When Bolton Wanderers last visited the Boleyn Ground for West Ham United's final home fixture of the 2006/07 campaign, they were under the direction of a new manager: Sammy Lee. Six months on from that 3-1 defeat that did much for the home side's survival hopes, that mantle has changed hands again, with Gary Megson appointed as Lee's successor last week.
Speaking before today's match, Alan Curbishley admitted he found the rapidly decreasing tenure of the average manager difficult to fathom.
"It's quite amazing that the manager's position seems to be becoming more short-term," the West Ham United manager said. "It's hard to imagine anyone any one coming in and doing 15 years at this point. I had 15 years at Charlton but Ian Dowie had less than 15 games there. Sam Allardyce had ten years at Bolton, Sammy Lee had just over ten games.
"Bolton are going back to being Bolton. They are putting out a settled side so we're expecting a really tough game. You're never really stranded in the bottom three. One or two wins at this point in the season can change everything."
Curbishley paid tribute to his players, who have been performing well and working hard to fill in the gaps caused by injuries. "We're assessing the squad at the moment," he admitted. "We took a couple of knocks against Coventry on Tuesday, but we've just got to get on with it. The players have got to take great credit. They've reacted really positively, even when they've been called on to play out of position.
"Craig Bellamy has a chance of being fit today. It's been a stop-start season for him where he rests for a couple of days and feels OK, then plays and feels discomfort. Mark Noble and Hayden Mullins have both got strains but they a chance of being involved. We took Jack Collison and James Tomkins to Coventry with us as our 17th and 18th players so they give us more options. We'll have Nobby Solano and Henri Camara back in contention today as well after being cup-tied.
"We've picked up some good results going into today's game. Sunderland came out strong but we held firm and got result. Portsmouth was a tough game but we got a point and Coventry came at us on Tuesday but we won that, so great credit to the players."
To see Alan Curbishley speaking before the visit of Bolton Wanderers, click here