Keith Hill and David Flitcroft came to Bolton as the club was stepping out of administration and attempted to forge a squad in record time.
Hopes of survival in League One have gradually faded as results since the turn of the year have failed to meet with expectation – fuelled in part by a procession of injuries and another series of wholesale player changes in January.
Fans’ dissatisfaction has been clear and the visit of Peterborough United tomorrow will be the first of a 10-game countdown to a summer when it is hoped Bolton can finally start building again.
But in the meantime, the task of motivating the squad is not a simple one.
“I have played for managers and been round managers who carry a performance, carry a negative atmosphere all week. I have had to pull people myself and say ‘hey, you are killing the mood’ if I felt it was necessary,” explained Flitcroft.
“It is something I have always been able to do and I know Hilly has been able to do, come bouncing in no matter what flak we have taken, who is against you at that point, you come in fighting and show the troops you are fighting.
“Every day is an opportunity for us to try and win, drive the squad forward.
“There are a lot of young players in this team and they need to be guided. They haven’t had an experience like this in their careers before, how this season has unfolded.
“It is really important that we bounce in and reinforce the message, whatever day that is.
“There has been a good reaction on the training ground every day, there really has, but the disappointing ones were not getting the Bolton fans a result at Coventry and Blackpool – they were the ones that still hurt a little bit.
“You hurt on the inside but as a coach and a manager you can’t show it because there are games to go and win."