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How Owen Coyle has transformed Bolton

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Paul Fletcher | 09:25 UK time, Friday, 15 April 2011

You can talk about the tactical tweaks and the changes in transfer policy, the studious preparation and the hard work done to shore up of the defence.

But when trying to work out how Owen Coyle has changed Bolton in the space of only 15 months from a team scrapping for their Premier League survival to a side on the cusp of their first FA Cup final since 1958, what really stands out is the 44-year-old's infectious personality and his truly remarkable enthusiasm for the game.

Every time I have interviewed Coyle I have felt energised and invigorated at the end of the conversation. It is impossible not to be caught up in the Scot's obvious lust for life and it is easy to imagine how players who work with him on a daily basis benefit from their proximity to him.

"The motivation of the players when they were growing up was not fancy cars or money but to be a footballer," Coyle told me. "I ask them to put the other stuff to one side and go and enjoy their football and give it everything they've got. For me, enjoyment of the game is absolutely paramount.

"All I ask from my group is that they give everything they can, every ounce of skill and desire to maximise their attributes so that they know when they go to bed that they have given everything they can to reach highest level possible."

Bolton manager Owen Coyle.

Coyle is keen to stress to his squad that football should be enjoyed. Photo: Getty Images

A good example is Swedish striker Johan Elmander, who arrived at the Reebok Stadium from Toulouse for a club-record fee in the region of £10m in June 2008. Elmander endured a nightmare goalless nine months between December 2008 and September 2009, during which time his confidence drained away. Former manager Gary Megson seemed unable to restore Elmander's self-belief, but the Swede has played so well under Coyle that he has been linked with a move to the likes of Juventus and Liverpool when his contract expires at the end of the season.

"I knew Elmander was a top-class player but maybe he needed somebody to believe in him, be positive and know how good he is," added Coyle.

"The players at Bolton are here because they have ability and I want them to show what they can do, not worry about what they cannot do. Together we will work on the deficiencies and try to make them better."

Predecessor Megson had an unhappy relationship with the club's supporters, who thought his team was direct and ugly to watch, something that Coyle says he has tried to address.

"There was a perception Bolton played in a certain way and with a certain style," said Coyle. "We had to try to change that and in terms of our football philosophy we have made a little transition. I'm not saying we play like Arsenal or Barcelona but we have added other dimensions, although we are still not afraid to go to the strikers early and use the strengths we have always had because forward Kevin Davies is the best at what he does."

The Wanderers squad has been invigorated by the arrival of talented young players. Jack Wilshere and Vladimir Weiss both had a spell on loan at the Reebok Stadium last season, while American Stuart Holden, so influential this year until injury ended his campaign, arrived on a free transfer. Defender David Wheater became Coyle's first substantial cash buy when he joined from Middlesbrough for an initial £2.3m in January 2011, while Daniel Sturridge also arrived on loan from Chelsea.

Coyle is a teetotal Christian whose attitude and determination was forged growing up as one of nine children in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. It is hardly a surprise that a strong work ethic is at the core of Coyle beliefs; nor his insistence that to be involved in professional football is a privilege.

"Football is the best game in world and I wish I was still a player, but when the legs give up being in coaching and management is the next best thing," he said.

"Playing football - it is the best job in the world, in fact I would not even call it a job as such. If I was not involved professionally I would be playing five-a-side with you because I love it."

Allied to these qualities and beliefs is a determination to always move forward, to constantly strive to improve. His playing career took him to 12 different clubs in 22 years, including a spell at Bolton in the mid-1990s. He scored a crucial goal for Wanderers at the old Wembley as the Lancashire side won the 1995 Division One play-off final to end a 15-year exile from the top flight.

"I remember the header vividly but I don't have any photos of it or anything like that on the walls at home," said the Scot. "Once something is done you cannot you affect it, only what is in front of you."

Owen Coyle celebrates Burnley's 2009 Championship play-off final victory at Wembley.

Coyle was victorious at Wembley as Burnley manager in 2009. Photo: Getty Images

Coyle turned down three approaches from Scottish Premier League clubs during his first managerial role at St Johnstone but eventually left McDiarmid Park one week before his team were due to play in their first Scottish Challenge Cup final for the unfashionable surroundings of Burnley. Coyle then took the Clarets to the Premier League for the first time after a 1-0 victory over Sheffield United in the 2009 Championship play-off final. That match brought the curtain down on a remarkable 61-game season that saw Burnley come within two minutes of reaching the Carling Cup final and enjoy an FA Cup run that took them to the last eight.

"I believe you can marry it together and have cup runs with good league form but you need to be focused and hope your squad stays intact," added the Bolton boss.

Bolton are currently eighth in the Premier League and take on Stoke in their FA Cup semi-final tie on Sunday at Wembley - a venue Coyle describes as the best football arena in the world.

Coyle's first game as a manager in English football was against Tony Pulis's side, a goalless draw at Turf Moor in late November 2007. The Bolton manager does not buy into the argument that Stoke are a physical, one-dimensional team, instantly reeling off a list of half a dozen of their players that he rates very highly.

"I think a lot of people do a disservice to Stoke," he said. "They can mix and match their game and have invested in their side."

There is nothing but excitement in Coyle's voice as he looks forward to pitting his wits against Pulis, somebody he describes as a genuinely great guy.

One of them will be moving into unchartered territory at the final whistle on Sunday and, given the trajectory of Coyle's managerial career so far, it would not be a huge shock if the boy who watched the Wembley showpiece on television every year ended up a part of it himself.

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  • Comment number 1.

    I find just listening to him being interviewed picks you up and gets you excited about the game!
    Good luck for the weekend Owen...

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    Coyle has done a brilliant job at Bolton and made them a good team to watch. I also have a lot of respect for Pulis. Both managers seem like genuinely good football people when most of the top managers let the game down with there constant whinging (ferguson and Wenger particularly).

    Looking forward to this semi-final, the manchester one will be a let down with City throwing it away as usual (although I hope not). I hope that whoever wins between stoke and bolton go on to win the cup.

  • Comment number 4.

    Coyle's first game for us wasn't the home game against Stoke we'd already played two away games before this one beating Charlton 3 - 1 (I think) when they were near the top of the table. You cannot deny Coyle is a great manager who completely transformed our club and presumably a very infectious character however two comments on your blog left me slightly bemused:

    "Allied to these qualities and beliefs is a determination to always move forward, to constantly strive to improve. His playing career took him to 12 different clubs in 22 years" - Ergo has no sense of loyalty

    "eventually left McDiarmid Park one week before his team were due to play in their first Scottish Cup final for the unfashionable surroundings of Burnley." A bit of a cheap shot that Fletch, I normally enjoy reading your blogs.

    Anyway on a lighter note does anyone else think it looks like Pato and Mahon are getting off with one another.

    Prediction: You just can't bet against Coyle in the cups Bolton to go through.

  • Comment number 5.

    He is a great manager. Always made me laugh when the 'knowledgable' pundits on bbc like Lawro and Hansen were saying they couldn't see why he left Burnley for Bolton as they are similar clubs. No way Bolton were Burnley if they could establish themselves in the prem for 10 years straight and Coyle has made a big step up and proved himself and who knows where he could go next!

  • Comment number 6.

    What surprises me about Bolton under Coyle is how quickly things have happened. Given how Bolton played under Allardyce and Megson, I thought it was going to be a lengthy process. In effect, a whole footballing culture has changed at the club. I must admit, when Coyle was appointed, I wondered if he would be able to improve things at Bolton in terms of results whilst also changing the way they played.

    But Coyle has made them into what looks like a side capable of challenging for a place in Europe whilst also being much more pleasing on the eye. He deserves so much credit for this. In fact, if Bolton finish, say 7th, he'd have to be a candidate for Manager of the Year.

    He's also less naive than the likes of Tony Mowbray or even Ian Holloway have been. I admire Holloway very much and if Blackpool stay up playing the way they do, it will be a magnificent achievement. But Coyle has married a more attractive approach with a certain level of physicality - particularly through Kevin Davies, who is, to be fair, very effective in that sense. There's nothing wrong with having a bit of bite.

    Fair play to owen Coyle. I just hope the board stick by him when Bolton hit a sticky patch, which they probably will at some point. Everton under David Moyes have had the odd flirt with relegation but they've always been right to stick with him. I hope Bolton do the same if a poor run does come along.

  • Comment number 7.


    Rick (comment 4) - it certainly was not intended as a cheap shot, or an attempt to belittle Burnley in any way. Think back to when he arrived and the history of the club in the previous couple of decades - would unfashionable not be a justifiable comment (as it would with plenty of other clubs)?

    Besides, just because something, someone or somewhere is unfashionable doesn't make it a bad thing in my opinion. Arguably there is more soul at plenty of Football League clubs that at some of the larger Premier League sides.

  • Comment number 8.

    Paul -

    I certainly don't think the term "unfashionable" should be considered offended and I didn't bat an eyelid when I read the article. However - and I think I'm probably just being a complete nitpicker here - I'm not sure it was entirely appropriate in context. To my mind, "unfashionable" would generally be used in two scenerios with regard to a manager's career:-

    a) If he's perhaps left a big club and ended up at a smaller one. For example, if Coyle had been managing someone like Celtic - "Coyle left Celtic after a poor run of form and ended up at unfashionable Burnley". This seems perfectly logical.

    b) If it's first managerial position - e.g. "Coyle began his managerial career with unfashionable Burnley".

    The problem I have is that - and here I run the risk of offending some portion of the population of Perth - St. Johnstone are arguably less fashionable than Burnley in the context of British football.

    But as I said, I'm probably just nitpicking and I'm sure somebody will take me to task on anything I've just said. And in any case, the discussion is about Coyle's achievements so far with Bolton rather than the use of a word to describe Burnley. But I just thought I'd throw in my two pennies' worth.

  • Comment number 9.

    Thanks for responding and I value your feedback. The problem is we tend to be stereotyped (and admittedly some of justifiably) in the media as flat caps, chimneys and whippets. The word unfashionable seems to again conjurer up these connotations i.e. not being a great place to be. At the moment the town is suffering again with massive cuts in public spending and to be honest we could do with some positive press. Maybe I am being too sensitive or just woke up in a bad mood I just didn't think the word was necessary. Anyway like I say I am a fan of your work and think it's great you champion the football league.

  • Comment number 10.

    Not that I want to nit-pick but I'm pretty sure he left St Johnstone early on in the 2007-8 season, making it impossible for them to be in the Scottish Cup final the following week. So in that context, leaving a club from the second tier in Scotland to go to the second tier in England is not that controversial a move. In fact, I'd say it's a no-brainer. I just wish John Collins had left hibs a couple of weeks earlier that season as I would have loved to see us go for Coyle at the time.

  • Comment number 11.

    At the moment it's probably a compliment to be called unfashionable. Look at heroin chic and decide if you really want to be that fashionable? Personally, I'm glad that Bolton aren't part of the media fashionista because I know if I meet a fellow Bolton fan that they will be in it for the football and not to try and be trendy.

    As for Sunday, I'd far rather be at Wembley watching two clubs for which the game means everything than down the road at the Emirates where the match just gives everyone concerned a chance to preen their egos.

  • Comment number 12.

    It was the Scottish Challenge Cup final that he left in the week leading up to (the Scottish equivalent of the Johnstones Paint), however it was our first cup triiumph and was the only game Sandy Stewart (Coyle's assistant) took charge of us before Derek McInnes took over.

    As for the "unfashionable surroundings", he didn't go from a palace to a 2-up 2-down - more a step up from said 2-up 2-down to a terraced house!!!

  • Comment number 13.

    "... eventually left McDiarmid Park one week before his team were due to play in their first Scottish Cup final ... "

    Incorrect. It was a Scottish Challenge Cup Final, which is similar to what the JP Trophy in England.

    St. Johnston have never reached a Scottish Cup Final, but try again this weekend against Motherwell.

  • Comment number 14.

    # 10.. I think it was the League Cup or Challenge Cup.. Can't really remember but I remember McInnes taking over I think

    I must be in the minority because everytime I hear Coyle being interviewed I switch it off.. Nice enough fella but loves the sound of his own voice.. and very much into the self publicity bit.. Good manager though.

  • Comment number 15.

    # 12.. thats right.. forgot about his assistant taking it before McInnes..

  • Comment number 16.

    14. At 13:45pm 15th Apr 2011, Mikey wrote:

    I must be in the minority because everytime I hear Coyle being interviewed I switch it off.. Nice enough fella but loves the sound of his own voice.. and very much into the self publicity bit.. Good manager though.

    Seems a tad harsh to me, that one. Owen Coyle has never seemed like that kind of a person. He does come across as quite articulate and he speaks with a certain clarity about matters. I find him very watchable.

    He does, however, have annoying habit of always referring to Bolton in their entire full name - i.e. "we'll continue to do our best for Bolton Wanderers Football Club." Let's hope he never manages Inverness Caledonian Thistle!

  • Comment number 17.

    Enjoyable blog Paul
    The OC revolution has completely rejuvenated the club and the interest of fans. He's not had much cash to work with but has slowly re-shaped the team and introduced a more entertaining yet effective approach. I just feel that he can potentially manage anyone with his man-management skills, transfer dealing and positive approach to all matters at the club. One key point, I never liked Megson but he signed some decent players yet struggles to get the best out of them and certainly never had them enjoying their football.
    Looking ahead to a winnable FA Cup semi-final, comfortable placed in the league, represents real success at Bolton. Fans are engaged by his enthusiastic drive to take the club forward each year and are happy to enjoy the journey.
    Good luck to the Wanderers, come on Bolton!

  • Comment number 18.

    @ 14, Mikey,

    Perhaps you could say that for Benitez, the Wigan manager, who has appeared to offer an opinion for almost everything, at times, but not for Owen Coyle.

  • Comment number 19.

    So Allardyce's style wasn't fashionable. He was the one responsible for 8 of the 10 years Bolton have been competing in the top league, the majority of them not fighting relegation. He also took them into Europe a few times, notable ties against Bayern Munich and the like. Coyle went from a club few thought could stay up to one that in all honesty should. Allardyce did it all with so little money he relied on 38 year old mercenaries wanting to add english football to the end of their career lists. And some fine ones he did find (Okocha/Campo/Hierro/Djorkaeff), but don't just dismiss his contribution. Not the most stylish tactician, but a great manager. The Rivaldo rumours still make me laugh, but then he ended up in Uzbekistan rather than the Reebok.

  • Comment number 20.

    Now then,

    More discussion about the word unfashionable than the forthcoming semi-final. Stoke are the furthest south of the four semi-finalists; both games are at Wembley. Can that make sense?

    I guess you could argue - as Rick does earlier - that Coyle does lack loyalty since he has never really spent a particularly long period of time at a club as either player or manager. However, he has never struck me as the type of bloke who winds people up the wrong way and thus has a shortish shelf life at any one place.

    I asked him what he thought about the suggestion he had made a sideways move going to Bolton. He is quite happy for people to think that, his argument being that football is, and should be, a game of opinions.

  • Comment number 21.

    @ BigGiantHead

    Okocha was 29 when he signed for Bolton and Campo was 28, very much at their peak!

  • Comment number 22.

    Having Wembley as the venue for these semi finals not just makes no sense but it shows crystal clear the intention of the F.A., especially after the increase of the final tickets by 22%, in one year. It's described by a single word: profiteering.

    During the weekend, we'll see thousands of cars, coaches and dozens of trains, carrying football fans to northwest London. Environmental considerations, fans' considerations go out of the window.

    Of course, we'll read the sarcastic, arrogant, short and inconsiderate statements by the F.A., saying fans will have the pleasure seeing their team play at Wembley, on a sunny day. Still, it's not a final and four teams past Birmingham will have to watch two semi finals in London, which is absurd.

  • Comment number 23.

    When it comes to Owen Coyle's decision to ditch Burnley for Bolton, initially I had a laugh because it didn't make sense. Still, it doesn't make sense because he might have kept Burnley in the Premiership, anyway. He hasn't won trophies at Bolton and, in all probability, he will not. If he wants to move from Bolton to a big club, he will still not be regarded as having worked in a top side.

    Having said that, though, only during last weekend, we were reading or listening to a long list of fans/clubs who, one more time, want to sack the manager, due to relegation threats.

    So, this goes either way. When we learn that a club makes statements of the sort "they want to take our manager away" it's just wolf cry (and I don't mean Wolverhampton Wanderers). And that's that.

  • Comment number 24.

    i really enjoy owen coyles teams he is a man who knows whats important in football.

    his team.

  • Comment number 25.

    Have to say, whenever I think of who'd be the right sort of manager to finally replace Ferguson (ie. someone who would be there for 15 years, not a couple of Morinho-esque seasons), it's only Coyle and Moyes who come to mind - they may not have had the Champions League opportunities yet, but they are top managers and top people too.

    Bolton have been my pick for the Cup since the 5th round - wouldn't be cracking to see Kevin Davies lifting it?

  • Comment number 26.

    @ 25 MisterDavid,

    Owen Coyle is a passionate, good manager. Going as far as calling him so quickly that he's the manager who will stay in a club for 15 years is well beyond accolades - his track record proves otherwise.

    In any case, if United were to consider him for succeeding SAF, I think they'd rather choose Steve Bruce:
    - he has a better track record with success at top level with smaller sides (Birmingham City, Wigan);
    - before the sale of Bent, mid season, Sunderland were aiming for cementing a 6th position on the table;
    - he's United through and through and an old captain there.

    One of the pluses for Owen Coyle is that he exploited the loan market very well. This though has been done successfully by Tony Pullis too, by McLeish, Davis at Nottingham Forest, Di Matteo at West Brom and many other managers.

    I'm under the impression that this article has a lot of elements of an article in The Times, yesterday and I'm surprised why it's not about Owen Coyle and Tony Pullis, together. It would be fairer, as Tony Pullis - the other semi finalist manager - is also doing a brilliant job at Stoke City.

  • Comment number 27.

    I don't think any of the two teams has an advantage in this semi final. I'm expecting a hard fought match with two teams playing the game to their strengths, which are different.

    Bolton have a better cohesion in their team, with better distribution of the ball due to a better passing game. They also know better than well the physical game, from the Allardyce years and it's visible at times in matches.

    Stoke are the third team, after United and Spurs who use the two wingers this season, rather masterfully. On top, they have height in the team which, when the Delap "weapon" is used, it finds adequate presence up front. They are by no means the long ball team that, so passionately, so many want to prove they are - the last 3 goals Stoke scored against Chelsea and Spurs were brilliant individual efforts, while they tend to use the full width of the pitch from the flanks with Etherington and Pennant. They also have some new additional scorers in Walters, Wilson.

    Both teams have strikers who, on their day, can decide the outcome of a match. When it comes to individuals, it could be argued that Bolton have the better "names", especially with Sturridge shining up front, Cahill in defence, Elmander up front. Stoke though, collectively can surely match that.

    For both teams it is a rare occasion in a semi final and I am expecting an entertaining game, with the passion shown on the pitch, where the team that will use their chances will win the match. I wouldn't be surprised if it went to penalties.

  • Comment number 28.

    Coyle will only ever be classed as an ok manager until he shows loyalty and stability in a club. I'm sure if villa or everton came knocking he wouldn't hesitate to jump ship again, much like other ok managers like Steve Bruce.

  • Comment number 29.

    The Bolton-Stoke tie is the true semi to watch as it could go either way, the Manchester semi will only go one way as Mancinni will never win anything in English football.

  • Comment number 30.

    28. At 09:25am 16th Apr 2011, Reinasbaldhead wrote:

    Coyle will only ever be classed as an ok manager until he shows loyalty and stability in a club. I'm sure if villa or everton came knocking he wouldn't hesitate to jump ship again, much like other ok managers like Steve Bruce.


    I don't think Steve Bruce "jumped ship" as you imply.
    He brought Birmingham City up, twice, he stabilised them in the Premiership and, when McLeish went there, he found a club with the players' basis to work with, existing there. He stayed at Birmingham City for 6 years in total, in two spells, something that can only indicate that the reasons for his resignation are not relating to seeking a famous club, as it proved by going to Wigan.

    At Wigan, he took the club to the maximum of their capabilities, bringing talent from cheap but quality imports from America that Wigan exploited to secure both having stars in the team and cash in the tills. During his time at Wigan, the club were always a strong, safe side in the Premiership.

    A major plus in Steve Bruce is that he can identify talent and won't shy off in making such transfers, when he believes they're worth the risk.

    a) he brought Valencia, Palacios, Rodalega and others to England
    b) as soon as he got an opportunity to have N'Zongbia playing for him, he brought him at Wigan and he is their best player by some distance now
    c) as soon as he got an opportunity to get Bent, besides the negative publicity at the time the player was getting, he didn't shy off parting with some good £millions in order to have him at Sunderland - so many managers didn't, with most notable Mr Wenger who, after the acquisition of Jeffers, we could argue that he's scared to make expensive signings thereafter.

    Plus, his career in English football as a manager is much longer, in comparison to Owen Coyle's. If he was a man who jumps ships, we'd have proof of that by now.

  • Comment number 31.

    Granted, Owen Coyle made the correct decision in moving to Bolton (although not many could see it at the time).

    Granted, Coyle has improved Bolton's brand of football and fans of the club will be relived that they have been replaced by Stoke as the primary targets for abuse relating to so-called 'ugly football'.

    Yet, for the same reason that critics and club owners alike should give managers time to shape a team, articles like this - and many previous ones of this nature -which herald Coyle as some sort of miracle worker and rely on an overcompensation of hyperbole, are very premature. Let's judge Coyle after next season, or when he's actually won something, or got Bolton into Europe.

    Because, to be frank, he a'int done nothing yet.

  • Comment number 32.

    Some interesting thoughts about Owen Coyle and loyalty. Reinasbaldhead (post 28) suggests he will not get to the top until he shows some loyalty to a club. I suspect Coyle thinks that he has made the right stepping-stone moves so far in his managerial career - and done so at the right time.

    I wonder how the subject of loyalty sits with Jose Mourinho - a man who seems to be carving out a reasonable managerial career.

  • Comment number 33.

    @ 32,

    That's a very good point actually.
    Both Murinho and Owen Coyle appear to me to be two managers whose main interest is the improvement of their own CV.

  • Comment number 34.

    Thanks for your feedback Paul. Coyle seems like he will always want to better himself, which I have no problem with. Therefore if say Villa came in (bigger club than Bolton) and with a £25m kitty, I think he would go even if Bolton had achieved a higher league status for 2-3 years.

    Jose is far different, he wins things continuously and the character of the man means he will always fall out with clubs boards irrespective of which club he is at.

  • Comment number 35.

    Are the mods short staffed today??

  • Comment number 36.

    Stroppy (post 31) - he won promotion with Burnley, taking them into the Premier League for the first time in their history.

  • Comment number 37.

    Football Uk - bar Valencia, all the others are average at best, some rave about N'zogbia but tell me this, if he is that good why aren't top clubs in for him?

    Bruce as you suggest will never ever be Utd manager and as a Toon lad what on earth possessed him to take on Sunderland, given time he would have got the desired Newcastle job.

  • Comment number 38.

    Btw i don't class Darren Bent as average either but Bruce did money a lot if money for him at the time!

  • Comment number 39.

    He didn't leave St Johnstone before the Scottish Cup final. It was the Challenge Cup final, which is the equivalent of the FA Trophy.

  • Comment number 40.

    @ 37, Reinasbaldhead,

    tell me about it (N'Zogbia). I wouldn't mind it if he was a useful squad member at United. I am sure he would play fairly enough and shine. If I'm not mistaken, Newcastle have already expressed an interest in getting him back. Yet, how do you expect to sign the star player of a Premiership side fighting relegation?

    Let me pass the question to you, though. Given the quality Suarez added to Liverpool - which is undeniable - why didn't other teams pay the money to Ajax to get him first? They didn't wake up even when Liverpool initially made a low offer, instantly rejected by Ajax - for good reasons as we now know.

    There will always be managers making mistakes out there.

  • Comment number 41.

    @ 38, Reinasbaldhead,

    I didn't refer to Bent because I thought of him as an average player. He's far from average but this only magnifies my point really. At the time Bruce went full on and bought him for Spurs, paying a lot of money as you said yourself, we were reading on the press comments like "my missus would have scored that".

    This is something that only cements an opinion that Bruce has an eye for identifying a good player when others don't see beyond their noses really.

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm not Stroppy anymore. I'm just in tears. Paul Fletcher makes me cry.

    I'm not denying that Coyle is a good manager, or that he will probably continue to improve Bolton.

    I just think there's been a little too much praise for Coyle this season. I know he's made Bolton play a better brand of football, but he would have been even more gifted if he'd actually figured out how to make their style of play worse.

    If we're crediting managers for getting unfancied teams promoted from the second tier, then please, let's all tips our hats to Ian Holloway at Blackpool. And let's not forget, Holloway hasn't abandoned Blackpool halfway through their debut season in the Premier League. He'll stay there until the end, come rain or shine.

  • Comment number 43.

    Football Uk - I think you should go back and do your Bruce research lad. Bent for me was his best purchase, the jury is still out on Gyan.

    As you rightly said, newcastle wanted N'zogbia, hardly a top side half side are they? I didn't know you had links with Ajax or Liverpool people either, how do you know no one noted an interest in Suarez?

  • Comment number 44.

    @ 42 Stoppy,

    Holloway deserves all the credit he gets and even more.
    He keeps a miracle marching at Blackpool.

    If I had a negative to find in him is the defense at Blackpool. It's beautiful how the defenders spread when they're used in triangles of players passing the ball to each other, before building an attack. In many occasions, though, it's been used against them because many times we've seen teams using those huge gaps, hurting the Blackpool defense. He has to sort it out, because if there's one thing Blackpool need to survive, it's got to be those gaps at the back to be closed.

    Still, hats off to Holloway, especially given the budget he's working on!

  • Comment number 45.

    tannadice25 (post 39) - I sorted that but it does not appear to have updated. I've had another go - do accept my apologies.

    Stroppy (post 42) - I certainly didn't start today intending to twist your melon but I seem to be doing so. Yes, I think we all should praise Ian Holloway for getting Blackpool promoted, as we should have done with Coyle the season before. And I think that if you look back at my blogs I duly did so in both cases.

  • Comment number 46.

    Haha, you've not twisted my melon :)

    Just enjoying a bit of healthy debate!

    I say again, I do think Coyle is an excellent young manager. A lot of people are marvelling at how much Redknapp has transformed Spurs's fortunes - and this is obviously the result of a talented manager finally having serious resources at his disposal.

    One wonders what Coyle could do with such funds. After Mancini and Ancelotti (and maybe even Wenger) leave in the summer, there will be big jobs available. However, we all know that the leading lights of the English Premier League baulk at the idea of employing a native in their most important role.

    So, I suppose the good news for Bolton fans is that they may have Coyle in charge for a while yet!

  • Comment number 47.

    Steve Bruce to manage ManU? Somebody's having a laugh. Nice guy but a lousy manager. Let's hope ManU do not repeat the mistakes of the 70s when, after Sir Matt's retirement, they appointed a former player. There is no British manager at the moment who would stand a chance of replacing SAF.

  • Comment number 48.

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

  • Comment number 49.


    Pulis and Coyle do as much whinging if not more than Ferguson and Wenger, it just doesn't receive the same amount of attention because they are not at as high profile clubs.

  • Comment number 50.

    Did a good job at Burnley (and left at the right time). Now doing a good job at Bolton (and will probably leave at the right time again). But, although he has improved the football at Bolton (slightly) they are still mainly a long ball team. That said, hopefully they will beat the knuckle draggers of Stoke City!

  • Comment number 51.

    I think you'll find his first role in management was at Falkirk, co-manager along with John Hughes.

  • Comment number 52.

    I was a fan of his when he played (he deserved more than one cap he got ), I am delighted at the success he has had as a manager . Next manager after Trap please .

  • Comment number 53.

    Owen Coyle turned down an offer from Gretna that was five times higher than what he was going to get at Airdrie, simply because he gave Airdrie his word that he would sign for them. So, he's hardly a man that goes after the money. He is a man of integrity that merely wants to play or manage at the highest level possible.

    He signed for Airdrie on three separate occasions (as well as a loan spell) and was even the highest scorer at the ages of 37 and 38, then became our assistant manager under Sandy Stewart (his current assistant manager). Sure, he played for 12 clubs and has managed 4, but Airdrie is the team he loves

  • Comment number 54.

    I don't think I'd call Coyle a mercenary, he's simply ambitious to go as far as he can in the game. You have to remember, before he moved to Bolton from Burnley, he turned down the chance to manage Celtic, which is the club he grew up supporting. He was obviously focused on trying to prove himself in the Premiership, rather than as one of the big fish in the small pond that is the SPL.

    I'm not surprised he went to Bolton, he had a connection with the club and, sorry Burnley fans, they were a bigger and more established premiership side. He possibly thought the Burnley board weren't showing enough ambition after he'd taken them to the premiership, and may have been right when you see who they appointed as his succesor.

  • Comment number 55.

    Odd that people are talking about Coyle and Mourinho in the same breath. Not comparable. Coyle left Burnley because the Burnley Board didn't want to bankrupt the club by spending big while trying to stay in the premiership. Simple as. If they could have stayed up by spending a little, but staying solvent, they would have done. But, with all respect to Burnley (and I went to school there, and played on t'Turf a couple of times in school cup finals) they're a Championship club. If they could do a WBA and keep banking the parachute payments it would suit them fine. Bolton offered a better option for Coyle: money; longevity in the premiership, and probably ambition. Can't criticise the fella for wanting that for a club - especially one which is close to his heart!

  • Comment number 56.

    Bolton are only in the semi final as they have been lucky in the FA Cup draws, if they had drawn Man Utd, Arsenal or Chelsea away it is more than likely they would be out of the competition. Nobody should read much into the fact that a team reaches a final or semi final, after all Millwall and Cardiff have both reached the final in recent years, and Portsmouth even won it.

  • Comment number 57.

    Bolton are only in the semi final as they have been lucky in the FA Cup draws, if they had drawn Man Utd, Arsenal or Chelsea away it is more than likely they would be out of the competition. Nobody should read much into the fact that a team reaches a final or semi final, after all Millwall and Cardiff have both reached the final in recent years, and Portsmouth even won it.


    Yes drawing THREE Premier league club is a lucky draw. At least try and do some research before posting.

  • Comment number 58.

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

  • Comment number 59.

    @ 55, lookathat,

    It sounds strange when you put Owen Coyle in the same bracket with Jose Murinho, yes. If you read 'why', though, you'd realise that both are two football managers who look after their CV before anything else. And that's true.

    I can't understand how you came with a second tier Premiership side giving longevity to a manager - are you having a joke?
    Are you insisting Owen Coyle moved to Bolton for the salary? :)
    What are Bolton ambitions? Weren't there rumours already that Bolton are already in the red, financially? When you're doing poorly with this return in position on the table, what ambitions can you have?

  • Comment number 60.

    @ Paul Fletcher,

    It's really funny that my (polite and to the point) response to Reinasbaldhead who, at #48, suggests I am on drugs for saying Bruce should be preferred as a choice for a Manchester United manager if the alternative was Owen Coyle.

    a) he twists my response
    b) he says I'm on drugs

    ...and I am breaking the house rules.

    Appalling or a joke? :)

  • Comment number 61.

    @ Paul Fletcher,

    My comment is related to what you mentioned in an earlier comment (on this blog) about the semis being played at Wembley in spite of the fact that Stoke is the furthest south of the 4 participants. I for one think playing FA cup semis at Wembley diminishes the magic of the final. I loved it when the semis were played at grounds of suitable size and geographical proximity to the competing clubs. I guess it goes back to the whole money thing but I still can't help thinking it is a crying shame!

  • Comment number 62.

    Having watched WHUFC totally fail to form a cohesive unit over the past 12 months, I'd love to have someone like Coyle at the helm. Despite some decent signings, Grant still doesn't seem to know his best team and we are consistently awful at full-back regardless of who plays there.

    Coyle clearly gets the best out of his players and they are a good team to watch while looking disciplined and well-drilled. Not sure Man U would go in for him, but can definitely see him at Spurs if and when Redknapp takes over the national team.


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