Bolton might have been saved this week but interim manager Jimmy Phillips insists they need a new head coach urgently after a 5-0 defeat at Gillingham pushed them further back from the League One pack.
The Trotters were saved from English Football League expulsion this week but remain on minus 11 points, 15 from safety, after an uncertain start to the new campaign.
But with new owners Football Ventures (Whites) Limited in and their immediate future secure, Phillips – the club’s academy manager – warned the hard work has only just started.
“From a personal note I’m delighted that we’ve still got a football club. It’s been very difficult in recent weeks, especially with the results, but we’ve still got a club we all get behind,” he said.
“We’ve seen difficult times before, in the 1980s in particular, and we came back and enjoyed Premier League and European football just a few years ago.
“Getting a new manager in the building next week and a busy transfer deadline day on Monday will be key to our survival hopes.
“The new owners were interviewing managerial candidates on Friday and hopefully they’ve come across somebody who is suitable for the job.
“We need people who have played league football before with big heart and plenty of fight in them.
“We’ve got 39 games to play and we probably need to win four or five more than the others around us.
“It’s achievable – the sooner we get our first three points the better. But nobody is doubting the tough task we’ve got.”
Bolton, who started the season with a 12-point deduction after going into administration, picked four teenagers and just one player over 30 and that lack of experience showed.
Gillingham took full advantage as Connor Ogilvie put them ahead. Olly Lee doubled their lead before half-time and then added another after the break, following Brandon Hanlan’s tap-in.
A Jordan Boon own goal finished Bolton off but Phillips refused to criticise his side.
“We can’t complain, got to knuckle down and keep working hard. The younger lads have experienced some very harsh lessons in English football this season,” he said.
“But they’ve applied themselves well, hopefully they’ve learned a lot and their development will be accelerated because of exposure they’ve had in recent weeks.”
For Gillingham, it was a first win of the season and a first victory under boss Steve Evans.
“We got the points today but the real winners are Bolton. You could see how much it means to their fans. Their turn out here today was fantastic,” he said.
“That football club is steeped in history and we’re delighted that they survived. It was important that Bolton Wanderers turned up for a game today.
“You’re a bit apprehensive on the sidelines when you miss three or four clear chances early on.
“But when the first goal went in and quality of play started to come through, they’re probably fortunate that it’s only 5-0 and not 15.”