skip to content

Owen Coyle: Bolton boss insists he's a million miles from being as good as Sir Alex Ferguson

26 Sep 2010 10:30:00

Owen Coyle: Bolton boss insists he's a million miles from being as good as Sir Alex Ferguson

Owen Coyle is well into his stride, recalling the experiences that have formed him as a man and manager. Anecdotes abound, from his time growing up with five brothers and three sisters in a three-bedroom house in Glasgow's once-infamous Gorbals to his nomadic career as a mediocre professional footballer around the clubs of the Scottish leagues. Settling back on the sofa at the modest social room at Bolton's training ground, he is in his element. There is little pretension here: it has all the airs and graces of the staff room at a comprehensive school, an odd hotchpotch of chairs, where Coyle and his coaches enjoy their instant coffee and prepare for games such as Sunday's against Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United.  Sky's the limit: Owen Coyle has serious ambitions as a Premier League manager It is the modern-day equivalent of Bill Shankly's bootroom in an era when Chelsea's interior design is styled by Dolce and Gabbana. Amid the repartee, comes a pertinent story. 'When I was at Motherwell, Harri Kampman came in from Finland,' recalls the Bolton manager, the words tumbling out. 'He'd done a terrific job at MyPa in Finland and Harri had basic English, but he used to struggle with his Fs and Qs. So he would shout: "Worward Wickly!" from the side. He was a good manager and a really nice man, but as players we would have a bit of banter with that. Home grown: Owen Coyle, in his Motherwell days, challenges Paul Gascoigne 'So Stevie Woods, who was goalkeeper and one of my best pals, fought for three or four years to establish himself as the No 1 goalkeeper at Motherwell. But Harri went and signed Mikko Kaven from HJK Helsinki, who had just been in the Champions League. 'So first game, Harri played Mikko Kaven in goal and Stevie came to me, as one of the senior players, for a bit of wisdom and said: "Coyley, what am I'm going to do?" I said: "I'll tell you what you're going to do. You're going to go in and knock that door down " - I'm a manager now, I shouldn't be saying this - "and you're going to ask him what's going on?" 'So he said: "That's what I'm going to do". 'So anyway, Stevie Woods knocks on the door. "Yes, Steven," says Harri. "Come in." 'And Stevie says: "Gaffer, I just need to know where I stand. I fought for three or four years to establish myself as the No 1 goalkeeper and all of a sudden you've signed Mikko Kaven?" 'And Harri turned to Stevie and said: "Steven, I can assure you that you are my worst-choice goalkeeper "' Stevie Woods never did get his place back under Harri Kampman and Coyle has never forgotten the importance of communication. 'I wish I had learned a foreign language when I was younger,' he says. 'It's just laziness because we take it for granted that everyone speaks English. To young managers starting off now, I would say: "Go with your languages". 'I think back to when Alex Mac- Donald, a fantastic manager when I was at Airdrie, used to listen to Spanish tapes in the car and he was just picking it up for his holidays. I thought to myself, "You should be doing something like that". And now when I look back, I wish I had. 'I love my job here, but when you look at jobs on the Continent, you're more than capable of doing them, but because there's a language barrier it would be a problem. 'But you're not telling me that a David Moyes or a Martin O'Neill couldn't manage Inter or Real Madrid? Of course they could, because these are top-class managers.' Coyle is quick to point out that, at present, he as no plans to take over at Barcelona or move to AC Milan, his job at Bolton having begun in controversial circumstances only nine months ago. Yet his regrets are an indication of his fierce ambition, to which Burnley fans, vociferous in their denunciation of him on his first return to the club last week in Bolton's Carling Cup defeat at Turf Moor, can testify. He rebuffs suggestion that money was the motive for his move. 'I've never been motivated by money. I dropped salary five times in my career because I wanted to play,' he says. 'The people who know me, and knew me at the clubs I've been at, know that money has not come into it. When I came down [to Burnley] I was probably in the bottom three or four in the Championship in terms of salary. Money never interested me, as long as it's a fair salary for what I'm doing.' What was important for Coyle was proving to others that he had the ability to take a club on. 'That's what drives me on,' he says. And so he moved to Bolton, where he will remain for now, though of all the young managers in the Premier League - he is 44 - Coyle is the one most-frequently tipped to rise to the top. That lack of languages, though, may yet thwart him. International experience is usually deemed essential for ambitious Britons who wish to manage a Premier League team competing in the Champions League. 'The only way that any of us can change that is by continuing to do well,' responds Coyle. 'You have to remember, too, that when Sir Alex came to Manchester United they weren't the club they are now. Sir Alex has built that club up.' Coyle's c.v. is also impressive for his stage of life. If the measure ofa manager's strength is how much better off a club is when they leave, Coyle has served St Johnstone, who were in the Scottish Challenge Cup Final, and Burnley, who were in the Premier League, well. Enlarge Equally, he was mid-contract with both clubs when he left for better opportunities, though he also turned down the chance to take over at Celtic in 2008, having just guided Burnley into the top flight. 'And if someone had said a few years ago that I'd be offered the Celtic job but turn it down, I'd have put them in an asylum,' said Coyle. His drive to improve seems insatiable. A teetotal, practising Catholic - little surprise that Celtic were his boyhood team - even an aside on Pope Benedict's visit to Britain turns into a homily on the work ethic. 'My wife, Kerry, and my kids went up to Glasgow to see him and I was hoping to go but never managed it,' he says. 'We all draw inspiration from different things, but I think he was terrific for everybody who saw him. And given his age, his workload over those few days tells people there's nothing wrong with hard work.' It is Coyle's mantra. Indeed, his life has been that of a small man fighting to punch above his weight. 'I maximised everything I had, because to play at the level I managed to, with my physique, should have been near impossible. But I did, I drove myself on to be the best I could be. I made sure I was supremely fit, that I could score a goal. I wasn't particularly quick, I wasn't physically strong but I used the best of my abilities and I do that as a manager.' Not unlike another Glaswegian manager, whom he faces on Sunday. 'I'm a million miles from that level,' he concedes. But you sense he feels that need not be the case for ever.  BOLTON v Man United: Owen Coyle to choose between Jussi Jaaskelainen and Adam BogdanBurnley 1 Bolton 0: Elliot wades in with boo boys to ruin Coyle returnI would never have left Burnley: Owen Coyle admits head ruled his heart in move to BoltonBOLTON WANDERERS FC


Daily_Mail

Sponsored links

advertisement

Related Manchester United News

advertisement

advertisment