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Coyle takes Bolton to new level

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Phil McNulty | 12:40 UK time, Monday, 22 November 2010

Only weeks after his appointment as Bolton Wanderers manager, Owen Coyle fixed his gaze on a banner at The Reebok Stadium that read: "He's Not The Messiah, He's A Very Naughty Boy."

The message, taken from "Monty Python's Life Of Brian", was not the work of Bolton fans unimpressed by Gary Megson's successor. It was brandished by Burnley supporters still nursing an acute sense of betrayal that the man they labelled "God" had made an acrimonious 31-mile journey across Lancashire.

Coyle's status at Turf Moor was cemented by taking Burnley into the Premier League then polishing the town's pride even further with victories against giants such as Manchester United on a thunderous night at the famous old ground.

It was not just the pain of Coyle's loss that made Burnley's fans lash out, it was the knowledge that their fierce rivals and near neighbours had lured away one of the game's most promising young managers.

Coyle has in turn become Bolton's footballing Messiah, taking them from the lower reaches of the Premier League to fifth place after an impressive start to the season.

Kevin Davies scores from the spot against Newcastle - photo: Press Association

Now it is confession time - and the revisiting of a statement that caused huge angst among Bolton fans when I made it at the time of Coyle's appointment.

I stated that I feared the man who made his name at St. Johnstone before moving to Burnley had made a "sideways" move by taking up Bolton's offer, and those same fans (perfectly legitimately it should be said) have been offering me the odd reminder recently.

The logic? I felt Coyle was a manager of such outstanding promise that if he continued his good work at Burnley he would end up attracting much bigger suitors than Bolton, so why make the switch? There was never any doubt about his quality, or indeed the wisdom of Bolton making such an appointment.

The argument still holds good in part because Coyle is doing so well at the Reebok that he will put himself in the frame for any bigger and better vacancies that come along.

But have Bolton or Coyle gone "sideways" since he made his move? Not one bit - it has been forward all the way under this progressive 44-year-old.

Coyle's feet are on the ground as he describes talk of European football as "fanciful", but Bolton's fans have got their heads in the clouds as both Tottenham and Newcastle have been comprehensively beaten in successive home games.

They have had their heads in the clouds before, usually watching the methods employed by Sam Allardyce and Megson, but under Coyle there is a mix-and-match of styles that have married the best of the old with new finesse and his often-stated adherence to a passing game.

And it has all been done without wielding the chequebook of Bolton's publicity-shy owner Eddie Davies. Coyle has not spent big, but he has acquired wisely and improved vastly on what Megson left behind.

Kevin Davies remains the central figure around which Bolton revolve, but the transformation in Johan Elmander is perhaps the most surprising aspect of their renaissance. The Sweden striker, who hung like a £10m millstone around Megson's neck, has been a cornerstone of Coyle's revival.

The goal Elmander scored in the win at Wolves demonstrated such sleight of foot, movement and awareness of time and space in the penalty area that it was barely credible when set alongside his previous struggles.

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Coyle gives his reaction to Bolton's win over Newcastle

Another Megson signing, Chung-Yong Lee, continues to flourish and Bolton are now a far more attractive proposition than in the past. Megson clearly had an eye for a player, but Coyle's trick has been to get the best out of them.

For further insight into his success, I spoke to former Bolton Wanderers manager and expert BBC analyst Jimmy Armfield, who has been a regular at The Reebok this season.

He told me: "I thought Bolton showed real signs under Owen Coyle last season and it has continued this season. They have got a nice balance in midfield. I like the American Stuart Holden, who is a really important player.

"They have Lee and Matt Taylor on the flanks, with Holden and Fabrice Muamba in the middle. Muamba is more of a holding player and a good athlete, so it all balances itself out.

"Gary Cahill is also important at the back, but Kevin Davies is the most important one of all. He is good on the ground and in the air and has a real knack of spotting danger. People talk about the physical side of his game, but he can play and has a really good temperament.

"Elmander has come on so much as well. He was raw before, but he is playing to his best attributes now and has got a lot of goals this season."

The glue knitting it all together, however, is the manager with the fierce work ethic and a boundless passion that has transmitted itself to Bolton's players, as well as a set of supporters who appeared to have fallen out of love with the game under the Megson regime.

Armfield added: "I am really impressed by Coyle's enthusiasm. The secret for any manager, and I think it's the same with Ian Holloway at Blackpool, is to have the knack of motivating players and taking them along with what you want.

"Owen seems to genuinely believe in himself. He had success at St. Johnstone, success at Burnley and it was sad when it ended with a sour taste, and now he is doing well at Bolton.

"He loves the game and you can sense that by just listening to him. He talks 20 to the dozen about the game and does it with real passion and enthusiasm. Wherever he has been he has been reasonably successful and I can see Bolton finishing in the top half of the table this season, which for a club in a Lancashire town would represent a good achievement."

BBC Sport's Alan Hansen is another Coyle admirer, telling me: "He has married Bolton's old and new styles together well. People talk about the long ball and the short ball, but the simple truth is that it is all about the right ball. I think Owen understands this and does not restrict himself tactically or when it comes to pattern or style of play.

"He has integrated two methods and made Bolton a more potent team, and one that is more difficult to play against. It is always easier to combat a team when you know they are going to play in one certain style, but Owen has shown it can be varied and the results are there for all to see.

"Owen has also coaxed the best out of players who had struggled before he got there. Elmander is the prime example. He was distinctly average last season, but Owen has got him and the rest of the team playing with real confidence."

Such was Coyle's standing at Burnley that a local butcher delivered the mighty accolade of naming a sausage after him. If he continues his success story at Bolton the rewards could be even greater.

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Firstly, only people who know nothing about Bolton or in fact football would say that a move from Burnley to Bolton is a sideways move. Bolton have been superior to Burnley for years.

    All Bolton fans knew he was making the right decision. Better facilities, more money and a better chance to improve. What was he ever really going to achieve with Burnley? They were never going to spend millions to establish themselves. Bolton have ambition to match Coyle.

    Saying that, Coyle will outgrow Bolton in the same way Cahill and Chung Yong will but i can't see him moving on for 2 or 3 years just yet. 44 years old in management is young and he has alot to learn but he will go on to become a top top manager.

    Sideways move? Burnley lie in 10th position in the Championship and with their lack of ambition and current manager will be staying there for some time to come. Bolton however are on the march. The only way is up under Coyle.

  • Comment number 2.

    Hes a superb manager and always has been. Im a scotsman and if we could produce players like we do managers we could win the bloody world cup!

    In all seriousness though, I think bolton will keep him for a couple of years, or at least until fergie retires....

  • Comment number 3.

    I am a big fan of Owen but I feel this blog is premature:

    Saturday, 27 November 2010 Bolton v Blackpool
    Saturday, 4 December 2010 Man City v Bolton
    Sunday, 12 December 2010 Bolton v Blackburn
    Saturday, 18 December 2010 Sunderland v Bolton
    Sunday, 26 December 2010 Bolton v West Brom
    Wednesday, 29 December 2010 Chelsea v Bolton
    Saturday, 1 January 2011 Liverpool v Bolton, 15:00

    Their run has been a fairly easy start with most of the difficult games being at home. Their next 7 games include 4 of the toughest away games, so I would expect them to fall down a bit.

    That said I still fancy them for a top 10 finish. It may have been a sideways move as far as the league positions were concerned at the time, however with all due respect to Burnley they were punching above their weight whilst Bolton were not.

  • Comment number 4.

    Owen Coyle really impresses me and he has really done wonders at Bolton in such a short space of time.

    The difference between him and Gary Megson is like chalk and cheese but Owen shows that the managers who whine and make excuses about not being able to improve sides often can't do it because they themselves lack the capabilities to do so. Coyle really seems to possess the knack of improving footballers and encouraging positive thinking.

    Don't want to be disrespectful to Bolton and their fans but if he continues to do well there then an even bigger job could be waiting around the corner.

  • Comment number 5.

    Depending on what Mourinho does I could see Moyes to United and Coyle to Everton in a couple of years. Bolton fans should be able to relax in the knowledge that won't be for some time so he could well see them back to a level they were at in the Allardyce years.

    I'd also be mindful of recent praise of Hughton and Di Matteo after their brief flirtations with top 4 spots which were followed by runs of poor form. The league is so competitive and unpredictable at the moment teams can climb half a dozen places with the right sequence of results and equally tumble back if just a couple of bad performances come along together.

  • Comment number 6.

    "Firstly, only people who know nothing about Bolton or in fact football would say that a move from Burnley to Bolton is a sideways move. Bolton have been superior to Burnley for years."


    Your wrong, Phil knows everything about football and is great with his predictions!


    Like Liverpool winning the league last year
    Gerrard's best position behind the striker
    Arsenal can win the league
    Spurs can win the league (a week later)


    etc etc etc


    He has more success stories then Mystic Meg!

  • Comment number 7.

    For once, this is a decent blog by Phil McNulty and it's great to see him finally write about a topic that doesn't involve Everton or one of the top four sides.

  • Comment number 8.

    Why on earth is there such vitriol aimed at McNulty's blogs? - they are aimed to get a debate started and often are clearly not what he himself believes but rather a recent talking point...
    I feel Coyle's best achievement has been getting players who in my opinion looked short of quality under Megson now playing to their full potential.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hes a superb manager and always has been. Im a scotsman and if we could produce players like we do managers we could win the bloody world cup!

    In all seriousness though, I think bolton will keep him for a couple of years, or at least until fergie retires....
    =======================================

    Weezer316, I believe he is actually Irish and played for them (unsure of how many caps he achieved though!)

    The accent comes from living in Scotland for years!

  • Comment number 10.

    yeh the guys doing a great job, whats worrying for bolton though is could this all fall apart due to financial problems? this would be a shame for owen and the team. will players be sold and such? could someone a little more in the know fill me in, its not covered in the article

  • Comment number 11.

    9. At 5:00pm on 22 Nov 2010, Coplandrdloyal wrote:
    Hes a superb manager and always has been. Im a scotsman and if we could produce players like we do managers we could win the bloody world cup!
    =======================================

    Weezer316, I believe he is actually Irish and played for them (unsure of how many caps he achieved though!)

    The accent comes from living in Scotland for years!

    ==================================================================

    Coyle was born in Paisley, Scotland although he is of Irish descent, like many Scots people.

  • Comment number 12.

    As a neutral, while I think Bolton are playing really well and are scoring goals I'm another who thinks this blog's premature - last week Sunderland were being praised, couple of weeks before WBA, Newcastle, Blackpool etc, and that given the league's so tight in a couple of weeks they could be in the lower bottom half of the table - but if that's the case I severely doubt Coyle's tactics and management style would have changed in anyway.

    Of course the other things is what's going to happen in January and will Bolton be in a position to hold on to the likes of Cahill??

    However, the one story that really is worth a blog in my view is on West Ham - given their position in the league and lack of playing well it doesn't seem premature to me to ask whether their manager is up to it?

  • Comment number 13.

    Nice to see a blog about one of the 'so called lesser teams' for a change, instead of the endless Man Utd/Liverpool analysis.

    Maybe have a look at another one next week Phil… There are 17 to choose from! (Sorry. There's just no pleasing some people is there?!)

    What I mean is, well done Phil for addressing the work Owen Coyle has done at Bolton and resisting the temptation to write about 'Liverpool's potential return to form' or 'Rooney's hostile reception'.

    Hopefully this is the start of the blog topics becoming as varied and interesting as the entire Premier League currently is…

  • Comment number 14.

    To all those sceptics who say that things can change with a couple of bad results. Well, that's always true.

    Coyle is doing well with Bolton at the moment and is worthy of the praise he has garnered so far. As for it continuing? That's something best assessed at the end of the season.

    As a neutral observer, I always enjoy seeing one of the "smaller" teams giving the big 4 (or is it 5 these days) a run for their money.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    Oh and well done to Bolton and Owen Coyle on the season so far.

    Ive drafted in Elmander in my Fantasy Team, hope he doesnt let me down.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hate to say we told you so Phil...but we told you so....Coyle moving from Burnley was always a step up and there is no doubt that he has instilled some real confidence and belief in a team of players who were not bad in the first place. We were just saddled with a poor negative thinking manager in Megson whose only real strenght was to antagonise players and fans alike...

    Coyle may well move on to a bigger club one day and if he does its because of the superb job he will have done at BWFC..

    I dont think we will need to worry about this though for some time!

  • Comment number 18.

    I remember diagreeing with you at the time but fair play to you Phil - the media (and society in general) needs more people who are willing to hold their hands up and say 'actually, i was wrong about that one'.

  • Comment number 19.

    Great article Phil and its nice to see an extension of previous articles you have done on the same topic. Hopefully the story continues and we can look forward to more interesting discussion on the progress of this obviously talented manager.
    Newcastle found out the hard way on Saturday (As Tottenham did earlier in the season) that Bolton are no longer a 1 dimensional threat and in Davies and Elmander they have enough fire power up front to threaten any defence. I expect the 4-4-2 adopted by Newcastle at the weekend will be one of the last that visits the Reebok based on their current form.
    Owen Coyle has obviously got something about him that few managers demonstrtate these days. He makes players want to play for him and obviously knows how to get a team playing football the right way. Everything we have seen of him so far suggests there is a very bright career ahead and if Bolton and Coyle can maintain the current magic they have then who knows where this season will take them!!
    Also, how many managers will you see playing in the reserves alongside their squad members and scoring goals?? Chipping the opposition keeper no less. You wont see Arsene Wenger doing that :)

  • Comment number 20.

    Just 16 Comments?

    So the usual "Phil, why not write about teams other than Liverpool, United, Chelsea and Arsenal, brigade," are just as apathetic as the rest of the world about clubs other than those mentioned.

    In fact, if it isn't about the "Top Four" then, frankly, few if any at all are interested. I know I"m not.

    There's no excuses for moaning in future now that Phil has delivered the very thing so many have been whining and pining for.

    Where are they now...eh, Phil?

    Having said that, I have no idea if it's a good or bad piece because, of course, I didn't read it. I, like almost everyone else, have absolutely no interest in the likes of Bolton...

  • Comment number 21.

    9. At 5:00pm on 22 Nov 2010, Coplandrdloyal wrote:
    Hes a superb manager and always has been. Im a scotsman and if we could produce players like we do managers we could win the bloody world cup!
    =======================================

    Weezer316, I believe he is actually Irish and played for them (unsure of how many caps he achieved though!)

    The accent comes from living in Scotland for years!

    ==================================================================

    Coyle was born in Paisley, Scotland although he is of Irish descent, like many Scots people.
    ------------------------------

    Thats what I was trying to say, haha oops!

  • Comment number 22.

    I feel that as soon as bolton pick up a couple of injuries, (especially to impotant players such as cahill and davies) they will begin to slide. Would they be able to cope with an injury crisis like the ones at spurs or villa recently?

  • Comment number 23.

    "Weezer316, I believe he is actually Irish and played for them (unsure of how many caps he achieved though!)

    The accent comes from living in Scotland for years!"

    Actually, he was born and bred in Paisley near Glasgow. He got one cap for Ireland by virtue of his granny being Irish (or something like that).

    He seems like a really nice geniune guy. I hope he does well. I can't agree with McNulty that his move to Bolton was a sideways move, I see his point that maybe a "bigger club" would have come in for him at some point but maybe not! Bolton represented a bigger budget, a fairly well established Premier League team and the chance to move on from simply trying to survive in the Prem.

  • Comment number 24.

    The debt issue has been blown totally out of proportion.

    As our Chairman said in our local paper this morning, we owe 85/93 million to our owner. We owe just 10 million to the bank which in modern football is hardly anything.

    Its just the same situation as Chelsea and Man City but i bet they owe alot more than 85 million to their owners! Eddie Davies, the owner said he will not call his money in. The club pays him back 10% per annum of whatever debt we have so why would he?

    Its no big deal according to the board and apparently Coyle has some money to spend in January.

  • Comment number 25.

    You wrote about Bolton alas!!!!! The pressure was much & paid off, lol. Nice you responded.

  • Comment number 26.

    The bulk of the money is owed to Eddie Davies who is a Bolton fan through and through....He wont call in the debt..

    How refreshing is it to have a Premier leagus club owned by one of its own as opposed to some obscure Sheikh or oil tycoon from Russia...


    They could very easily get bored and pull the plug. Look at Mandaric..He is now after Sheff Wed..How many clubs has the man had so far?

  • Comment number 27.

    Your comparison about Owen Coyle & Gary Megson is spot on. However, Phil u've not commented on Elmander's comments about his former manager and his player management. Apparently, Megson scared the hell out of Elmander and other players. I've believed Elmander since his days in Brondby and Toulouse. My friends were laughing at me when I put Elmander in my fantasy team from the beginning and he hasn't disappointed me.

  • Comment number 28.

    I read Phil's blog when Coyle moved to Bolton, being a Bolton supporter, my comments were not very favourable.

    Having said that, the guy has held his hands up and confessed that he was wrong.

    I am pleased that Phil, is blogging smaller teams, Which we undoubtedly are and yes, we may drop down the league but he is giving praise at the time we are flying high and I will be content to read his future blogs on other teams who are doing well, whether or not they are from the so called sky four.

    What does irritate me, are these supporters who think any team other than the top three or four teams, are not worthy of praise or begrudge it, even when they are doing well.

  • Comment number 29.

    If Bolton carry on like this under Coyle i reckon they could be challenging for top 6 perhaps this season, more likely next season.

    I heard that the financial state of the club might require them to sell Elmander which would be a big loss, so to maintain this position until May looks unlikely to me.

    Huge credit to them though for the way they've started this season! From a spurs fan, humbled by the way Bolton overpowered my team at the Reebok earlier this season.

  • Comment number 30.

    mynameismichaelcaine wrote:

    The bulk of the money is owed to Eddie Davies who is a Bolton fan through and through....He wont call in the debt..

    How refreshing is it to have a Premier leagus club owned by one of its own as opposed to some obscure Sheikh or oil tycoon from Russia..
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    agreed. good to hear, means coyle can just get on with it. the media made the situation sound much worse than that a few weeks ago.

  • Comment number 31.

    Phil. Adding this to the Hodgson fiasco, will you resign?

  • Comment number 32.

    Just read a comment by someone a few posts up. 'Absitomen' why on earth are you posting on here then? Shocking arrogance.

    Looking at the blog earlier this year by Phil McNulty and can't help laughing at all the idiotic comments. Predicting and hoping for us to go down. Deary me.

    Owen Coyle is doing a fantastic job and long may it continue.

  • Comment number 33.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 34.

    may i actually thank mr mcnulty at this stage for the blog on bolton, there have been calls for one from many posters here recently and it's good to know that the BBC's chief football writer is keen to listen to the input of his public.

    i agree for the most part, i believe coyle to be a great tactician from what (admittedly not enough) i've seen of bolton this season. it can be a wonder sometimes what a bit of self-belief and ambition can do to a team and to the invididuals within the team (thinking particularly about elmander), and it's no accident that bolton are thriving under the guidance of coyle. A few impressively shrewd acquisitions aside it's largely Megson's low-lying team Coyle is achieving with - but stuart holden and martin petrov are proving excellent signings.

    "The Sweden striker, who hung like a £10m millstone around Megson's neck, has been a cornerstone of Coyle's revival." - i particularly like this - i've heard megson would apparently shout at elmander in the dressing room at most matches - the gulf in class between the two managers (and the importance of having a good one, tactically as well as mentally) can be found not only in bolton's overachieving results but also in the form of elmander.

    he is actually living up to his price tag, which i believed at the time in no way reflected his talents, by playing the best football of his life.

  • Comment number 35.

    Yet another article about Bolton!
    Why can't we have one about Liverpool or Manchester United for a change. You are far too influenced by the bigger clubs like Bolton, Blackpool & Wigan Phil. Signs of a North West bias. Talk about Chelsea sometimes just to keep things fair.

  • Comment number 36.

    People are talking about Owen moving on in a few years time to a "bigger" club. What if Bolton manage to attract their own Roman Abramovic or Sheikh Mansour? They could easily be one of the big teams in that case, and wouldn't really need to buy too many players if the main bulk of the current squad stays together. That's something I would personally love to see.
    And great work Owen, you've got the team I love playing some fantastic football at the moment. Long may it continue. It really brings a smile to my face when watching MOTD and seeing people like Shearer and Hanson talking about how well Bolton are playing!

  • Comment number 37.

    Good manager and nice to see a blog on it.

    OC was a very good striker who plyed his trade with Airdrie but never got the move he wanted to Celtic.

    He had St Jognstone playing some great football before he went to Burnley and then rejected the manager's job at Celtic as he took them up to the EPL.

    Always comes across very well as a real enthuisiast for the game and this is what communicates to his players. Bolton are playing some tremendous stuff at the moment and any team that can take 4 off Spurs must be doing something right. Love to see them stay the pace I really would.

    But at this rate OC is destined for a bigger club.

  • Comment number 38.

    Owen Coyle is well on the way to being a terrific manager, his energy and enthusiasm for the game is infectious and it's a treat to see him do so well. As a player he was a thorn in the side of many teams with the goals he scored (mainly for Airdrie) but despite that if you listened to him after games you couldn't help but like him due to his enthusiasm. He's taken that into his managerial career too, and tries to get his teams playing football in the correct way - i.e. winning games is the priority, but he also wants to try and entertain the supporters too.

    Although Burnley fans were sore to lose him, I'm sure like the vast majority of football fans, they'll wish him well. I'm sure he'll do a good job at Bolton, and who knows what'll lie ahead for him in future.... hopefully he'll get a chance at managing Scotland one day too!

  • Comment number 39.

    Some have suggested that Bolton won't be able to hang on to Cahill in January.

    What they don't realise, but Fabio Capello does, is that he is not as good as

    Ferdinand, Terry, Dawson, Jagielka, Lescott, Upson, Carragher, Smalling and Upson. So why anyone would want to buy him is beyond me.

  • Comment number 40.

    You can't help but be impressed with the football Bolton play under Coyle and his positive attitude to football being entertaining as well as results based. When people talk about a successor to Fergie at Utd, you don't hear Coyle's name mentioned but if he keeps this standard up he may be a candidate in the future.

  • Comment number 41.

    Some have suggested that Bolton won't be able to hang on to Cahill in January.

    What they don't realise, but Fabio Capello does, is that he is not as good as

    Ferdinand, Terry, Dawson, Jagielka, Lescott, Upson, Carragher, Smalling and Upson. So why anyone would want to buy him is beyond me.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Is this a wind up? Apart from Ferdinand and Terry(when fit)Cahill is head and shoulders above the others..Lescott!...Your having a laugh pal!!!



  • Comment number 42.

    anyone see owen coyle's goal in the bolton reserve game i think

    for a 44 year old, he isnt half bad!


  • Comment number 43.

    Coyle has done a good job, but I think he should be judged at the end of the season. A few weeks ago we were all praising Roberto Di Matteo and now WBA look less than secure in their Premier League status.

    You can't deny they have been playing some great stuff and the change in Elmander has been nothing short of miraculous!

    http://www.inofftheghost.wordpress.com

  • Comment number 44.

    I'd like to know if Coyle trained Kevin Davies to rampage like a four legged bull on heat yet then is able to fall, swan-like, as if a dying ballerina at the merest touch from a defender.

    Like Stoke, Bolton are anti-football and I cannot wait until they are dispatched back to the championship where they belong.

  • Comment number 45.

    for everyone who complains that there are 20 teams in the league to write about, there is a reason blogs tend to focus on the big teams: MORE PEOPLE CARE. this is the BBC not the stoke city website or the wolves website or the blackpool website (no disrespect to those teams, first three names to jump into my head). if something of note happens to a smaller/more mid-table/also-ran team, such as bolton and this blog, it will be dealt with. why would fans, other than the obvious answer: bias, expect their team to be written about over the teams most neutrals would be more interested in reading about unless something momentous has occurred? this blog isnt here to make all clubs feel valued and important by paying the same amount of attention all of them regardless of what is going on at each club, thats ridiculous. get a grip!

  • Comment number 46.

    Well done Bolton! It's also nice to read about a team out side the 'big' four or five as well. I really wish we had Coyle as manger I don't think we would be in the mess that we are in. As for a side move I agree with one of the comments and no disprect towards Burnely but Bolton are surely a bigger club (they have in the prem for quite a considerable amount of time).

  • Comment number 47.

    oh shutup "bob lfc"

    there had to be one..

  • Comment number 48.

    Note to mtrenners...I'm at West Ham v Wigan on Saturday so there will be a blog on the Hammers after that.

    Despite questioning the wisdom of his move originally, I am in no way surprised Owen Coyle is doing so well. I enjoyed watching his Burnley team at the start of last season and had a couple of great nights at Turf Moor when they beat Manchester United and drew with Arsenal. I was genuinely sad when they went down and think they might have stayed up had Coyle remained there.

    I personally do not think it is premature to write a blog about Coyle because he has not just done well in the last couple of weeks, he has been improving Bolton almost from the moment he got there.

    Good to hear from so many Bolton fans, let's hear from more - and of course fans of other clubs, including Burnley perhaps.

    So, what is a realistic target for Bolton this season? And are you already worried Coyle might be lured away elsewhere some time in the future? I'll leave that debate up to you!

  • Comment number 49.

    Thus far this year the Premier League table has followed a fairly simple pattern: if a side makes it to fifth place, they will then go on a bad run of form.

    It happened to Fulham, it happened to West Brom, it happened to Newcastle, and while I certainly think Bolton should be right up there come the end of the season, it will I think happen to them in the near future.

    I also query how long Kevin Davies can keep playing.

  • Comment number 50.

    Like Stoke, Bolton are anti-football and I cannot wait until they are dispatched back to the championship where they belong.

    ----------------------------------------

    Wee bit of trolling going on here I think as this statement is utterly ridiculous. And as for going BACK to the Championship, when was the last time they were there? Think its been too long to refer to that motion as going back "where they belong".

    At Mr Chelsea - Caught the goal mate and a beauty it was. My team played a friendly against St Johnstone reserves a few years ago and he came on for the last 15 minutes... he lobbed our keeper 3 times to net a hat-trick. The guy is class as a player and a manager!

  • Comment number 51.

    what next, bolton to go to europe next season?

  • Comment number 52.

    Credit due to Bolton and Coyle, think both are doing great this year and are worthy of a blog. While the big three will still be top for awhile yet, followed closely by City and Spurs I don't think there is any reason why Bolton can not establish themselves in the group normally below the top 5 with Villa, Everton & Liverpool. And also possibly an outside chance of 4th spot if the results go their way in this highly unpredictable season. They're a good club with a great set up and I think media have over hyped their debt situation. If Coyle keeps this up he would be ahead of Moyes in my estimation as a manager given Evertons better resorces Moyes really has only had one good season with them.

  • Comment number 53.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 54.

    6:43pm on 22 Nov 2010, MardiganX wrote:
    Like Stoke, Bolton are anti-football and I cannot wait until they are dispatched back to the championship where they belong.


    =========================================================================

    You really should be embarrassed posting such drivel on here..

  • Comment number 55.

    50 mardiganx

    Yeah he seems like a top manager/player. I want to see him and bolton upset the top 6. Tthat would be good. Obviously not at the expense of chelsea, Not likely that will happen but given our current form you never know!

    Also Elmander better net a hat trick for my team on saturday!

  • Comment number 56.

    Fairly decent blog Phil, but you could have gone all the way with your apology about the sideways move.

    Suggesting that a big club move from Burnley was a possilbility is a bit brave.

    Burnley were sinking like a stone when he moved to Bolton and he realised that being relegated could have set his career back 10 years.

    At Bolton, we had a quality set of players with 2 or 3 on the England cusp, a board who always back managers financially, 9 years in the P'ship, state of the art stadium, academy etc etc....

    He will move on eventually and maybe Bolton will be his stepping stone but he knew that it wouldn't have happened if he stayed at Burnley and I also know that when he does leave, Bolton fans will thank him and wish him well and not call him Judas or a liar.

  • Comment number 57.

    Via @optajoe on twitter;

    22 - This is only Bolton's 4th-best start to a PL season in terms of points after 14 games (04/05 - 23, 05/06 - 26, 06/07 - 24). Perspective

    agreed he has done a cracking job but the foundations were always there, and the underachievement under Megson should be taken into account.

  • Comment number 58.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 59.

    Some have suggested that Bolton won't be able to hang on to Cahill in January.

    What they don't realise, but Fabio Capello does, is that he is not as good as

    Ferdinand, Terry, Dawson, Jagielka, Lescott, Upson, Carragher, Smalling and Upson. So why anyone would want to buy him is beyond me.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Is this a wind up? Apart from Ferdinand and Terry(when fit)Cahill is head and shoulders above the others..Lescott!...Your having a laugh pal!!!


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Sorry michaelcaine

    I was trying to be ironic - but I can't type with an ironic or sarcastic tone of voice and I apologise for making you blood pressure rise.

    I could have also pointed out the `superiority' of Carlton Cole or Heskey over SKD

    Cahill seems to be the most sought after defender in terms of the transfer market but, mysteriously, a long way down the pecking order when it comes to England.


    The debate about when OC joined Bolton can't be had without understanding his role in Rioch's team and its approach to football and its role in starting 15 years of progress. Bolton fans remember that and this season links back to that era.


  • Comment number 60.

    It was the fact he didnt even try and keep Burnley up!

  • Comment number 61.

    [sigh] Not another article about Bolton . . .

  • Comment number 62.

    Given the increased traffic in and around the top 4 - where City and Spurs and have thrown (or bought!) their way into the mix, when in the past it was an exclusive club - Coyle's achievements are magnified further. Saying that, praise has to be reserved until consistency and staying power are achieved, somthing Moyes (another Scot) has managed over at Everton.

  • Comment number 63.

    Phil,

    Owen Coyle made his name at Airdrie by his hat trick scoring and appearance in the European Cup Winners' Cup.

  • Comment number 64.

    Yet another blog about Bolton, sigh.

  • Comment number 65.

    FairPlayMotty

    No, Coyle made his name by appearing in that dreadful Robert Duvall movie, A Shot At Glory. Duvall's Scottish accent... Oh, dear.

  • Comment number 66.

    Phil,
    All you ever do is write about EPL teams...
    There are 3 other profeesional leagues and Blue Square on down, how about and article about the increasing standards in the lower leagues and the non-league? After all isn't a continuing accusation about the standard of home-grown players justified through having a pop at grass-roots - let's have a look at those roots ;-)
    Oh and Bolton certainly look a much better outfit under Coyle but still seem to rely pretty heavily on Davies backing into defenders, falling over and getting free kicks...

  • Comment number 67.

    Phil you dont mention Coyle the player? imo his teams play as he himself did as a player, good touch bringing others in and trying to play football as it should be played. Coyle said when leaving Burnley it was a case of Bolton being a established Premier League club and as such can pay better wages and attract a better quality of player add this to the fact he had a good relationship with the fans and it was a obvious choice. Coyle would do well at most clubs as he has his ideas sticks to them gives his players belief in what they are doing and is also prepared to work very hard. Bolton imo are in a false position and i dont see them staying around the top six but i would be suprised if they dont finish top ten or eleven. cantona 1968 i cannot work out if you are having a dig or are just clueless? Moyes one good season? a cup final many visits in Europe and the first club to break the top four monoply. What are Evertons better resources? Every Moyes big money signing has come from the sale of players and there have not been to many. Moyes could not spend five million without selling first. Clubs outside the top five normally Liverpool? Apart from last season and this hurts me to say when they won the Champions League when? Anyway back to Coyle last season bringing in Wiltshire on loan showed as when he done a great job at Burnley the kind of football he will be looking to bring to his Bolton team. I cannot help but be impressed at how he is getting the very best from players Megson signed, giving them a clean slate and getting them pulling in the same direction and he deserves all the credit coming his way. Coyle always seems to put the players first and it looks like he makes them feel that they are really important to what he is doing and he seems to be really close to all of them.

  • Comment number 68.

    Coyle is taking most of the credit Megson deserved. Megson changed the style, brought in the more technical players, but kept some of the more direct tactics that worked and got lambasted for doing exactly what Coyle is being praised to high heaven for.

    The amount of people who have been falling over themselves to offer Coyle all the congratulations is bizarre, but not surprising.

    They are playing with more confidence and showing more quality throughout the team. But that is more down to fans getting behind the team, rather than criticising the manager. Coyle walked in to a job that needed no more than a fresh face and a bit of hope. Megson went through the problematic transistion phase and now gets to watch everyone credit Coyle for all the changes Megson made and players Megson brought.

  • Comment number 69.

    To those suggesting that Phil McNulty in some way has to apologise, I would ask "what for?". If he has to apologise for having an opinion then at least 50% of the responders on this blog should as well.

    Owen Coyle has exceeded expectations at Bolton. After Sam Allardyce left they might well have been expected to sink back down to the Championship, and indeed they almost did. He has turned their team around in a very similar way to how Harry Redknapp has turned Tottenham around. Better football, more attacking options, and most importantly better results.

    The problem that Bolton have is that their squad doesnt have the depth of the teams around them, so a couple of critical injuries or suspensions will knock them right back. If Tottenham, Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea or Arsenal lose two strikers, they can still call on international replacements. Can Bolton? Where are they without Jaskelainaan?

  • Comment number 70.

    @ northernsuperspur

    At least we have defenders on the bench.

    Spurs don't have any on the pitch!

  • Comment number 71.

    McNulty clearly knows nothing about the game. 1) Sideways move, cheap journalism from a man who doesn't follow football. 2) only about 2 weeks late with the Coyle bandwagon blog. mate if you knew anything you'd have known Bolton were much more stable than Burnley, and you'd have known more than 12 months ago that Coyle was a top class gaffer in the making. Amateur. Bring back Robbo!

  • Comment number 72.

    A friend of mine is one of the academy coaches at the Eddie Davis Academy, Boltons Training ground, and the big difference is that the players enjoy coming in to training, and Coyle just plays 5 a sides in training, mixing up the sessions, some 1 touch, some 2 touch and the players love it.

    The reason Elmander is scoring, is unlike Megson, Coyle is playing him as a striker not a left back. All Megson had him doing was chasing back all the time tackling!!!!!!

  • Comment number 73.

    The problem that Bolton have is that their squad doesnt have the depth of the teams around them, so a couple of critical injuries or suspensions will knock them right back. If Tottenham, Man City, Man Utd, Chelsea or Arsenal lose two strikers, they can still call on international replacements. Can Bolton? Where are they without Jaskelainaan?

    ----

    On the bench we had Petrov on the bench. Sam ricketts can cover almost anywere in the defence (and did last season) We also have qaulity on our bench e.g. Petrov, Klasnic and young rodrigo.

    On about were would we be without jussi, earlier this season he was suspended for three matches. Bogan did an excellent job and we have Al habsi who is out on loan and is playing well for Wigan.

  • Comment number 74.

    Coyle is taking most of the credit Megson deserved. Megson changed the style, brought in the more technical players, but kept some of the more direct tactics that worked and got lambasted for doing exactly what Coyle is being praised to high heaven for

    ========================================================================

    Megson almost destroyed the club.His nagative tactics,insulting attitude towards the fans and general lack of management skills almost got us relegated and break the bond between the club and its fans.Even Gartside admitted the last point...Coyle is exactly the polar opposite of Megson and for that we can be truly grateful.

  • Comment number 75.

    To gohavesometea...if I can answer the point you made there. I cover the Premier League, the Champions League, the Europa League and England.

    The divisions below are covered by my colleagues, particularly when Paul Fletcher covers the Championship.

    This is why I focus on the teams and divisions that I do. Hope this clears things up.

  • Comment number 76.

    "Hoofing long balls up to Davies who either elbows the defender or takes a dive. For a big strong player Davies dives like Nani. No wonder they can't EVER fill the ground at Bolton. Makes me laugh they way the build up Cahill as an England player!! Couldn't bear to watch Bolton play. Fans are so poor they play music when they score!!"

    Good call.

    Bolton is as ugly and boring as football gets. Even Stoke have an element of excitement with their medieval long throw antics.

  • Comment number 77.

    Bolton is as ugly and boring as football gets. Even Stoke have an element of excitement with their medieval long throw antics.

    Yes scoring three goals a game is really boring

  • Comment number 78.

    Phil McNulty is clearly at the level of popularity he can be prime minister, england manager and the new Bob Crow rolled into one.

    He write's about Man U everyone goes nuts, tips Liverpool last season (after an amazing finish to the season before) everyone goes nuts, writes about some Harry Redknapp comments and people get really really mad and bang on abouut Bolton forever. Now he write's about Bolton and that's awful too.

    Don't get me wrong I'm not a fan of this blog much myself as I think it generally goes the easy route without real insight but even I'm starting to feel sorry for the old boy!

  • Comment number 79.

    Dogeared you must be dog tired posting the garbage you have tonight.

  • Comment number 80.

    To dogeared...not sure you seem to be giving a very impartial view here. It appears Bolton have offended you at some point. Plenty will disagree with you - and I will agree with them.

    "As ugly and boring as football gets..." Now you know that's not really true don't you?

    Let's hear from more Bolton fans about the specific changes Coyle has made to improve things. Not anti-Megson, because I actually feel some of the criticism he received was unfair, but comments pro-Coyle in relation to what he has done, and also some insight on what he will need to do to maintain the upward curve.

  • Comment number 81.

    "Fans are so poor they play music when they score!!"

    Hmm, I am sure you are thinking of Wigan there! Been a long time since there was music after a goal at the Reebok...

    As for Coyle, as Bolton fans, we all knew at the time that he would be excellent for us and that is the key for me. When Megson's name came up after Lee was sacked, we were all dreading the worst. However when he was appointed a large % of us gave him the benefit of the doubt and it didn't take too long for this to start to fade.

    Someone mentioned above that this praise should be going to Megson and that it is the fact the fans have gotten behind the team which has seen these significant improvements. I personally don't agree, it is 2 way. The club finally listened to the fans and this is now paying dividends!

    The football we are playing is fantastic, very entertaining with lots of goals! In fact there have been 19 goals in our last 4 games (4-2, 1-1, 2-3 & 5-1).. how anybody can say that we are boring should really watch more than the 5 minutes we get on MOTD each week.

  • Comment number 82.

    Let's hear from more Bolton fans about the specific changes Coyle has made to improve things. Not anti-Megson, because I actually feel some of the criticism he received was unfair, but comments pro-Coyle in relation to what he has done, and also some insight on what he will need to do to maintain the upward curve.


    Motivating the players, Elmander has said that megson would just shout rather than encourage him which he needed. Coyle also maintains a strong link with the fans e.g. fansforums.

    On the point Megson has signed some decent players, they have cost him money whereas coyle has not (with the exception of Alonso but has not made a net spending) and has signed some decent players. Blake his highly experienced which can give something to the younger players. The same with Petrov who is a 'coup' for bolton and has lifted the club and caused Taylor some problems (last season he wasn't and kept his place after some poor performances) as well as young talent in Alonso, Rodrigo, Wilshere, Holden and Weiss.

  • Comment number 83.

    Here's hoping you haven't jinxed the Bolton & Coyle bandwagon Phil....

    BTW @bluecard - when you're writing ironically like that, can you add a smiley face or italics or something, otherwise we just tend to think that you're smoking crack........

  • Comment number 84.

    Phil, with regards to your last comment about what Coyle has brought, he has brought the confidence back to everyone involved with the club! He has arranged fans forums where season ticket holders can get a free ticket and ask questions about anything to him and Phil Gartside. There have been a couple of these and he is very open and honest and his enthusiasm for the game and the club is infectious and is there for all to see!

    Secondly, I believe that he has brought some realism to the players. I met him the other month before the cup game against Burnley. He was heading to the team bus and I asked for a photo. He said that it was the least he could do and if we wanted a picture with any players he has told them all that it is the least they can do too. This to me tells me he is making the players realise what the fans mean to the club. This is something that we have not had since the BSA era. And trying to avoid the Megson criticism, but I believe this has to be said to bring this into perspective... Megson refused all invitations to the supporters association meetings, he also cancelled the end of season awards ceremony, where genuine fans can attend to. He created a huge gap between those on the pitch and those in the stands. This has now been sorted and the air around the ground and anything BWFC related now seems to have an air of confidence, solidarity and most of all, calm.

  • Comment number 85.

    Ok, well that's the obligatory 'Small, barely supported club blog' taken care of for another 12 months, now hurry up Phil and get back to the top 4 blogs that most of us actually care about. How about something on how the West Ham result proved beyond all doubt that Poulsen is 10 times the player Gerrard ever was, and how Hodgson is in actual fact, God. Something fact-based and neutral like that?

  • Comment number 86.

    Nat_BWFCUK wrote:

    how anybody can say that we are boring should really watch more than the 5 minutes we get on MOTD each week.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I couldn't agree more. I'm a Boro fan but Bolton have been excellent this season. I thought a 5-1 victory over Newcastle would of been 1st or 2nd on MOTD due to the amount of goals BUT NO. The big 4 monopoly reigned over our TV screens again. Fair play with the Arsenal game as it was very entertaining but why was the Man Utd game on before the Bolton game? I only hope Mowbray can inspire the Boro players to play the same way Coyle has got Bolton playing so that we can be dragged from our relegation battle.

  • Comment number 87.

    Boromad92... unfortunately, the BBC pick the order of games before they have actually played out... apparently anyway.

  • Comment number 88.

    Why do people come on here having a pop at McNulty for not covering their teams? Get a life!

  • Comment number 89.

    Not at all surprised to see the type of comments that still act like it's 2005 with regards to all things Bolton, even then we weren't that bad. Graeme Souness put those tags upon the club after his Newcastle team had been deservedly defeated and he was feeling a tad bitter. Where's he these days?

    Maybe the naysayers should actually try watching a game involving Bolton now, rather than relying on outdated beliefs that were only partially correct to begin with. (Yeah, all we had Okocha do was lump the ball up the pitch, he never once showed any of his true talents.... get a grip.)

    As for what Coyle has done, it's quite simple. This time last year, the players were miserable, the fans were miserable, the club officials were miserable, the stewards were miserable, even Doris the tea lady was miserable.

    Now everyone has a smile on their face. And Owen Coyle put them there.

    I pity whoever ends up with Megson next.

  • Comment number 90.

    Coyle replacing SAF? 1:-D

  • Comment number 91.

    I pity whoever ends up with Megson next.
    ========================================================================

    Hope its Burnley then they might appreciate what OC did for them a bit more..

  • Comment number 92.

    Bolton will definitely finish a lot higher than they did last season. If Bolton continue this form and keep their key players. Then they have a chance to finished around 5-7th position in the league at the end of the season and will probably play in Europe next season. I doubt they can finish in top four due to high competition between spurs and man city wanting to finish 4th

    At the end of the season the final standings I think will be 1. Manu, 2. Chelsea, 3. Arsenal, 4. Spurs 5. Man city, 6. Bolton, 7. Everton for top 7

    Coyle is an excellent manager and he will only get better

  • Comment number 93.

    48. At 6:36pm on 22 Nov 2010, philmcnultybbcsport wrote:
    Note to mtrenners...I'm at West Ham v Wigan on Saturday so there will be a blog on the Hammers after that.
    ---------------------------------

    Good to hear. I'm not a west ham fan at all, but in a ridiculously close league there's one team that seems to be standing out and that's west ham and not in a good way. would be interesting to see if there's any likely hood of things changing.

    Can't believe some people have said bolton and boring and direct this season. They really need to actually watch football this season rather than play on FIFA.

    And as a point of proof, Elmander's goal the other weekend was one of the very best goals I've seen - the close control was superb.

  • Comment number 94.

    Great manager but can Bolton seriously break in to the top 4? I don't know, but have a read of; 'The Premier League Title Race; Does anyone actually want to win it this year?'

    http://upper90magazine.wordpress.com/2010/11/21/pl-title-race/

  • Comment number 95.

    I actually feel sorry for the type of football 'fan' that comes on here and feels the need to patronise 'smaller' footbal clubs.

    I suppose it is to be expected in an age of Sky Sports News and the tabloid press that believe football begins and ends with the top 4 of the Premier League.

    Clubs like Bolton do not have hordes of glory hunting supporters (many of which wouldn't know the way to Anfield/OT/Emirates if you dropped them outside the ground) and a vast area to draw fans from, but they matter to their fans and their local area- plus clubs like Bolton, Blackburn Rovers, Wolves, West Brom go to the very start of the professional game in this country (winning major trophies before many of todays 'big clubs' even existed) and deserve repsect.

  • Comment number 96.

    Whilst you have to give Megson respect for the foundations of a good team he put in place, he was never a man manager. Interesting comments how he scared the bejeezus out of Elmander last season! Coyle is just so enthusiastic and positive about his team and the game, it comes across in his post-match interviews, as it does to the players I'm sure. He has given the club stability post-Allardyce and doubt Coyle will move in the short term - he's got a chairman who believes in what he's doing and results are speaking for themselves. They've improved consistently under Coyle's tenure, and everyone appears to be headed in the same direction. He has also developed what appears to be a tightly-knit unit with no egos, all celebrating with one another after goals which is refreshing to see. Coyle has also made shrewd moves in the transfer market, bringing in talented and technically-gifted players from big clubs for a song or on loan - Petrov & Weiss notable examples. Realistic target would be a UEFA Super Cup spot this season - agere with #92 SportsFan about his expected final standings. However, the league's all about consistency, would be interested to see if Elmander and Davies can go a whole season uninjured as they were crocked for large periods last season. How would they get on without 1 or both of their dangerous & in-form front 2? However, not looking forward to when we (Chelsea) play them twice in a month end of Dec/end Jan. They always seem to be our bogey team, like Blackburn, and we end up drawing/losing against them!
    1 last point, directed at #39 Jacko - maybe England should pick Cahill, over players who are crocked/too old/lacking in confidence. Maybe that's why Capello is rubbish at his job, selecting "big club players" vs those who have any form, and we consistently have inept and lacklustre performances against second-rate international teams. We need some more excitement!

  • Comment number 97.

    One last thing - shame Davies only now being given a half-hearted chance at an international career at 33 or however old he is. Think he could've done great things for England and would've run/hustled defences ragged!

  • Comment number 98.

    Dear Phil,

    Obviously you took on board what one of the bloggers commented yesterday about writing an article on Owen Coyle's success at Bolton.

    Thank you for doing that......As regards to the balance of power having shifted at North London I can Guarantee Arsenal will finish higher than Tottenham end of season. So I dont know why Andy Gray (Seems to be a Tottenham Supporter) was going on about the balance of power being shifted.......

  • Comment number 99.

    I think the one thing which is impressive about Owen is that like most of the top managers is that they do it their way and they make sure they know about the club from the bottom upwards. The best example that I can give is that Coyle turns out for the reserves from time to time (scored a very classy goal the other night), what better way to know how the players are playing is to play with them.

    Can see him taking a step up to an traditional top 6 team in the next few seasons and cementing them in a Champions League spot.

    However your blogs do seem like a kiss of death towards a fair few teams so hope that Bolton as a local team continue to do well and if they get 15points from the next 7games

    Saturday, 27 November 2010 Bolton v Blackpool
    Saturday, 4 December 2010 Man City v Bolton
    Sunday, 12 December 2010 Bolton v Blackburn
    Saturday, 18 December 2010 Sunderland v Bolton
    Sunday, 26 December 2010 Bolton v West Brom
    Wednesday, 29 December 2010 Chelsea v Bolton
    Saturday, 1 January 2011 Liverpool v Bolton, 15:00

    As a Manchester United fan I'll be over the moon for them.

  • Comment number 100.

    As a Villa fan, I am more than happy to read about the other teams other than the top 4 and Spurs.

    Long may it continue.

    Well done to Bolton, it is refreshing to see a team that have struggled start well this season.

 

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