The rationale behind Coyle’s move to Bolton
Owen Coyle’s widely-publicised move from Burnley to Bolton has been described as a “sideways move” by Burnley officials, but could the Scottish manager come to regret his switch to the Reebok Stadium?
The warning signs from similar moves, such as the downward spiral of events that was Sam Allardyce’s spell at Newcastle United, are there for all to see.
Allardyce’s brand of football at Bolton Wanderers may not have won him or the club many admirers, certainly not Arsene Wenger or Rafa Benitez, but even two of Britain’s most successful foreign imports would begrudgingly admit that their football was effective.
At that time, Newcastle was a step too far for Allardyce and he is now remoulding Blackburn Rovers after replacing Paul Ince at Ewood Park. Indeed Ince’s appointment as manager of Rovers is another example of a manager punching above his weight.
Ince’s talent is undeniable; his track record with MK Dons is impressive to say the least. But more experience was required before he took on the rigours of the Premier League.
Coyle’s move to Bolton has been well-documented in recent days. Since the sacking of Gary Megson the media has gone into overdrive.
The Scot understands the culture at the club. He has been described by some sections of supporters as a “club legend”. Kind words for a player who made a relatively modest 54 appearances for the club.
His predecessor, Gary Megson, suffered regular abuse from the boo-boys and was left the unenviable task of replacing club hero Allardyce. Overtly, Coyle can expect a warm reception at Bolton despite the frosty weather conditions.
Burnley have enjoyed their Premier League baptism with Coyle encouraging his side to play attractive, attacking football, and it has proved successful at Turf Moor.
It is not the first time Bolton have attempted to rid themselves of the Ã¢â‚¬Ëœlong ball’ stigma which has burdened them in recent seasons. Sammy Lee endeavoured to tinker with Bolton’s playing style but ultimately failed and suffered the chop.
The failure of this attractive brand of football may well have proved to be the decisive factor when Bolton chairman Phil Gartside opted for the cautious approach offered by Megson, opposed to the more adventurous brand proposed by Coyle in replacing Lee.
Just over two years later the Bolton hierarchy appear willing to give this enticing style of football another chance.
Burnley meanwhile, have been left in their own words, ‘traumatised’ by whole affair. And understandably so.
Coyle rejected his boyhood heroes, Celtic, to continue on at Turf Moor in the summer. He signed an extension to his contract and his future seemed secure.
The club have enjoyed a good start, especially enjoying a rich vein of form at home, suffering only one loss. Under Coyle they have shown flair, verve and tenacity.
These are the qualities that Gartside will be hoping can be successfully implemented at the Reebok.
Yesterday Burnley chairman, Barry Kilby, goaded at his Lancashire rivals saying: “I fully expected that when Owen did move from here, that he would go upwards from Burnley and not to someone who is sideways, a club who we are fighting a relegation scrap with.”
A quick glance at the league would suggest Kilby may have a point. Bolton are not vastly superior to Burnley.
But they are an established top flight side despite recent skirmishes at the foot of the league. There are greater resources at the Reebok and Coyle is rumoured to have £10 million to spend on new acquisitions.
However, it still comes as a surprise that Coyle seems willing to make the switch at this point in the season. He his leaving unfinished business at Burnley and the challenge of keeping the side he brought into the Premier League up is one that Coyle would surely have relished.
After all, it is the same task that he now faces at Bolton.
It is a clearly a bitter blow for Burnley, but a quick appointment would bring some much needed stability to the club with Premier League survival a very real possibility.
Coyle certainly hasn’t moved above his station, he has gingerly made a small step up the Premier League ladder. Nonetheless, it will be intriguing to watch Bolton evolve under the guidance of Coyle.