Date: 9th October 2012 at 1:36pm
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Coming to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

I went to Bolton this weekend, the first time that I had been to the town in fifteen years.

But, you don’t want to read about that. You want to read opinion on the decision by Bolton Wanderers to dispense with the services of Owen Coyle and various members of his backroom staff.

It is just shy of three years that Owen Coyle came to The Reebok from Burnley, banishing the memory of the dark days of the Megson era and becoming the first manager to have his name splashed across the stadium. And it started well, leading the club to safety and then to Wembley. But then something happened and the club went on a downward spiral that it has still to get out of. If the sacking of Owen Coyle is the answer to that, then it has happened at exactly the right time, albeit probably twenty four hours late.

There are various things that can be pointed out that OC did wrong at the club. His constant bigging up of the opposition, the numerous times he said ‘Barclays Premier League’, his constant whoring of Gary Cahill and then, to a lesser extent, Mark Davies. He was also unlucky, although the injuries to Stuart Holden and Lee Chung-Yong, as well as David Wheater, are not a good enough excuse to explain where we now find ourself.

His transfer dealings do not stand up to scrutiny. Holden is an example of how well he could do when he got it right, but it will be a cold day in hell before someone convinces me of the attributes of Darren Pratley. Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge can be held up as good loan deals, but Gael Kakuta and Tuncay can be a counter argument, before you get to Vladimir Weiss and Rodrigo Moreno. As for his sales, one only needs to look at Ali Al Habsi, head and shoulders above Jussi when the two played the whole of a season, albeit Al Habsi at Wigan. No one could have seen Ricardo Vaz Te coming, except maybe Big Sam, and Joey O’Brien’s renaissance is a miracle of modern medicine. However, Matt Taylor’s departure to Bolton South, when he had been Coyle’s number one choice the season before, was an aberration. Taylor may not have been first choice, but he was an alternative to the meanderings of Martin Petrov and could be relied upon to score one spectacular goal per season. The same could not be said of Robbie Blake, surprisingly signed in the first place and then given a contract extension when the most natural place for him would have been the retired home for very old footballers.

There are others. David N’Gog is a good worker but not a goalscorer and, for his price tag, is not a success. Tyrone Mears isn’t a Premier League defender and his signing was another old boy recruitment. The signing of Chris Eagles has been a success, but only this year. Ivan Klasnic scored goals, his raison d’etre, but his lack of application towards the end of last season either showed a lack of willingness or a lack of man management. Or both.

He also let himself down with team selection, this season fitting square pegs in round holes, with Mark Davies on the wing and Eagles on the wrong wing. Sam Ricketts, a better right back than left, has been on the bench whilst Mears continues to huff and puff his way to match fitness. Ricketts, it is assumed, has been blamed for letting some balls go over his head whilst playing in his secondary position. As for Zat Knight, he may have played well this season, but I can point to three goals that he had been solely responsible for. And I don’t mean at the right end. It says a lot that he has been pinpointed as our best player in the back four.

But it was his team selection, allied to his tactics, last season that let him down. He hung onto Paul Robinson too long and couldn’t see the value in playing Gretar Steinsson, a better player than Dedryck Boyata. For whatever reason, it seemed that whenever Fabrice Muamba had a good game, he was dropped to the bench. The selling of Gary Cahill left him a large hole but although it was obvious that Cahill had been carrying Knight, it took until mid February for Coyle to try a Ream-Wheater partnership, which solidified the centre of defence somewhat.

His continual selection of Kevin Davies, even though the captain himself said he wasn’t playing well, caused problems, as there were three similar players up front. The purchase of Marvin Sordell was thought to be an answer to these problems, but he was rarely played, the manager preferring to stick with SKD and one of N’Gog or Klasnic. Even when SKD started scoring, the manager persisted with one of the other two. And his has continued into this season, with the on loan Benik Afobe preferred to Sordell. So much for the most natural goalscorer at the club.

If you play SKD, then the natural thing to do is hit it long. This isn’t SKD’s fault and he has more facets to his game then just heading it on or holding it up. But there needs to be someone alongside him who can run with the ball and none of his other partners are able to do this. Playing 4-4-2 without Sordell is wrong headed. This season, not playing Sordell at all has proved to be as much as the captain has fallen even more foul of old Father Time.

There have been positives. Bolton finally got to Wembley, although the less said about the game itself the better. The youth policy seems to be bearing fruit and it is a real shame that Josh Vela has been injured this season, although he probably should have been blooded earlier. It says much for Coyle the man that he had so much backing, even as the club were getting relegated. But, as he said on that day nearly three years ago, you either move on or you get moved on.

And he has been moved on. There is, I sense, a genuine sadness that it has come to this. Owen Coyle was a journeyman footballer and only played for one English club. But it was this club that he played for. And people should remember that when sending threats to his son on social media. Time will soften what has happened, just like it has with Sammy Lee (although most will want someone in charge before our next game, if only to miss hearing Little Sam talking about positives). Owen Coyle will always be welcomed back to T’Reebok.

As long as he doesn’t win.


23 Replies to “Bolton Wanderers: Dissection”

  • “it will be a cold day in hell before someone convinces me of the attributes of Darren Pratley” – it’s cold today in Bury, does that count? I don’t have anything to back Pratley up, just seems like it might be the right day for it if someone can. Anyway. Seems like it’ll be one of Mick McCarthy or Alex McLeish, going on the current betting. I’m hoping it’s McCarthy. Also, the natural thing to do when SKD is playing is to hit it long – is it really? I never saw Okocha, Djorkaeff, Hierro or their ilk hitting long balls at him. A player who hits it long to SKD rather than passing to the grossly underexploited Mark Davies simply has “hoof it” as their default position and will only pass it if they’re desperate. I don’t see Mark Davies hoofing it either. Zat Knight hoofs it because he’s crap – Megson’s sort of player. Likewise Matt Mills, whose signing I still don’t understand. Goodbye, Owen. I will never forget 2010, or that goal in the 1995 play-off final.

  • Anyone staggered that the Sun think we will be trying to appoint Big Sam at the end of the season? Not while Garty is at the club surely? I can’t imagine Roy Keane would a popular appointment though

  • Sam will definitely not be coming; he is in a good position at South Bolton & as BotN said wile Gartside is there. Also agree Keane would not be massively welcomed. Instinct says McCarthy & as I have said before I would not have a problem with him.

  • Very good Article Mr X, sums Owen up perfickly I think. As for his replacement, Big Mick would be acceptable, as would Brown Phil, or for me another contender would be Big Keith “Hilly” Hill. Whoever we get, Teflon Don Phil must get it right this time or we’ll remain in the bleak hole of the Championship for years.

  • We need someone who is experience at getting teams out of this Division. McCarthey would be the best bet really. Even with his annoying voice.

    And someone mentioned Keith Hill? – He’s my mates Uncle lmao.

  • Read the news on here earlier and was immediately gutted, even tho i’ve been asking for it now for over a month…weird feeling. And Fred, how the hell did you know yesterday, are you really Betty the tea-lady????

  • Also, can’t understand the clamour for Phil Brown, apart from BSA ex-players have been fair to middling at best. He wouldn’t make my top 5 shortlist to be perfectly honest.

  • After pleading the case to remove Coyle for longer than I care to remember the day has finally arrived, albeit 12 – 18 months to late, I don’t have any sadness for Coyle, he got well paid for doing a job badly, my sadness is reserved for the mess he has left behind and the difficulties others now face trying to put the pieces back together. I will not speculate on who may get the appointment, I simply share every other fans hopes that the team can now turn the corner and improve their lot. Good article, many of the observations were spot on. I reserve my opinion on Gartside as I have no idea if he was personally reponsible for selecting the managers since Big Sam, if he was maybe Eddie Davies should take advise from other quarters with this decision. It makes a refreshing change writing a comment knowing I am not forcibly compelled to rant on about Coyle, I can now throw my anti depressant tablets in the bin – to rejoice, sing and dance, well for 2 weeks at least !!

  • If you watch the interview on Sky Sports, Coyle actually looks relieved. Of course he must be gutted and would not have walked away but he seemed like a man who’d had a massive weight lifted from him. Good luck, Owen. I know all of us want Premier League football again but I’d be happy with feeling excited about watching Bolton first and foremost. Whomever can bring that buzz back T’Reebok is OK by me… Solskjaer’s an intriguing one though, I must admit…

  • aussie mike- I know you don’t want to speculate on candidates, but who would you appoint? Would you go for a seasoned pro (McCarthy et al) or young blood?

  • Solskjaer is an interesting and he has moved to second favourite one but he turned Villa down. He would obviously be looking to dump us for a bigger club at the first chance he got. Keane would be a disaster.

  • I would quite like to see Phil Brown doing well as Bolton boss, his track record’s not great though (Hull giant killing phase aside) and I stick by Mick McCarthy being the sensible option. Having Big Sam back is a bit far fetched but if it was a possibility I wouldn’t bear him a grudge for his deaparture, in fact I’d welcome him with open arms.

    Whoever mentioned Billy Davies on Radio Manchester after the game needs tracking down and silencing before he gives the management any ideas.

  • Basically not Steve Kean or we will all go off and support other clubs. Mick Mac suits our needs and we suit his. Gotta be a quick done deal I reckon. ED and PG had Sunday and Monday to make a few calls. Solskjaer would be an interesting option but cant quite see it happening.

  • We have to remember what a punt Big Sam was when we took him on, and take a similar chance now. I feel a manager with a connection to the club is a must. Therefore Fernando Hierro for Bolton manager. Next choice Dean Holdsworth. Next choice Phil Brown. Next choice Jimmy Phillips.

  • to answer bwfc75, I am pretty sure those at senior level in football have insider knowledge on who the good managers are, equally there are other factors that apply, will the candidate support the policies pursued by that club, will the individual offer harmony or confrontation ? I am not convinced it all comes down to the interview on the day. tried and tested managers like McCarthy come with fixed methods and ideas that could steady a ship that has lost its compass, he may represent a low risk gamble ? but he may ask for guarantees on transfer funds ? Younger candidates like Solskjaer and the lad at MK Dons offer fresh ideas and greater enthusiasm, they may pose a much higher risk also, equally they may be happy to work with the squad already in place. Personally I think we need a manager who can identify talent and potential, always beliefed its better to have players with something to prove who want to make a name for themselves, they give you 120% every game. K. Davies and others of similar type at the end of their careers seem to go through the motions, I would put them out to pasture. tempted to go for a fresh manager – either of the 2 mentioned above or similar, Do you leave McCarthy on the settee ? , nice bloke, dead straight, kicks arse, would not be surprised if he is offered the job – there is only one objective – to get promotion from this league and he has a track record. ( then again so did Coyle !! )

  • no one has yet mentioned the tiny issue of candidates who would decline the job, regardless of anything else. It seems highly likely the appointee will use the period up to Christmas to test the existing players and look at replacements in the January transfer window, for those who don’t come up to scratch, suggesting they might have a large shopping list ! that alone should motivate our squad over the next 2 months. Anyway it would be interesting if the candidates have to indicate during the interview which new players they would be interested in bringing to the club and likely transfer costs, forewarned is forearmed for Gartside and Davies. Soskjaer as an example may put a list forward of young foreign lads who he would like to see follow him to our club. Its common in football to see a new manager bring players in they are acquainted with, re; Coyle brought Bake and Pratley here, enough said about that. I am quite certain Gartside has pencilled out his wish list already, conversations will have been taking place in recent weeks, yesterdays announcement was simply the conclusion

  • Think it’s a fair bet that a few chats have happened in the last couple of weeks and the decision pretty much taken last week. Final confirmation came at 4:45 on Saturday. OC knew it when that whistle went at The Den. Or, more precisely, when Henderson’s 2nd went in. ED and PG probably put the remuneration package on Sunday and put it to OC on Monday. Hence the delay in announcing it. All guess work of course…I am not Betty The Tea Lady! Rather suspect McCarthy is pretty much a done deal. I see no reason he would turn it down.

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