Coyle's high-risk Bolton move
Owen Coyle came to worldwide attention when the razzamatazz of Wrestlemania XXV in Houston last April was punctured by a Burnley fan brandishing a banner in front of millions of American television viewers.
It read "Owen Coyle Is God". There is now a Facebook group with nearly 800 members paying similar homage while a Burnley butcher gratefully created a sausage in the 43-year-old Scot's honour after he guided The Clarets back to English football's top tier after 33 years. There was even a suggestion local crime rates had dropped in line with improved results.
Now Coyle appears to be considering risking this elevated status, not to mention the butcher's sausages, by pondering the 31-mile trip from Burnley's Turf Moor home to Bolton Wanderers and the Reebok Stadium.
Coyle has a sentimental attachment to The Trotters after making 78 appearances for the club in the mid-1990s - but is this actually a wise move for a manager whose reputation has been growing steadily since he left St Johnstone for Burnley in November 2007?
After watching both Burnley and Bolton this season, I am not convinced. Coyle is one of the managerial stars of the future and, with Burnley ahead of Bolton in the Premier League, it looks a high-risk strategy and a sideways switch.
Burnley's fans are mystified as to why Coyle would quit the club for Bolton when they realistically accept bigger and better offers may be down the line if he continues his rapid managerial maturity. And I sympathise with them - although they can be assured this is not a move Coyle will make without much soul-searcing.
Owen Coyle (right) celebrates with David Nugent (centre) and Tyrone Mears after Nugent's equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Bolton on Boxing Day
Is Bolton currently a bigger and better club for Coyle to join than Burnley? Not on this season's evidence, but it seems more lavish budgets on offer down the road may lure Coyle away from Turf Moor.
Coyle ignored Celtic's courtship to stay at Burnley this season, citing what he had built at Turf Moor, the players he had persuaded to come to the club, and his desire to continue what he called "this incredible adventure".
Not a huge amount appears to have changed since then, which would make this switch even more surprising, although Coyle may now be more aware of the need for added financial muscle at elite level, which he will expect Bolton to provide.
Burnley's Premier League season has been one of light and shade. Formidable home form has been countered by defeats away from Turf Moor - but Coyle's status is unlikely to be affected even if they returned to the Championship at the end of the season.
It is easy to see why Bolton chairman Phil Gartside is attracted to Coyle's talents. Burnley chairman Barry Kilby made instant comparisons with Bill Shankly after an interview for his vacant manager's job - but it was Gartside's glowing reference for Coyle that helped to seal the deal.
What Gartside gave Burnley he now wants to take away. And the appointment of Coyle, who remains a popular figure at Bolton, would be a coup that will heal some of the wounds caused by Gartside's divisive appointment of Gary Megson.
Megson was never going to win over large portions of Bolton's support. Indeed, when I watched Bolton score a late equaliser against Stoke amid a poisonous Reebok atmosphere earlier this season, some home fans appeared to have mixed feelings as the goal removed some heat from their manager.
On the other hand, Coyle's commitment to attractive, passing football will be seen as a seismic and welcome change in culture by Bolton's supporters, who never warmed to what they regarded - harshly on occasions - as Megson's more basic approach to the game.
Bolton would offer Coyle greater financial scope than Burnley, with more transfer funds to work with and a wage bill that is reportedly three times larger than their counterparts at Turf Moor. But will it be a war chest of such significance to make Bolton a guaranteed better option than Burnley? That remains open to question.
My belief remains that Coyle may eventually be in a position to do better than Bolton and now is not the time to leave a club where he is revered.
I got into trouble with some Wolves fans recently when I registered my preference for a manager like Coyle, who believes he can win every game and has beaten Manchester United and taken a point off Arsenal at Turf Moor this season, in the wake of the defeatist and below-strength line-up Mick McCarthy took to Old Trafford.
After witnessing Coyle's team in action on the pitch as well as his performance off it this season, I am convinced he is destined for big things. Bigger than Bolton? To be brutal, yes.
Tea-total Coyle is a hugely impressive figure, who talks with real passion and love for football and Burnley, all at a breathtaking pace that leaves hardened journalists bemoaning their failure to maintain old shorthand skills. Asking the question is easy - writing down the answer is a risky business.
It would be a devastating blow for Burnley to lose Coyle. It could be akin to removing the magic carpet from under a club that has travelled so far so quickly.
It is almost a ritual to watch Coyle take Turf Moor's acclaim at the conclusion of home games. He has fostered a spirit of unity among his players and the town. They revel in every second of the Premier League experience.
Coyle employs a ferocious work ethic and legend has it that he gets by on a limited sleep pattern that rivals Margaret Thatcher's - with apologies for the comparison to lifelong Burnley supporter Alastair Campbell.
He is tactically shrewd, a perfect public face for Burnley Football Club and more importantly has brought success back to one of the game's most historic locations. No wonder Bolton want him.
It would be a move that might finally allow Bolton's fans to forget the successes enjoyed under Sam Allardyce and move forward under a progressive member of one of the younger generation of managers.
Coyle would be making a brave move to leave Burnley for Bolton, and the banners and Facebook may not make such pleasant reading next time. Whether it turns out to be a wise one remains to be seen.
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