton Wanderers 4-0 West Ham United 9th December 2006 2006-2007
Bolton Wanderers 4-0 Wigan Athletic 13th March 2010 2009-2010
Queens Park Rangers 0-4 Bolton Wanderers 13th August 2011 2011-2012
Bolton Wanderers 5-2 Crystal Palace 2nd May 1998 1997-1998
Middlesbrough 1-4 Bolton Wanderers 17th February 1996 1995-1996
Bolton Wanderers 4-1 Ipswich Town 6th April 2002 2001-2002

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Bolton Wanderers 0-6 Manchester United 25th February 1996 1995-1996
Sheffield Wednesday 5-0 Bolton Wanderers 8th November 1997 1997-1998
Bolton Wanderers 0-5 Manchester United 25th February 1996 1995-1996
Manchester City 6-2 Bolton Wanderers 18th October 2003 2003-2004
Bolton Wanderers 1-5 Coventry City 31st January 1998 1997-1998
Chelsea 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 23rd December 2001 2001-2002
Chelsea 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 15th October 2005 2005-2006
Middlesbrough 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 20th January 2007 2006-2007
Aston Villa 5-1 Bolton Wanderers 7th November 2009 2009-2010
Bolton Wanderers 1-5 Chelsea 2nd October 2011 2011-2012

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Roy McFarland 1 7th January 1996
Colin Todd 2 22nd September 1999
Sam Allardyce 6 30th April 2007
Sammy Lee 1 17th October 2007
Gary Megson 3 30th December 2009
Owen Coyle 3 9th October 2012

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Leicester City 28th December 2003 28,353 2003-2004
Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Fulham 6th February 2010 28,353 2009-2010
Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Arsenal 20th December 2003 28,003 2003-2004
Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Liverpool FC 29th August 2004 27,880 2004-2005
Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Tottenham Hotspur 1st February 2005 27,780 2004-2005
Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Manchester United 11th September 2004 27,766 2004-2005
Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Manchester United 1st April 2006 27,718 2005-2006
Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Everton 15th May 2005 27,701 2004-2005
Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Manchester United 7th January 2004 27,668 2003-2004
Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Chelsea 30th April 2005 27,653 2004-2005

 

Intro

Bolton Wanderers have played Premier League football in 13 seasons and at their peak, the Trotters enjoyed four successive finishes in the top eight under the guidance of Sam Allardyce, peaking with sixth position in 2004-2005. Bolton’s ability to get the best out of experienced players such as Jay-Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff, Ivan Campo and Gary Speed served them well for several years. Relegation came in 2012 under Owen Coyle’s stewardship and with current severe financial problems; it is looking difficult to see Bolton returning to the top-flight in the short-term.

 

1995-1996

After an absence of 15 years, Bolton Wanderers returned to the top-flight in 1995-1996 and produced an early season surprise when they defeated reigning champions Blackburn Rovers 2-1. However, they remained at the foot of the table for much of the campaign and in early January, manager Roy McFarland was sacked. His assistant Colin Todd took over and although results did improve, the damage had already been done and Bolton went down on the final Saturday of the season, losing 1-0 to Southampton.

 

1997-1998

1997-1998 was the first season Bolton Wanderers moved into their new state-of-the-art home and there was controversy in their opening match at The Reebok Stadium. In a goalless draw with Everton, Bolton were denied a goal when Terry Phelan hooked the ball off the goal-line when the ball had clearly crossed the line. It would prove to be a decisive moment in their season. Colin Todd paid a club-record fee to bring Dean Holdsworth to the club in October for £3.5 million and they had a strong home record, winning seven times. However, they went into the final day still needing a positive result to survive.

Bolton went to Chelsea but despite a brave effort, lost 2-0 and were relegated on goal difference as Everton’s 1-1 draw with Coventry City was enough to keep the Toffees in the Premier League. Bolton fans felt robbed because of the controversy during the early-season encounter with Everton in the days where goal-line technology was just a pipedream.

 

2001-2002

After a four-year absence, Bolton returned to the Premier League with Sam Allardyce as manager and made an amazing start, winning their first three games which included a 2-1 victory over Liverpool FC. Michael Ricketts’ form won him an England international call-up in February and Ricketts also scored the winning goal at Old Trafford as Bolton stunned the champions in October. Form dipped in the winter and it was only the arrivals of Fredi Bobic and Youri Djorkaeff that kept Bolton away from danger. A masterful first half display against Ipswich Town which saw the home side go 4-0 infront before half-time was a crucial result. Bolton finished in 16th place and avoided relegation for the first time in their Premier League existence.

 

2002-2003

Bolton enjoyed another promising start to the 2002-2003 season. They bounced back well from an opening day 4-1 loss to Fulham by defeating both Aston Villa and then, for a second successive season, success at Old Trafford with Kevin Nolan’s only strike of the season beating Manchester United. Only two wins in their next 21 games followed and another relegation scrap would follow. However, the form of Youri Djorkaeff, Per Frandsen and Jay-Jay Okocha was important in the run-in. They lost only two of their final 13 matches and survival was achieved at West Ham’s expense on the final day after beating Middlesbrough 2-1.

 

2003-2004

Fears of another relegation scramble looked like a distinct possibility after back-to-back 4-0 defeats on the road at Manchester United and Portsmouth. In fact, Bolton won just one of their first 10 matches but Kevin Nolan’s matchwinner at White Hart Lane in early November was the catalyst for a big improvement from Sam Allardyce’s side. They actually enjoyed a comfortable season, finishing in a tremendous eighth position with a run of five successive victories achieved towards the end of the season. Bolton also reached the League Cup final but lost the showpiece event 2-1 to Middlesbrough.

 

2004-2005

The arrivals of Fernando Hierro, Gary Speed and El-Hadji Diouf in pre-season added to the quality and experience that Sam Allardyce was forming. The Trotters won three of their first four matches and sat in fourth place after beating Newcastle United 2-1 at the end of October. However, they ended 2004 in 13th place after a dreadful December which brought six successive defeats. Bolton recovered brilliantly from this mid-season slump to beat Arsenal and Everton in the second half of the campaign and finished in a Premier League high of sixth, level on points with Liverpool FC and only behind the Reds on goal difference.

 

2005-2006

Sam Allardyce had a new assistant with Sammy Lee replacing Phil Brown after Brown decided to go and manage Derby County. Bolton were competing in the UEFA Cup and reached the round-of-32 before bowing out to Marseille. Domestically, the Trotters had another impressive season and looked set for another top six finish until a five-game losing sequence towards the campaign’s end saw them slide to eighth at the season’s end. Allardyce was interviewed for the England manager’s job but lost out on the role to Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren.

 

2006-2007

Nicolas Anelka was a major new arrival in the summer and although it took until November for him to score, the Frenchman finished with 11 goals to be the club’s top scorer. Bolton again proved tough to beat and sat in third spot on New Years’ Day only below Manchester United and Chelsea in the table. They eventually finished seventh and secured European qualification again but lost their manager as Allardyce resigned three games before the end of the season. Sammy Lee succeeded him.

 

2007-2008

Bolton made a very slow start to 2007-2008 and after winning just one match in their first nine of the campaign; Sammy Lee was fired in mid-October. Gary Megson was the surprise replacement and it wasn’t a popular appointment either. Megson though managed to galvanise the team to a shock victory over Manchester United in November with Nicolas Anelka scoring the only goal. Anelka scored 10 times before leaving for Chelsea in the January transfer window. An unbeaten five-game sequence at the end of the season, including a final day draw at Stamford Bridge kept Bolton in the top-flight but down in 16th place and only safe by a solitary point from relegated Reading.

 

2008-2009

Anelka’s long-term replacement in the striking department was Johan Elmander who arrived for a club-record fee of £8.2 million from Toulouse. The Swede struggled though in his debut campaign and so did Bolton again, who eventually finished 13th and lost exactly half of their 38 games. Bolton’s best period came in November when they four out of their five matches including an impressive 4-1 away victory at Sunderland which spelt the end for Roy Keane as Black Cats boss.

 

2009-2010

The pressure was on Gary Megson early on when Bolton finished August pointless from all three matches played. Just four victories were recorded in the first half of the campaign and after throwing away a two-goal lead to draw with fellow strugglers Hull City during the festive period, Megson was sacked. It was a popular decision with many who had grown tired of his sterile tactics and lack of productive results. Bolton then pursued former player Owen Coyle and managed to persuade him to leave Burnley to take the vacancy at The Reebok. Coyle managed six further victories including a priceless success over his former club in January and completed his short-term mission of keeping Bolton in the Premier League. They eventually finished 14th.

 

2010-2011

Bolton Wanderers enjoyed a mini renaissance in 2010-2011 and were strong all season at The Reebok Stadium. They won 10 times on home soil, with Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal among their victims. The 2-1 victory over the Gunners in April finished off Arsenal’s title challenge for another season. Coyle’s team were sixth just before Christmas and playing some superb football. Elmander enjoyed his best campaign in English football and scored a Goal of the Season contender in a 3-2 away victory at Wolverhampton Wanderers in November.

There was also a run to the FA Cup semi-finals which ended in a demoralising 5-0 defeat to Stoke City and that had a damaging effect on the run-in. The Trotters lost their last five games of the season and ended 14th for the second successive campaign, despite sitting in the top half for the majority of the season.

 

2011-2012

A 4-0 opening day victory away at Queens Park Rangers turned out to be a false dawn. Bolton went on to lose their next six matches, losing heavily to Manchester United and Chelsea on home soil too. There was a 5-0 triumph over Stoke in November to exact nice revenge on the Potters for April’s FA Cup semi-final hiding but Bolton went into 2012 bottom of the table.

In March, midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest in the first half of their FA Cup quarter-final against Tottenham Hotspur. Muamba would make a full recovery but had to retire from playing football professionally after the incident.

After conceding a two-goal lead to draw their final home match of the season against West Bromwich Albion, Bolton had to win at Stoke on the final day to have any chance of avoiding relegation. The 2-2 draw wasn’t enough and that meant they were relegated back to the Championship despite QPR’s final day defeat at Manchester City.

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Seasonal Stories: Bolton Wanderers (2001-2002)

Target achieved

Bolton Wanderers were tipped by many as favourites to make an instant return to the First Division ahead of the 2001-2002 Premier League campaign. Without a great deal of money to spend following promotion, Sam Allardyce had to rely on the bulk of his promotion-winning squad and they did him proud. Top of the table in August and a memorable win at Old Trafford over the reigning champions were among the early highlights.

A winter wobble gave way to a successful spring and a 16th-place finish which meant the Trotters avoided relegation for the first time in their Premier League existence.

Three wins from three

Having won promotion to the Premier League after defeating Preston North End in the play-off final in late May, Sam Allardyce was about to face a big challenge as a top-flight manager and with little summer investment. Bolton spent a meagre £650,000 in pre-season and that was on one player, Henrik Pedersen from Danish outfit Silkeborg.

Allardyce had to rely on the majority of his promotion-winning squad but they made a fabulous start on the opening day at Filbert Street, handing down a 5-0 thrashing to Leicester City. Kevin Nolan scored twice on his Premier League debut and Per Frandsen struck two fantastic free-kicks in a scoreline that left everyone surprised by the way Bolton had trounced a team who had comfortably finished in mid-table in the previous campaign.

Michael Ricketts had also scored in that victory and he made a brilliant individual start to his maiden season in the top-flight. Ricketts got the only goal of the game in Bolton’s first home match of the season against Middlesbrough three days later, then opened the scoring against Liverpool FC in a shock 2-1 victory over the side that held five trophies to their name at this stage of the season. A record crowd at The Reebok Stadium saw Sander Westerveld allow a weak Dean Holdsworth shot to defeat him in stoppage-time and ensure Bolton ended August top of the Premier League table.

Surprising the elite

September was a winless month but Bolton still remained in fourth place and picked up more vital points on their travels. The Premier League elite were struggling against ‘Big Sam’ and his battling squad. Liverpool FC had lost to them and after the first international break of the season, Leeds United couldn’t break Bolton down at Elland Road, drawing 0-0.

Later in the month, Ricketts came off the bench to snatch an equaliser in a 1-1 draw at Highbury with Arsenal. He later admitted he had been dropped by the manager for a poor performance in the previous match but seemed happy to play the rotational role. He would strike a more significant blow a month later on the reigning champions.

When Bolton travelled to Old Trafford to play Manchester United in mid-October, they had slipped to eighth in the table and were winless in six matches. They fell behind to Juan Sebastian Veron’s free-kick and needed a splendid double-save from Jussi Jaaskelainen to stop the Red Devils increasing their advantage. Then, Nolan scored a brilliant equaliser before Ricketts raced clear of Wes Brown in the last five minutes and silenced the home support with a stunning winning goal. Bolton had just stunned Manchester United and left with all three points. They were mixing it in decent company in the upper echelons of the Premier League table.

21st OCTOBER 2001 TABLE

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Leeds United 9 5 4 0 12 3 +9 19
2 Arsenal 9 5 3 1 21 8 +13 18
3 Aston Villa 9 5 3 1 14 6 +8 18
4 Manchester United 9 5 2 2 26 16 +10 17
5 Liverpool FC 8 5 1 2 15 9 +6 16
6 BOLTON WANDERERS 10 4 3 3 12 11 +1 15

Momentum lost

The fine start Bolton made to the season seemed to have silenced the critics who had believed they had little hope of staying up at the start of the campaign. However, winter would leave a real freeze over The Reebok.

After the win at Old Trafford, Allardyce’s side lost all sense of momentum, only winning one of their next 15 matches which was a 2-1 success infront of the Sky Sports Super Sunday cameras away at struggling Ipswich Town in mid-November.

Bolton plummeted down the table and were beginning to concede goals at an alarming rate too. Chelsea beat them 5-1 at Stamford Bridge despite Nolan giving them a third-minute lead. Days later, Robbie Fowler scored his first Leeds United hat-trick as David O’Leary’s side cruised to a 3-0 victory on Boxing Day.

When they lost an end-to-end contest in early February on Tyneside to Newcastle United 3-2, the club had dropped into the bottom three for the first time in the season. Maybe the doubters were about to be proven right.

Allardyce knew he needed to add some proven experience to his squad and swooped into the European market to bring in defender Bruno N’Gotty from Marseille, tough-tackling midfielder Stig Tøfting from Hamburger SV and experienced forwards Youri Djorkaeff and Fredi Bobic. The latter pair would have a huge influence on Bolton’s fortunes in the spring months.

Fredi and Youri do the business

Bolton did record a 1-0 victory over West Ham United in mid-February but the genuine turning point came in late March when the Trotters travelled to The Valley to play Charlton Athletic. Djorkaeff scored his first goals for the club as Bolton recorded a 2-1 victory to climb out of the drop zone and it started a run of three victories in four games.

On Easter Saturday, Bobic broke his duck at home to Aston Villa and Nolan rediscovered his goalscoring form to send Villa to a 3-2 defeat. A week later, Bobic was in sensational form at home to Ipswich. In a game that was a genuine relegation six-pointer, he scored a first half hat-trick and Djorkaeff chipped in with another strike as Allardyce’s side enjoyed a memorable first half. Ipswich were 4-0 down at the interval and their season never truly recovered. The final scoreline was 4-1 and it was a result that virtually secured Bolton’s place in the Premier League for another season.

The magical 40-point mark was achieved a week later with a 1-1 home draw against Tottenham Hotspur and although they lost their final three matches against a trio of London sides in Fulham, Arsenal and West Ham United, Bolton had achieved survival for the first time in their Premier League life – finishing four points above danger. It was a job well done from a team considered the favourite for the drop at the start of the season.

FINAL 2001-2002 TABLE – THE BOTTOM SIX

POS TABLE P W D L F A GD PTS
15 Everton 38 11 10 17 45 57 -12 43
16 BOLTON WANDERERS 38 9 13 16 44 62 -18 40
17 Sunderland 38 10 10 18 29 51 -22 40
18 Ipswich Town 38 9 9 20 41 64 -23 36
19 Derby County 38 8 6 24 33 63 -30 30
20 Leicester City 38 5 13 20 30 64 -34 28

Premier League Files: Kevin Nolan

Premier League Career: Bolton Wanderers (2001-2009), Newcastle United (2009), (2010-2011), West Ham United (2012-2015)

Kevin Nolan enjoyed a successful playing career in the Premier League. He has scored winning goals at Old Trafford, captained all three of the sides he played for in the top-flight and also has two Premier League hat-tricks to his name. Nolan represented England at Under-21 level but despite his name being often linked with a senior call-up, he never earned a cap for The Three Lions. In fact, he holds the unfortunate record of making the most Premier League appearances without winning international recognition from England.

Growing up in the Toxteth area of Liverpool where goalscoring legend Robbie Fowler was born, Nolan’s desire from an early age was to become a footballer. Although the teams he followed at a young age were his boyhood club Liverpool FC and Celtic, his favourite players were the Manchester United pair, Eric Cantona and Lee Sharpe. He signed for Bolton Wanderers at the age of 16.

In 2001, Nolan helped Sam Allardyce’s Trotters defeat Preston North End 3-0 in the First Division play-off final at The Millennium Stadium. He immediately became an integral part of the Bolton side returning to the Premier League after three seasons away. On the opening day of the 2001-2002 campaign, Nolan scored twice as Bolton made a fabulous start, winning 5-0 away at Leicester City. Two months later, he scored an equalising goal in the club’s surprising win at Old Trafford. He finished with eight goals as Bolton finished 16th to beat the Premier League drop for the first time.

The 2002-2003 campaign was personally a disappointment for Nolan as he only added one more goal to his tally. However, it was a priceless one. He capitalised on a mistake from David Beckham to score at Old Trafford for the second successive campaign. This time, it was the matchwinning strike to spearhead Bolton to a 1-0 victory. It was an important result too, as they only avoided relegation at the end of the season by two points. There was a marked improvement in both player and club form in 2003-2004. Bolton finished in a tremendous 8th place in the table and reached the League Cup final. Nolan scored a career-best 12 goals in all competitions as his influence continued to grow on Allardyce’s ever-improving side.

When Jay-Jay Okocha left The Reebok Stadium in 2006, Nolan’s impact was recognised even further when he was appointed as Okocha’s replacement in the team captaincy role. He made 323 league appearances for the club, scoring a host of crucial goals in Bolton’s maiden European adventures but by January 2009, fans were unhappy with his drop in performances. Without a goal and saddened by the criticism considering the service he’d given to Bolton, Kevin left to join Newcastle United in a £4 million move.

His move to Tyneside didn’t start well. A month after his arrival, he received a red card in a goalless draw with Everton for a horrendous two-footed challenge on Victor Anichebe which left the Nigerian out of action for several months with a serious knee injury. Newcastle were relegated at the end of the season and all of a sudden, Nolan was back in the Football League. However, he didn’t seek a transfer and took responsibility for the club’s drop into the second-tier. He was widely praised for his efforts in the 2009-2010 season. He scored 18 goals, including the first hat-trick of his club career in an away victory against Ipswich Town. His performances earned him the honour of the Championship Player of the Year and Newcastle earned promotion back to the top-flight as champions.

With Nicky Butt retiring in the summer of 2010, Nolan was given the captain’s armband on Newcastle’s return to the Premier League and scored twice in the club’s first home match back in the top-flight as Aston Villa were thrashed 6-0. Two months later, he enjoyed arguably the greatest day of his career, scoring a hat-trick in the Tyne & Wear Derby as Newcastle enjoyed a memorable 5-1 success over bitter rivals Sunderland.

So it was a surprise to see Nolan leave Newcastle in the summer of 2011 and return to the Championship, linking up with his former manager Allardyce at West Ham United on a five-year contract. With Matthew Upson moving on to Stoke City following the Hammers’ relegation from the top-flight, Nolan was immediately handed the captain’s armband and he led the team to an instant return to the Premier League. Promotion was secured via the play-offs.

Back in the Premier League for 2012-2013, Nolan scored in all of West Ham’s first three home games of the season, including a stoppage-time equaliser to rescue a 1-1 draw with Sunderland. In April, he scored the 100th goal of his career and he wrapped up his season in style with a final day treble in a 4-2 victory over already relegated Reading. That meant that for the fourth season running, he achieved double figures in terms of league goals. 2013-2014 was less rewarding and West Ham’s form wasn’t great either as they struggled to find any consistency. Two quick red cards in the winter months in away losses to Liverpool FC and Fulham suggested frustration was creeping into Nolan’s game. Allardyce’s response was to fine him two weeks wages and warn him that any further misconduct would see him removed of the captaincy. He still ended as the club’s top scorer but it wasn’t a happy season and his time at West Ham which started so well was ending on a downer.

His last game for the club came in August 2015 against AFC Bournemouth. With West Ham 2-0 down at half-time, he was replaced by Matt Jarvis and it was the last time he would figure in the Premier League. Five days later, he left the club via mutual consent, having played 157 times in all competitions for the Hammers. Nolan moved into management five months later, taking a player-manager role at Leyton Orient who were struggling in League Two. In January 2017, he took over at Notts County and led them to the League Two play-off final last season where they were pipped to promotion by Coventry City. After a wretched start to the 2018-2019 campaign, Nolan parted company with the oldest football club in England on 26th August, replaced by Australian Harry Kewell, who has since also being relieved of his duties.

Management has already shown bumps in the road but Kevin Nolan had a knack of being in the right place at the right time as a player. He was a leader in all of the dressing rooms he walked into, was never afraid of a challenge and a serial goalscorer for all of the teams he represented in the top-flight.

The Managers: Steve Kean

Premier League Clubs Managed: Blackburn Rovers (2010-2012)

Blackburn Rovers were relegated from the Premier League under the guidance of Steve Kean in 2012. Kean was never a popular figure with the Rovers supporters who constantly chanted for him to step down as first-team manager. His two years at the helm at Ewood Park were very difficult to say the least.

Coaching apprenticeship alongside Coleman

Kean grew up on the outskirts of Glasgow and upon leaving school; he signed professional forms with Scottish giants Celtic. He was hoping to make the grade with the Bhoys but it didn’t work out. Celtic had powerful midfielders in the 1980s like Murdo MacLeod and Tommy Burns. He failed to make a single first-team appearance for the Glasgow side.

He joined Swansea City on-loan in 1987 and formed a friendship with his teammate Chris Coleman which would grow into a later coaching apprenticeship alongside the Welshman. Like at Celtic, the winger made little impact on the team at Swansea and likewise at Alloa Athletic back in Scotland. In fact, his best time as a player was in mainland Europe with Portuguese side Academica Coimbra. He learned the Portuguese language and scored his one and only goal in his senior career during his time there.

Realising that playing wasn’t working for him, Steve retired in 1994 and became a coach. He began his coaching days with Reading but became Coleman’s assistant manager when he became permanent Fulham boss in the summer of 2003. He spent four seasons as Coleman’s no.2 at Craven Cottage and would also work with the Welshman during management spells with Real Sociedad and Coventry City.

In 2008, it was rumoured that Kean might land a coaching job with Chelsea following the appointment of Luiz Felipe Scolari as the club’s manager. This was because of his Portuguese speaking background. There was interest but nothing ultimately materialised.

Learning, then succeeding Big Sam

Just over a week before the start of the 2009-2010 Premier League season, Kean was appointed first-team coach by Sam Allardyce at Blackburn Rovers. He succeeded Karl Robinson, who was making his first steps into management with Milton Keynes Dons. Allardyce would later say in his autobiography that he took Kean on following a strong recommendation of his coaching skills from Coleman.

In December 2010, Blackburn lost late on in a Lancashire Derby at Bolton Wanderers, beaten 2-1 by Stuart Holden’s winner. They were still sitting comfortably in mid-table, so everyone was stunned when Blackburn’s new owners, the Venky’s decided to sack Allardyce. Kean was put in temporary charge initially but just one month later, was given a two-and-a-half year contract.

The fans were unimpressed, not only with the decision to dispense with Big Sam’s services but for the owners to appoint a manager with no managerial experience whatsoever. It became clear that it was more than being given a chance behind this decision. Kean’s agent Jerome Anderson had played a major role in advising Venky’s during their protracted interest in taking over the ownership of the club.

He actually started well in the job and a 2-0 triumph over West Bromwich Albion in mid-January took Blackburn into 7th spot in the table. However, a 10-game winless sequence followed and Rovers were still not guaranteed safety before the final day of the season. A final day 3-2 victory at Molineux over Wolverhampton Wanderers ensured their Premier League status but it left for plenty of worries from the supporters about the club’s future. Sadly for them, they were to be proven right.

Losing faith

Blackburn made a dreadful start to the 2011-2012 season, losing their first three matches and although there was a 4-3 victory over Arsenal, it was the only win in the opening three months of the campaign. Protests by large sections of the Ewood Park faithful for the manager to be removed from his post continued throughout the autumn and the problems continued to mount. They were in big trouble and defeat to Bolton Wanderers just before Christmas ensured Blackburn would spend Christmas Day at the foot of the table.

A shock 3-2 victory on New Years’ Eve over Manchester United at Old Trafford offered a faint glimmer of hope and form did improve in the second half of the campaign. However, the unrest between supporters and manager continued. They had lost total faith in what they were seeing on a weekly basis. Five successive defeats in April dragged them back into the bottom three and having recorded a meekly 12 wins from his 55 games as a top-flight boss, Blackburn were relegated on a rain-soaked evening at home to Wigan Athletic in May 2012. Their 11-year stay in the top-flight was over.

14 points from the first seven matches of the Championship season hinted an immediate return could follow but the fans were now beginning to boycott home matches until the Scot had parted company. Days after the club’s first loss of the season – a 2-1 home defeat to Middlesbrough which was watched by a paltry crowd of 13,405, Kean resigned from his position.

A statement through his lawyers read: “For reasons that I cannot discuss on legal advice, it is with deep regret, given my hard work and service for the club for a number of years, that I have been forced to resign as manager of Blackburn Rovers Football Club with immediate effect, due to my position as team manager becoming untenable.”

In total, he won 21, drew 16 and lost 37 of his 74 matches’ in-charge of the Lancastrians.

Less than three months after his departure, a recording emerged of him drinking at a bar on a Blackburn pre-season tour to Hong Kong claiming Allardyce had been sacked as manager because he was “a crook.”

Allardyce sued him and eventually accepted damages after Kean accepted the allegation he made was completely untrue, withdrew it and agreed to pay an undisclosed sum. Blackburn apologised to Allardyce for the embarrassment this caused.

Since then, Kean has been coaching in Asia and won the Singapore professional league championship with DPMM FC in 2015. He left the club in November 2017, one year earlier than the end of his contract with them.

He is contemplating a return to British football despite the hostility he received at Blackburn but seems to have found a coaching base in Asia and looks set to build on his recent success on the continent.

The Managers: Sam Allardyce

Premier League Clubs Managed: Bolton Wanderers (2001-2007), Newcastle United (2007-2008), Blackburn Rovers (2008-2010), West Ham United (2012-2015), Sunderland (2015-2016), Crystal Palace (2016-2017), Everton (2017-2018)

Sam Allardyce is one of the great survivors of the Premier League. He is often one of the first bosses that worried owners turn to when their club look to be flirting dangerously with the depths of a relegation battle. Everton chairman Bill Kenwright was the latest in this situation when the Toffees elected to call on his services in November 2017. Everton slipped into the bottom three when they lost 4-1 at Southampton under David Unsworth’s difficult reign as caretaker manager. They were in freefall and needed the expertise of Allardyce to get themselves out of a very sticky situation.

The Merseysiders didn’t have to worry. The football in terms of overall quality was not good but ‘Big Sam’ is one person who doesn’t care about style. The result is vitally more important over substance and that’s why Everton finished in eighth position despite some underwhelming displays. It was another case of mission complete for Allardyce. His reward was the sack 72 hours after the conclusion of the 2017-2018 season!

All this and a successful salvage mission at Crystal Palace has come after his ill-fated short spell as England manager in 2016 which seemed to have put him on the managerial scrapheap.

Over 500 appearances

During a 21-year playing career, Allardyce made 578 league and cup appearances. After spending his youth days at semi-professional level with Dudley Town, he joined Bolton Wanderers in 1969 and spent nine seasons as a player with the Trotters. During his time with them, Bolton were promoted to the First Division in 1978. It was the most productive spell of his playing days.

He spent much of the 1980s on the road, playing for no fewer than eight clubs. This included a brief period playing in the North American Soccer League with the Tampa Bay Rowdies and a second 14-game spell with Bolton Wanderers in the 1985-1986 season. A year later, he won promotion out of the Fourth Division with Preston North End, also earning a spot in the PFA Team of the Year.

Early coaching days

Allardyce was hired as a player-coach by Brian Talbot at West Bromwich Albion in February 1989. He spent the rest of the season managing and occasionally playing for the reserves before being promoted to first-team coaching duties. That role ended in January 1991 when he and Talbot were sacked following the Baggies shock FA Cup exit at the hands of non-league Woking.

So, ‘Big Sam’ went to Ireland and despite huge financial pressures, he managed to guide Limerick to promotion into the Irish Premier Division. After a year in Ireland, he returned to English shores, coaching at Preston North End. When manager Les Chapman was sacked 10 games into the campaign, Sam had a stint as caretaker manager but despite promise, he was overlooked for the job permanently by the Preston hierarchy. He left after 18 months at Deepdale, frustrated by being forced to work at youth team level after his taste of first-team management.

His first permanent managerial breakthrough came at Blackpool, who appointed him manager in July 1994. In two seasons at Bloomfield Road, he took them to 12th and 3rd place finishes in the Second Division. After narrowly missing out on promotion in 1996, losing in the play-off semi-finals to Bradford City, Allardyce was sacked by Chairman Owen Oyston. Five years after his departure, he said: “I was stunned but it didn’t put me off football management otherwise I would never have returned. Looking back, Blackpool probably did me a favour.”

In January 1997, he returned to management with Notts County, who were struggling in the lower reaches of Division Two. He arrived too late to save them from relegation but earned them instant promotion as Third Division champions in 1997-1998, becoming the first post-war side to earn promotion from any division in the month of March.

He remained at County until October 1999, resigning to return to Bolton Wanderers.

The spirit of Bolton

Allardyce did inherit a talented squad that had just missed out on promotion the previous season via the play-offs. Among the players at his disposal were Eidur Gudjohnsen, Dean Holdsworth, Claus Jensen and Mark Fish. Despite being in the bottom half when he took over, Bolton did reach the First Division play-offs but came up short at the semi-final hurdle, losing to Ipswich Town over two legs.

There were no such mistakes in 2000-2001. After three years in the First Division wilderness, Bolton returned to the Premier League with a 3-0 play-off final victory over Preston North End. Now, ‘Big Sam’ had his chance in the big time.

It was a remarkable start. Bolton won their first three matches to top the table in August, including a 2-1 victory over Liverpool FC, who had won five trophies in the calendar year of 2001. In October, reigning champions Manchester United were added to the list of scalps and Bolton finished in 16th place and avoided relegation for the first time in their Premier League existence.

It was at this point when Allardyce was able to use his astuteness in the transfer market, bringing in big European names that seemed to be at the twilight of their careers. They included Bruno N’Gotty, Youri Djorkaeff, Ivan Campo and Jay-Jay Okocha. The 2002-2003 Premier League season was a real struggle but some inspirational displays from Okocha, most notably on the final day saw the Trotters just about avoid the drop at the expense of a much-more expensively assembled West Ham United squad.

That was Bolton’s last season of survival struggle. They enjoyed a real purple patch from 2003 to 2007. Allardyce took them to the 2004 League Cup final although they lost 2-1 in the showpiece event to Middlesbrough. They finished in the Premier League’s top 10 in four successive campaigns, including a stunning 6th place finish in 2004-2005 and fans at The Reebok Stadium enjoyed European football for the first time.

All this success led to Allardyce being shortlisted for the England job in the run-up to the 2006 World Cup finals. He was interviewed for the post but lost out to Middlesbrough manager Steve McClaren, who was Sven-Goran Eriksson’s assistant at the time. In 2007, Allardyce’s relationship with owner Phil Gartside became strained when he was refused more money to spend on players to make a bigger push for Champions League qualification. With two games left to play in 2006-2007, he resigned and was replaced by his assistant, Sammy Lee.

Victim of the Venky’s

Just two days after the season finished, Allardyce was confirmed as Newcastle United manager but it turned out to be an unhappy eight months on Tyneside. When he got the contract to manage the team, Freddie Shepherd was chairman but he was soon replaced at the helm by Mike Ashley.

Not the owner’s man, he was on a hiding to nothing and parted company in January 2008 after a disappointing run of results which included a Boxing Day defeat to relegation-threatened Wigan Athletic and collecting just one point from a possible six against hapless Derby County.

After 11 months on the sidelines, Sam returned to the dugout in December 2008 as the new manager of Blackburn Rovers. Blackburn were second-bottom and had lost five games on the bounce before his arrival. They went nine games unbeaten immediately on his arrival and guided them to safety in 15th position.

Despite being forced to sell Stephen Warnock and Roque Santa Cruz in the summer 2009 transfer window, Allardyce managed to balance the books and took Blackburn to a 10th place finish in 2009-2010 and a League Cup semi-final, where they lost 7-4 on aggregate to Aston Villa. Owner John Williams put the club up for sale in the summer of 2010 and four months into the 2010-2011 campaign, Blackburn became the first Premier League club to come under Indian ownership when the Venky’s took control.

Although Blackburn were sitting in a fairly secure 13th place in December 2010, he was sacked by the owners 24 hours after a late 2-1 defeat in the Lancashire Derby to his former club, Bolton Wanderers. His departure surprised many, including his great friend, Sir Alex Ferguson. One of Allardyce’s coaches, Steve Kean took over but Blackburn went down in May 2012 and haven’t been back in the Premier League since.

Revitalising West Ham

In June 2011, he was given the task of revitalising West Ham United, who had just been relegated from the Premier League. During the course of his first full season at Upton Park, 25 players left and 19 others arrived. It was mission accomplished as West Ham returned to the top-flight after just one season away, defeating Blackpool 2-1 in the play-off final.

Another 11 players arrived in the summer of 2012 including the likes of Matt Jarvis, Andy Carroll and James Collins. West Ham finished in a solid 10th place in 2012-2013 and at the end of the season; he extended his contract by a further two years.

The 2013-2014 season was much tougher and after back-to-back heavy defeats in cup ties in January 2014 at the hands of Nottingham Forest and Manchester City, ‘Big Sam’ received the dreaded vote of confidence from owners David Gold and David Sullivan, who vowed to stick by him despite growing fan pressure. Their loyalty was rewarded when Allardyce won the Manager of the Month award for February 2014 after steering the Hammers to four successive victories. They eventually finished in an uninspiring but safe 13th.

Teddy Sheringham was bought in as an attacking coach in 2014-2015 in an attempt to satisfy annoyed fans and try to give West Ham a more attacking feel to their play. It worked early on and the Londoners sat in fourth place on Christmas Day. However, they fell away dramatically in the second half of the campaign, fading to 12th place. Moments after the final whistle blew on West Ham’s campaign at St James’ Park, it was confirmed his contract would not be renewed by the board. The decision was amicable with Sam deciding to take a break from management.

That pause wouldn’t last long though…

Saving Sunderland…then the England call

In October 2015, he answered the call to help out Sunderland. The Black Cats were second-bottom and without a win from their first eight games. Dick Advocaat had resigned and it was up to Allardyce to keep the survival specialists afloat again in the Premier League.

Although there was an early Tyne & Wear Derby victory, results didn’t come in the early months and going into 2016, Sunderland were seven points off safety and second-bottom. He then made some astute signings in January, bringing in Jan Kirchhoff and Lamine Kone to shore up the backline and adding some creative spark with the addition of Wahbi Khazri.

On 16th April, Sunderland recorded a priceless 3-0 away win at Carrow Road against relegation rivals Norwich City which put survival in their hands. Back-to-back home  victories over Chelsea and Everton in the last eight days of the season secured another Great Escape for Sunderland.

Then, the call came to manage his country, 10 years after his near-miss with the role. England was his biggest challenge. It was an appointment that lasted just 67 days and one match. Adam Lallana scored the only goal of a 1-0 victory in a World Cup 2018 qualification match against Slovakia. It left him with a 100% win ratio but not a record he wants to remember.

In September 2016, The Daily Telegraph began an investigation into bribery within the game, posting a series of allegations about several senior figures. One was a video where reporters posing as businessmen filmed Allardyce allegedly offering to give advice on how to get around on FA rules on player third-party ownership. With searing public pressure growing, he parted company with the FA via mutual consent just over two months after landing his dream role. It looked like his managerial career was in tatters.

Salvation with Palace

He was back though in the Premier League dugout just three months later when Crystal Palace turned to him after firing Alan Pardew. He guided them to survival on the penultimate weekend as they defeated Hull City 4-0, consigning them to relegation in the process. Again, his signings were smart with title-winner Jeff Schlupp, Patrick van Aanholt and Luka Milivojevic among the January arrivals. There were victories in the run-in too over Arsenal, eventual champions Chelsea and Liverpool FC.

He resigned in May 2017 and hinted that the job he’d completed at Selhurst Park would be his last club position. However, he was back for his seventh spell at a Premier League side in November, signing a two-year contract to become Everton manager. Victory in Unsworth’s final match as interim boss meant he took over with the club sitting 13th but just a couple of points clear of the relegation zone. He guided them to a seven-match unbeaten run, taking them away from danger.

Despite a horrific away record, Goodison Park became a tougher place for sides to come with just the two Manchester clubs winning on Merseyside after his arrival at the club. Everton finished in eighth place and he had been hoping to build or even match his best-ever top-flight finish with the Toffees in 2018-2019 before being dismissed on 16th May 2018.

If there’s a great survivor of the management game in today’s industry, look no further than Sam Allardyce. Don’t be surprised to see him back in the dugout at a club who need a saviour next season.

Premier League Files: Jay-Jay Okocha

Premier League Career: Bolton Wanderers (2002-2006)

Jay-Jay Okocha was one of the stars of the Premier League in the early 2000s. His flair, panache and skill made him a player who could often do amazing things on the football pitch. Widely regarded as the best Nigerian player of his generation, Okocha enjoyed a wonderful time on English shores for four seasons as a Bolton Wanderers player.

Okocha won 75 international caps for Nigeria and is one of the most iconic African players of all-time. He played at three World Cup finals, reaching the round-of-16 in both 1994 and 1998. He was also part of the Nigeria squad that stunned Argentina to win the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta in the football competition. Football runs through Okocha’s DNA. In fact, his nephew is Alex Iwobi who currently plays in the Premier League for Arsenal and is now a Nigerian international himself.

He started his career in Germany and joined Eintracht Frankfurt in December 1991. Frankfurt might have not won any Bundesliga titles but were a thrilling team to watch and often finished in the higher positions in the table. Okocha played alongside Ghanaian hotshot Tony Yeboah, Norway’s Jørn Andersen and midfielder Maurizio Gaudino. Frankfurt finished third in 1993 and fifth in 1994 and Okocha won Goal of the Year too in 1993 for a mesmerising dribbling strike against Karlsruher SC.

In 1995, Okocha spectacularly fell out with coach Jupp Heynckes who also took a dislike to Yeboah and Gaudino. The latter pair moved on to pastures new in English football whilst Okocha stuck around until 1996 but Frankfurt’s first-ever relegation from the top-flight meant he would leave the Bundesliga behind and join Fenerbahce that summer.

He scored 30 times in 62 games across two seasons for the Turkish side and would become a Turkish citizen too before switching to Paris Saint-Germain in 1998, spending £14 million to acquire this gifted talent. By now, Okocha had a fearsome reputation as one of the best direct set-piece takers in world football. His time in PSG was more frustrating. They won the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2001 but league success eluded Jay-Jay, who did at least pass on his experience and talent to a young Brazilian superstar by the name of Ronaldinho during his four-year stay in the French capital.

After the 2002 World Cup, Okocha moved to Bolton Wanderers on a free transfer. It was seen as a wonderful coup for a club that were always likely to be fighting a relegation battle. He sparkled at his new challenge, scoring seven times including the club’s Goal of the Season winner against relegation rivals West Ham United in April 2003. On the final day of the season, a trademark free-kick helped Bolton to victory over Middlesbrough that ensured their Premier League survival at West Ham’s expense. In the celebrations that followed, Okocha taught his manager Sam Allardyce some of his dancing moves which went down well with all the supporters at The Reebok Stadium.

Allardyce appointed Okocha as the club’s new captain in the summer of 2003 following the retirement of long-serving defender Gudni Bergsson. He led the club to their first cup final in nine years, scoring two breathtaking goals in the League Cup semi-final defeat of Aston Villa. Bolton faced Middlesbrough at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium but came up short on the day, losing 2-1. Amazingly, Okocha failed to score a single league goal in the campaign but that wasn’t for the worth of trying. He ended his drought on the opening weekend of 2004-2005, scoring twice in the 4-1 victory over Charlton Athletic. Another four goals followed as Bolton achieved their highest finish in the Premier League, ending sixth in the final standings.

His final season saw the Nigerian removed of the captaincy in November 2005. His head had been turned by a potential move to the Middle East and Allardyce elected to give the armband to Kevin Nolan. Okocha carried on playing but it was clear the spark had gone and he rejected a contract extension at the end of the season to go and play in Qatar. It was a slightly acrimonious departure and his relationship with Bolton supporters wasn’t helped six years later following their Premier League relegation when he said: “We laid a good foundation at Bolton but, unfortunately, for the fans, they have to deal with Bolton being a struggling team again.”

After one year in Qatar, he returned to the English game to conclude his career at Hull City, retiring at the end of the 2007-2008 campaign. He is currently Chairman of the Delta State Football Association and has also expressed previously a desire to become Nigerian Football Federation President in the past.

He was so good, he was named twice! Jay-Jay Okocha certainly didn’t do dull during his time in the Premier League with Bolton Wanderers.

Memorable Matches: Middlesbrough 4-3 Bolton Wanderers (March 2006)

Goalscorers: Stelios Giannakopoulos 3, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 8 PEN, 47, Mark Viduka 30, Jay-Jay Okocha 58, Radhi Jaidi 81, Stuart Parnaby 90

Teams:

Middlesbrough: Mark Schwarzer, Andrew Davies, Ugo Ehiogu, Stuart Parnaby, Emanuel Pogatetz, Franck Queudrue, George Boateng, James Morrison (Lee Cattermole 62), Fabio Rochemback (Stewart Downing 83), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Yakubu 73), Mark Viduka

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Tal Ben-Haim, Ricardo Gardner, Radhi Jaidi, Joey O’Brien, Gary Speed (Abdoulaye Faye 85), Kevin Nolan (Hidetoshi Nakata 72), Jay-Jay Okocha, Stelios Giannakopoulos, Kevin Davies, Henrik Pedersen (Jared Borgetti 53)

Referee: Howard Webb, Attendance: 25,971

On Mothers’ Day 2006, Middlesbrough faced Bolton Wanderers in what turned out to be another pulsating afternoon at The Riverside Stadium. Boro had already featured in exciting encounters with Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic and the home crowd were going to be treated to seven goals, last-minute drama and plenty of errors from both teams.

It was reported that both Steve McClaren and Sam Allardyce were in the running to succeed Sven-Goran Eriksson as England manager after the 2006 World Cup finals, so there was a bit more incentive in this one for the two managers. Bolton were enjoying the better season domestically and took the lead after only three minutes. From a Jussi Jaaskelainen goal-kick, Middlesbrough had at least two opportunities to clear but didn’t and Stelios Giannakopoulos punished them to give the visitors the early lead.

Middlesbrough recovered quickly and by the half-hour mark, they were leading. First, Joey O’Brien was spotted by Howard Webb handling the ball from a free-kick and corrected awarded a penalty. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s spot-kick was not his finest but he just squeezed it underneath Jaaskelainen to find the equaliser. Then, Mark Viduka was played onside and latched onto Hasselbaink’s knockdown to earn Middlesbrough a half-time lead.

Both defences were looking ropey and the pattern continued into the second half. Middlesbrough went 3-1 ahead on 47 minutes. Hasselbaink latched onto a long pass and got to the ball before the onrushing Jaaskelainen. He dinked his effort over the Finnish goalkeeper to put clear daylight between the sides. It was also Middlesbrough’s 500th goal in the Premier League.

That should have finished Bolton off but they produced a stirring comeback. Five minutes after his arrival from the bench, Jared Borgetti was fouled by Ugo Ehiogu in the penalty area. Webb awarded his second penalty of the afternoon. Jay-Jay Okocha’s penalty was poor and Mark Schwarzer guessed right to deny him but only momentarily. The Nigerian was sharpest to the rebound to score and bring Allardyce’s side back into the match. Nine minutes from time, they levelled proceedings. Okocha’s cross found an unmarked Radhi Jaidi and the Tunisian centre-back made no mistake with his header to beat Schwarzer.

Despite it being 3-3, there was a sense that one side would snatch all three points and it was Middlesbrough who ended up on the right part of the scoreline. Substitute Yakubu put in a decisive ball into the danger area and defender Stuart Parnaby was in the right place to make the contact required. Jaaskelainen was beaten and so were Bolton Wanderers. McClaren also beat Allardyce to the England vacancy by the end of the season but Bolton did finish six places higher in the final table.

Premier League Rewind: 25th-27th October 2014

Results: West Ham United 2-1 Manchester City, Liverpool FC 0-0 Hull City, Southampton 1-0 Stoke City, Sunderland 0-2 Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Crystal Palace, Swansea City 2-0 Leicester City, Burnley 1-3 Everton, Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Newcastle United, Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea, Queens Park Rangers 2-0 Aston Villa

Nine games into the 2014-2015 season and Chelsea were in pole position to regain the Premier League title from Manchester City. The Blues were still undefeated in the campaign and looking tough to catch for the chasing pack.

On the 25th-27th October weekend, Jose Mourinho took his team to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United. It was a first meeting between Mourinho and Louis van Gaal since the 2010 UEFA Champions League final. There was plenty of mutual respect between the managers in the build-up to this clash but it looked like Mourinho would have the final say. Didier Drogba headed the visitors infront and it looked like the league leaders would hold onto a 1-0 lead at full-time. However, with moments remaining, Manchester United won a free-kick which led to the late dismissal of Branislav Ivanovic. From the resultant set-piece, Robin van Persie thrashed home an equaliser to ensure Chelsea dropped points for only the second time this season.

Their lead over the Red Devils was still a healthy 10 points. Worse still for Van Gaal, his team had won just three from nine matches so far and were languishing in eighth spot in the table. Chelsea’s nearest pursuers were Southampton. They regained second position after Sadio Mane’s goal was enough to beat Stoke City 1-0.

They replaced Manchester City in the top two after the reigning champions fell to a 2-1 defeat away at West Ham United. It was their second league loss of the season. The decisive goal ultimately came from Diafra Sakho, who scored in his sixth successive Premier League match for the club. Despite a wonderful strike from David Silva, City left Upton Park empty-handed and West Ham climbed into the top four much to the delight of Russell Brand. The Hammers’ fan interrupted a post-match interview to congratulate manager Sam Allardyce.

After their 8-0 mauling a week earlier to Southampton, Sunderland’s woes continued. At home to Arsenal, Vito Mannone made two terrible mistakes, allowing Alexis Sanchez to score twice and allow the visitors to leave with all three points in a 2-0 victory. In fact, just six points covered West Ham in fourth position to Aston Villa in 15th. Villa’s fifth successive defeat came on Monday Night Football, losing 2-0 to Queens Park Rangers. Charlie Austin scored a double which was enough to lift QPR off the foot of the Premier League table. Aston Villa had now failed to score in over 500 minutes of Premier League football. Another team struggling were Leicester City. They were now without a win in four games after losing 2-0 to Swansea City.

QPR were replaced at the bottom of the table by Burnley, who lost 3-1 at home to Everton. Veteran forward Samuel Eto’o scored twice for Everton who moved into the top half with back-to-back victories. Sunderland dropped into the bottom three at the expense of their Tyne & Wear rivals, Newcastle United. Having not won any of their first seven games, the Magpies were about to embark on a five-match winning sequence. The second of these came at White Hart Lane, defeating Tottenham Hotspur 2-1.

What else happened in October 2014?

  • UKIP receives its first MP when Douglas Carswell, who defected to the party from the Conservatives, wins the by-election in Clacton.
  • The SNP confirms Nicola Sturgeon will succeed Alex Salmond as leader of the party after she was the only candidate in a leadership ballot.
  • Johann Lamont resigns as leader of the Scottish Labour Party with immediate effect.
  • Nancy Birtwhistle wins the fifth series of “The Great British Bake Off.”
  • Racing driver Jules Bianchi is left with life-threatening injuries after spinning off and hitting a recovery truck during the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. He will succumb to those injuries in July 2015.
  • EastEnders confirms omnibus editions of the soap from April 2015 will be stopped because of declining viewing figures.
  • IF Elfsborg manager and former Sheffield Wednesday player Klas Ingesson dies at the age of just 46 from the effects of multiple myeloma.

Shock Results: Manchester United 1-2 Bolton Wanderers (October 2001)

Goalscorers: Juan Sebastian Veron 25, Kevin Nolan 35, Michael Ricketts 84

Teams:

Manchester United: Fabien Barthez, Phil Neville, David May (Gary Neville 78), Wes Brown, Mikael Silvestre, Nicky Butt, Juan Sebastian Veron, Paul Scholes (Ryan Giggs 66), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke (Luke Chadwick 67)

Bolton Wanderers: Jussi Jaaskelainen, Simon Charlton, Gudni Bergsson, Bruno N’Gotty, Mike Whitlow, Bo Hansen (Anthony Barness 82), Paul Warhurst (Jermaine Johnson 54), Kevin Nolan, Per Frandsen, Ricardo Gardner, Michael Ricketts

Referee: Graham Barber, Attendance: 67,559

This was the 100th meeting between Manchester United and Bolton Wanderers. After this surprising victory in October 2001, Sam Allardyce said: “There is no better feeling, apart from watching my children being born – it is my best result as a manager.”

Bolton had made a strong start to their Premier League return and had already beaten Liverpool FC and held Arsenal at Highbury. However, they had just lost 4-0 at home to Newcastle United seven days earlier.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side weren’t at their free-flowing best and had been beaten in the UEFA Champions League in midweek by Deportivo La Coruna. Nevertheless, they were expected to brush the Trotters’ side aside with relative ease infront of their biggest crowd of the season.

Ferguson did make eight changes following the defeat to the Spanish side in midweek and as expected, they did a lot of the pressing in the opening exchanges with Bolton sitting and containing their more fancied opponents. Allardyce’s tactic was working until the 25th minute.

Juan Sebastian Veron drove a free-kick into the back of the Bolton net from 30 yards out. However, 11 minutes later, the visitors’ silenced the Old Trafford faithful with an equaliser that suggested they were playing with utmost confidence. Bruno N’Gotty floated a long ball towards the back post. It was met by Michael Ricketts, who nodded the ball down into the path of Kevin Nolan. Nolan hit the deftest of volleys and it flew into the back of the net. Fabien Barthez had absolutely no chance.

The Red Devils were sprung into life by this shock equaliser and Jussi Jaaskelainen had to be sharp to make a remarkable double save to deny Paul Scholes and Andy Cole in very quick succession. Jaaskelainen’s acrobatics here would see him earn a nomination for the Premier League Save of the Decade at the 10 Seasons’ Awards. He was beaten by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer shortly afterwards but the Norwegian was denied by an offside flag.

Many would have felt Bolton would try and hold on for a fantastic point but they sensed a real upset and having matched the men from Old Trafford throughout the second half, they seized their opportunity six minutes from the end. Ricketts shook off the attentions of Wes Brown, broke clear and smashed the ball past Barthez to set Allardyce’s side up for only their second win at the Theatre of Dreams in 40 years.

Bolton would stay up in 16th place on their return to the Premier League. Six home defeats for Manchester United during the season would see Ferguson’s side restricted to a third-place finish, nine points adrift of eventual champions Arsenal.

Iconic Moments: Big Sam does it again (May 2016)

When Dick Advocaat decided to walk out on Sunderland in the early days of October 2015, things look grim again for the Black Cats. With yet another relegation scrap on the horizon, they turned to survival specialist Sam Allardyce to fill the managerial vacancy.

Initially, there wasn’t much of a bounce despite another Tyne & Wear derby victory over Newcastle United and Sunderland went into 2016 seven points adrift of safety. By early April, performances had steadily improved but results still weren’t coming. The Wearsiders’ still looked odds-on to be relegated.

They then beat relegation rivals Norwich City 3-0 at Carrow Road in mid-April, which turned out to be a decisive moment. It meant Allardyce now had managed to wrestle control in the battle to stay alive in the top-flight. It was a time when both Sunderland and Newcastle United were collecting points at a regular rate. It was still all to play for going into the final month of the season.

Sunderland had two games at home against Chelsea and Everton. Maximum points would be enough to see them beat relegation again for a fourth successive season where their long-term future looked risky. Jermain Defoe scored a crucial winner at home to Chelsea as Sunderland won 3-2. Newcastle’s failure to beat already relegated Aston Villa ensured a victory in the midweek fixture against Everton would secure safety.

What a time then for Lamine Kone to come up with his first two Sunderland goals. Patrick van Aanholt’s free-kick completed the scoring. Everton were very poor and the 3-0 final scoreline didn’t flatter Sunderland. This latest Everton performance cost Roberto Martinez his job a day later. For Sunderland, it kept them safe and this escape would earn Big Sam briefly at least the call to manage his country.

He had done it again and still has never been relegated from the top-flight with any club.