SussexBaggie Speaks? Bolton and speculation

Last updated : 09 May 2012 By Site Editor

Last weekend saw us come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at Bolton Wanderers, a result which could see them relegated from the Premier League.

Late goals from Chris Brunt and James Morrison ensured that the 4,600 Albion fans who made the journey up to the Reebok Stadium could celebrate at the final whistle.

With Roy Hodgson being announced as the new England manager five days before the game, many Albion fans decided to use the last away game of the season – which has always seen supporters attend the game in fancy dress – to celebrate Hodgson’s time in charge by wearing England shirts, flags and even Hodgson face masks.

Supporters are expecting to do much the same when we host Arsenal at The Hawthorns on Sunday in what is our final game of the season, with Hodgson officially leaving the club immediately after the game.

New boss

Speculation of who is going to succeed Hodgson has seen several names linked with the club over the last few weeks, with one name in particular capturing the imagination of Albion fans.

It was confirmed in the local press yesterday (Tuesday) that the club had held an informal meeting with former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri over becoming our new manager.

This does not mean that Ranieri will get the job, but it is encouraging that such a high-profile name has expressed their interest in joining the club – as he did publicly during ESPN’s live coverage of the FA Cup final on Saturday – and that he is willing to sit down and discuss the possibility.

I personally believe that the club may still be looking at appointing Chris Hughton, as he has done a very good job at Newcastle United and Birmingham City over the last few years, and was interviewed by Jeremy Peace and Dan Ashworth after Roberto Di Matteo was sacked last February.

It would not be possible for the club to speak to Hughton at the moment, as Birmingham are currently involved in the Championship play-offs. However, the situation regarding Hughton may become clearer after tomorrow when Blackpool visit St Andrews for the second leg of the play-off semi-final.

If Birmingham are knocked out, I would be surprised if the club don’t at least approach Hughton to try and establish whether he would be interested in joining us or not. However, if they go through, it means the club would have to wait until after the 19th May at least (the day of the Championship play-off final) to approach Hughton.

Cult hero

Away from speculation over the managerial situation, Paul Scharner has confirmed that he will be leaving the club over the summer.

Despite not being the most technically-gifted player in the squad or a regular starter for quite a lot of his two seasons here, his character off the pitch has made him a real fans favourite, with his knack of scoring important goals helping him enjoy such cult hero status from the Albion faithful.

To sum up his character, he was the only current player to attend the Supporters Club end of season awards dinner on Tuesday night and also ensured that signed postcards were distributed to every supporter who travelled to Bolton on the official coaches on Sunday.

As much as Sunday will be about celebrating Hodgson’s time in charge of the club, I think the impact Scharner has made is certainly worthy of a few chants as well.

It will undoubtedly be a tough game on Sunday, hopefully we can play well and pick up a positive result to finish the season in the best possible manner.

Who do you want to succeed Roy Hodgson? Have your say here at Baggies Banter.