New boss Coyle restores Bolton's soul

08 January 2010 05:00
Owen Coyle's arrival as Bolton boss has dispersed the grey clouds which have hovered over the Reebok Stadium for far too long - and now everyone involved with the Trotters can start pulling in the same direction once again.

Ever since the Sam Allardyce era came to a somewhat bitter end back in May 2007 after the best part of eight pioneering years, Bolton have struggled against the spectre of relegation.

But, more crucially, the ongoing off-the-field battle between the fans, former manager Gary Megson and the board has torn the fabric of the club apart.

The Wanderers faithful never felt their views were heard as they desperately lobbied chairman Phil Gartside against the appointment of Megson to replace the sacked Sammy Lee with the team languishing at the foot of the Premier League table in October of that same fateful year.

On his unveiling, Megson described the fans as the "bedrock of the club" but over the course of his tenure he was regularly accused of alienating them and apart from a short-lived 'Ginger Mourinho' spell during his first season at the helm, the relationship between both parties was always on the rocks.

The supporters grew increasingly disillusioned with Megson's tactics and apparent unwillingness to change his ways while a succession of poor results this season has seen Bolton plummet right into the relegation picture - hardly a progression from when he first took charge.

Many Trotters fans believed Megson was sucking the soul out of the club and the animosity towards him came to a head following a 2-2 draw with Hull in their last fixture of 2009. The board could no longer ignore the calls for his head, sacking the 50-year-old the very next morning.

His departure sparked an immediate feelgood factor and during the 4-0 FA Cup victory over Lincoln, the home crowd repeatedly chanted Coyle's name as they sensed their former striker would soon make a dream return.

The 43-year-old, of course, has cult status with the Trotters due to his goalscoring exploits in the early 1990s and his arrival will undoubtedly reignite the supporters' passion and enthusiasm.

But it's not really his past links with Bolton which make him such a superb choice as manager at this precarious time.

Coyle has quickly earned himself a reputation as an inspiring young manager and having made an impressive mark at St Johnstone, where he guided his side to the semi-finals of both the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup in 2007, he was snapped up by Burnley in November of the following season.

Ironically it has been suggested Coyle was Gartside's second choice behind Megson for the vacant Bolton post just one month earlier and the Trotters chairman subsequently recommended him to the Clarets, who have since enjoyed an unforgettable journey beyond their wildest dreams.

In just his second season at Turf Moor, operating on a shoestring budget, the Scot performed a minor miracle by leading Burnley to the Premier League for the first time via a nerve-jangling play-off final against Sheffield United.

And their run to the last four of the Carling Cup captured the imagination of the neutrals up and down the country.

Famous victories over Chelsea and Arsenal helped them on the way to the semi-finals before a heartbreaking extra-time defeat to Tottenham - having memorably clawed their way back from 4-1 down after the first leg to level it up at 4-4 - denied them a place in a major Wembley final.

Coyle is regarded as an upbeat, vibrant character with a desire to not only win games but also promote an attacking brand of football with whatever players he has at his disposal.

Coyle has been hailed for creating a buzz around the dressing room and maintaining a terrific team spirit at Burnley which has helped them exceed all expectations during the first half of their maiden Premier League season.

And his positive vibe on the touchline gets the right response from the crowd, whose passionate support has helped create a fortress atmosphere at Turf Moor this season.

The Burnley faithful quickly learned that anything is possible under Coyle's management and they are the perfect model to illustrate just what can be achieved at any level when all forces at a club - from the manager right through to the fans - are pulling hard in the same direction.

This is what Bolton have been crying out for and finally the appointment of Coyle can repair all the damage of the previous era and allow them to ride a wave of optimism towards a brighter future.

He takes over a squad of players who really just need a confidence boost while misfits such as Johan Elmander may just be given a new lease of life to finally make their mark and silence the doubters.

Bolton are hardly the richest club in the Premier League and are currently below Burnley in the table, but the nine seasons of top-flight experience under their belt has allowed them to build an impressive infrastructure which must surely provide the ambitious Coyle with a greater platform to grow.

However, if this new dawn is to be truly realised, then the supporters must now cut their chairman a bit of slack and rebuild their side of the bridge towards the club's hierarchy.

The whole situation will have been tough for Gartside as a person and a chairman considering how much faith he put in Megson, but in accepting a change was essential, he obviously still puts the club first.

By bringing Coyle to the Wanderers - surely nigh on a unanimous choice from the fans - he's given the people want they want so now it's down to them to accept the olive branch and stop pointing the finger of blame.

There can be no guarantee that Coyle's arrival will see Bolton climb the table to safety but even if the Trotters do go down, they will have at least failed in harmony rather than survived in acrimony.

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Source: Team_Talk