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Coyle’s move to Bolton described as “sideways move” by Burnley

January 9, 2010

Owen Coyle, one of the brightest young Managers in English Football at the moment, guilty of making one of the most stupid Managerial moves ever, or a sly career move that will pay dividends in the end?

Coyle’s move a few miles south from Burnley to Bolton has really got people stumped. Burnley are currently 14th in the Premier Division, and while they’re far from clear of the drop, you’d definitely back them to stay up, especially against Bolton. Bolton are 18th following the departure of the much unloved Gary Megson, and I think it’s safe to say they will be in the relegation mixer come the 36th, 37th, and 38th games of the season. So why, oh why did you make that move Owen?

Money can’t be an issue, as neither Bolton nor Burnley have that much. You could argue that Bolton’s budget is slightly bigger than Burnley’s, but not so much as to attract a Manager from a very similar Club.

Burnley have some of the most passionate supporters in England, and I’d know as one of my friends is a Burnley fan through and through. They love their team, and were delighted with the job Coyle was doing. There were very few people who believed Burnley would avoid the drop in their first Premier League season, and I’m not too sure many of their own supporters believed that would happen either. So 14th after 20 games is more than decent.

Bolton’s style over the years has been very direct. Sam Allardyce got them hitting target men, most notably Kevin Davies and pretty much feeding off the scraps he left. They’d be made up of big, strong players who wouldn’t be afraid to go through you with a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude. Burnley aren’t quite like that. They play more, and probably better passing Football, as is Owen Coyle’s style. So can we expect a change in strategy from Bolton now? I should think so, but that will have to start straight away by investing players in the January transfer window that fit that system. Bolton don’t possess too many Footballers that would please the purists.

It confuses me as to why Coyle would want to leave Burnley in the middle of such a progressing, successful project there. For a start he got them into the Premier League against most odds, and with a pretty limited squad and budget. Now he’s more than holding his own in that League. I mean, Burnley have beaten Manchester United at Turf Moor, and have only lost once at home all season. That’s a remarkable record for a newly promoted team. Surely he’d want to finish off that project by ensuring Burnley finish in a respectable position, which would probably class as anything above the drop zone. I could understand if he’d left at the end of the season after achieving Premier League status for another year, but half way through staggers me.

The only reason I can think of for his sudden move is that Bolton still holds a place in his heart from his playing days. Coyle spent two of his twenty-three playing years at Bolton, and made 54 appearances. Even that doesn’t seem credible. It wasn’t a long stint at the club, but it must have been special to him if that is the reason he wanted to move. Lee Dixon suggested on BBC’s Football Focus that Coyle may feel he has a better chance of staying in the Premier League with Bolton, but their League position and recent results don’t suggest that to be the case.

Burnley Operations Director Brendan Flood revealed his dismay at Coyle’s decision.

They have got a bank debt of £44m, we have got none. They do not have a history of spending a lot of money over the last few years. I think they can say a lot of attractive things to tempt Owen in, but whether they deliver on those, I think history will tell.

Chairman Barry Kilby admitted that the move was a “sideways step” for Owen, and one that didn’t represent any great ambition.

So no one quite knows why Owen Coyle has made the move to South Lancashire, but time will tell as to whether it was the correct one.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2010 6:22 pm

    Everyone (especially the neutrals) raved about Phil Brown & Hull half way through his first Premier League season (even talk of the Sunderland job for him). Now, its not 100% that Hull want him, let alone any other team. The neutrals now sneer at him & Hull. Football is a fickle business. Everyone currently thinks the world of Burnley, but if they hit a similar losing run (recent results haven’t been great) & get relegated, plenty of people would have a go. They’d call Coyle naive for sticking to his attacking football, not having a plan B etc. & suddenly oppotunities for him would dry up.
    You have to take opportunities when they are presented & the Bolton one came now for Coyle.
    3x times the budget, an established Premiership club (7th in the table of points accumulated in the last 10 years), a better squad (that haven’t been allowed to play attacking football but are perfectly capable of doing so), a better infrastructure & facilities & a personal place in his heart.
    If you’re going to bring level of debt into it then that cancels out most of the clubs in the Premier League. How many ‘bigger clubs’ without debt are likely to get rid of their managers in the next season or so? How many of them would consider Coyle instead of a big name foreign manager? Bolton may not be much of a step up, but it is another stepping stone to bigger & better things. Coyle’s made the best decision for him & his family, as any man would.
    You can’t blame him.

  2. George permalink
    January 9, 2010 6:32 pm

    Yep, you make some good points C.
    But say Bolton do go down this season and Burnley stay up? Surely that’ll prove that he made the wrong decision?

    I’m not sure about Bolton having 3 times Burnley’s budget. But I’m sure they have a bit more to spend. However, if that is the case then it obviously hasn’t been spent very wisely if Bolton still end up in the bottom 3, whereas Burnley have less money but have had a more successful season. I would have liked to have seem Coyle stick at it with Burnley and see how they end up at the end of the season.

  3. January 9, 2010 7:08 pm

    It’s pretty simple, really. Burnley have been performing to their maximum ability with few players being Premiership material. And Coyle should know this better than anyone. Bolton have been underperforming badly for a year or so, but they have a decent squad and a little money to spend too. Burnley may be sitting in midtable while Bolton are in the Bottom three, but there’s a TWO point difference with Bolton having two games in hand. Not much of a difference really? As for the sideways move: Bolton have been in the EPL for ten years running, Burnley are surprise visitors for the first time in ages, they’re worlds apart!

    So the choice is simple for Coyle: A smaller club driven into a precarious midtable situation on adrenaline and excitement bur feeling the pressure (no wins in NINE outings) compared to a considerably more established club with more money (for Coyle himself as well!) better squad, and with limited pressure because they’ve been underperforming for years. A club where the supporters absolutely loves him as well.

    It’s a no brainer really!

    And if Burnley really are diamonds in the rough, hidden talents making up for the obvious advantages of a Bolton move who’s the best judge of those. Well, Owen Coyle is a pretty good bet, right?

  4. Mike Mada permalink
    January 9, 2010 8:12 pm

    The challenge for Coyle will be how to change a footballing philosophy very quickly.

    For the first year of his tenure at Burnley, he struggled – even as late as this time last year, they weren’t that good, yet they managed to get promoted. That may be adrenaline or charisma on his part or both. He will really have to hit the ground running.

    Because Burnley’s expectations were very limited, he certainly overachieved this season, with the points haul to date, yet because of Coyle’s Plan A, which frequently came unstuck away from home, there was no Plan B and they are where they are. Even a couple of wins with a sprinkling of draws away would have had them up to Birmingham and Liverpool.

    Despite being described this week as the ‘Scottish tactician’, Coyle didn’t have that Plan B when needed. This was borne out in the second leg of the Carling Cup semi against Spurs where common sense would have suggested a tightening after the final whistle and once extra time started. Naive tactics and that gung-ho attitude are admirable in the Roy of the Rovers era, but doesn’t get you to cup finals against Premiership opposition. There were a number of critical draws last season where we were in a winning position, yet he did not have the nous to make that happen.

    Was he afraid that if he didn’t move, his tactical naivety was being found out, despite constantly carping about a small budget that he took on happily at the start of the campaign? In that I don’t have to hear that broken record any more, which was frankly embarrassing, I’m pleased he’s gone. (I wonder how long it will take for him to use this excuse at Bolton – listen out for repetitive excuse as sound-bites, he’s great at that).

    Bolton’s expectations will be all the greater already, so if there is a run of 10 away games where they only get 1 point, I wonder how long it will take for the notoriously treacherous Reebok fanbase to lose faith. Bolton’s squad is woefully inadequate apart from Jaskelaainen and Cahill and perhaps Taylor (Davies is a long-ball merchant, so that won’t work with the one style Coyle has in the bag). Even with £10M in pocket as has been mentioned, Coyle will not turn round this team that fast and if he tries to change their style at the same time, anything might happen – none of it good.

    Coyle might well see his time out in England as a Championship manager with backers rapidly panicking and selling off the Cahill’s of this world to reduce debt.

    Finally, as a Claret for almost 50 years, I would never have begrudged Coyle going at the right time. In the Summer we wondered about Celtic and saw that off. Coyle’s CV would become much stronger with Burnley maintaining Premiership status. I would then have been delighted for him to be ‘promoted’.

    We would be stabilized a little more, following the ‘plan’ where Coyle was working for the future. What has irked so many was that Coyle had built a huge trust in hungry fans and up to the last minute he was saying all the right things, maintaining that trust, only to be swayed by the overtures of a greedy Gartside with the nudge of a scheming journalist along the way (and one, I might add, who got him to us in the first place, so we weren’t immune) – I wonder what he made out of this scheming?

    I thought Coyle was one of the very few men of honour left in the game, who played with courage and excitement. This honour and trust has disintegrated and football has reverted to form in a sad week for football.

    Have no doubt, my team will do their best to come through this – even though they are devastated by being betrayed by a manager with whom they had developed a trusting relationship too, whether we will survive is, of course still to be decided.

    Bolton were pretty much on the hated end of clubs around before all this, now they will be even more so, whilst we were loved. this week will only polarize opinion even more.

    I hope that fairness and rightness are the winners come May.

  5. January 9, 2010 9:13 pm

    Coyle doesn’t have to change the footballing philosophy quickly & he’s surely sensible enough to realise that trying to do so would be detrimental. No Bolton fan is expecting miracles & to be playing samba football in two weeks. To say we are “notoriously treacherous” is just plain wrong. Before Megson there were many arduous times of relegation & poor football but we’d never turned on a manager – because we never had reason to. Even when we played poor football (yes Big Sam included) there was still a passion & a belief in the players & the manager (we didn’t even boo Sammy Lee). Smegson sucked the life & soul from our club. If you had had to endure him at Turf Moor you would have done the same (look at his previous records at clubs – sacked 5 times now!).
    Remember, when we were first “yo-yo ing” in and out of the league we were many people’s second team because we were the underdogs sticking it to the big guns. Then we started getting into top 8 & Europe & cup finals which people resented due to our style of football. The recent press coverage will mean we are indeed hated by most. I can take that because after 2 years of footballing misery there is finally a buzz back at the Reebok & the fans are united. Its only 50/50 that we’ll stay up but the fans would rather go down with Coyle in charge than stay up with Dregson.
    Coyle could have waited until the end of the season & HOPE that there’s a ‘bigger’ job available then but what if there isn’t? Whether Burnley stay up or go down they will lose their best young players to anyone willing to offer over £15k a week. Their aim, as with most newly promoted clubs, for the next few seasons is to somehow stay in the Premiership at as little cost as possible.
    Bolton’s ambitions (or lack of) recently have been the same but being an established Premiership club they should be to go for mid-table with maybe the odd cheeky crack at Europe. They are now willing to invest in this goal, even though this is at a risk (how big a risk only time will tell).
    Also, there are players who can play football in the squad but who haven’t been able to under the last regime. Cahill, Steinsson, Lee Chung Yong, Klasnic, Mark Davies, Gardner among others can all play. I also think Big Kev isn’t done yet. He’s better with his feet than he gets credit for & Coyle has been playing that donkey Fletcher up front who is of a similar ilk. With a couple of additions we will have a solid squad good enough to stay up. Whether we do or not will be down to how good Coyle really is.
    However, Burnley staying up & Bolton going down doesn’t necessarily make it the wrong decision. It’ll be where the clubs (& Owen Coyle) are in 4 or 5 years.
    Btw, I’d have preferred to get Coyle at the end of the season as I’d like to see Burnley stay up but unfortunately that wasn’t an option.
    Let’s hope both clubs are still in the Premiership next season. The more north west derbies the better!

  6. paul smith permalink
    January 9, 2010 10:15 pm

    Many factual inaccuracies in all these comments:

    Let me correct a few:

    Bolton ‘s debts have ben paid off by the owner. He has provided funding of upto £66 million since June 2009. We have no debt.
    We have a new stadium, training facilities, and academy which has been completed. Burnley have nothing.
    Our fans are very patient. We have had only six managers in over 20 years only 2 of those were sacked. Until Sammy Lee was sacked no Bolton chairman had sacked a manager since Charlie Wright in the 1980’s.
    Megson was sacked because of poor results, not because of the fans. Look at the league table, we had won 7 games in the whole of 2009.

  7. January 10, 2010 3:05 pm

    All Coyle has done is strike while his stock is still high

    If he waited til end of the season, Burnley could be in the bottom 3 and he could be out of a job. Remember how highly rated Aidy Boothroyd was a few years back? When youre flavour of the month you have to take your chance. Bolton may not be a massive step up but they have been established in the Prem long enough. He has probably got a very nice signing on fee with it all as well

    Good bit of business for him i think

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