HOW followers of Bolton Wanderers must be wishing they could turn back the clock.
Since losing their Premier League status on the final day of the 2011-12 season, the Trotters seem to have lurched from one crisis to another.
The heady days of Sam Allardyce, forays into Europe and finishing sixth in the top flight are now just a distant memory at the Reebok Stadium.
Current boss Dougie Freedman is fighting for his job, with calls for his head intensifying after defeat at Ipswich six days ago had left them two places above the relegation zone.
And while the Scot is confident he retains the backing of owner Eddie Davies and chairman Phil Gartside, 63 per cent of the 430 supporters who voted on an internet poll were in favour of sacking him.
Freedman is adamant he can ride out the storm, even though he admits the situation is more difficult than anything he encountered at former club Crystal Palace where he had to deal with administration.
Speaking this week to the Bolton News, he said: “It is the hardest time I have faced but that is why I am here.
"This is my apprenticeship as a manager. I have done it for three or four years now and people in the game tell me the apprenticeship might last for 20.
“You have to stay strong and positive and make sure everyone understands what your situation is. I genuinely believe once we get one win, we will get a lot and there hasn’t been much in the games recently.”
Freedman will be hoping for a similar turnaround to last season when Wanderers embarked on a 17-match run which took them from the depths of the Championship to the brink of the play-offs.
At the start of February, Bolton were 20th – the position they currently occupy – before 10 wins and four draws saw them finish seventh, with Leicester pipping them on goal difference.
However, on current form, the majority of Wanderers supporters are approaching the remainder of this season with trepidation rather than optimism and recent events have done little to help.
Freedman has tried to make supporters understand the constraints he is working under with the situation highlighted by a 7-1 hammering at Reading last month.
On New Year’s Eve, the club revealed its debts had grown to a staggering £163.8million – with £50.7m haemorrhaging during the 12 months to June 2013 – raising fears they may follow Leeds and Portsmouth into financial crisis.
The eye-watering loss in a single year left Bolton with the unwant-ed distinction of becoming the fifth club to have lost more than £50m over 12 months – but the only one outside of the Premier League.
While owner Davies, who took over Wanderers for £2.5m in 2003, has said he has no plans to walk away, the club’s ability to absorb such astronomical losses has been questioned.
A lack of major squad strengthening during the January transfer window, coupled with the sale to Swansea of striker David Ngog in a cut-price deal, did little to appease the club’s followers, with Millwall midfielder Liam Trotter their only addition.