How is Owen Coyle still the Bolton manager?

October 2, 2012 in Championship

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It’s October. It’s that time of year where the teams relegated from the Premier League stop being referred to as such, and instead, just get called “Championship teams”. The merry-go-round of players is finished, the first games against new opposition are out of the way and the gritty business of challenging for promotion has very much started. Wolves are starting to find their feet under Stale Solbakken, Blackburn are sitting 4th even after starting the season with Steve Kean, yet Bolton sit 18th with just 10 points from their opening eight games. Bolton lost at home to Crystal Palace this weekend and have been far from convincing promotion candidates so far this season, yet somehow not only does Owen Coyle keep his job, but no one seems to be writing that he should lose his job!

Coyle came to Bolton on the back of a growing reputation from Burnley in 2010, and after taking Bolton to an FA Cup semi-final and slightly high league position for about two weeks, has seemingly been dining out on this “reputation” ever since. Relegation last year has been repeated attributed to the loss of four key players from the season previous. Lack of goals was a major problem last season due to the loss of Johan Elmander and the on-loan Daniel Sturridge, and season-long injuries to Stuart Holden and Chung Yong-Lee clearly took a massive toll on the team performance. However, it’s hard to believe that someone with the apparent ability of Coyle couldn’t have kept a decent squad in the league. Last season, in came David Ngog from Liverpool for only £3m. It looked like a great deal but Ngog clearly suffers from “looked decent cos he was in a decent team” syndrome.

With a clearly decent enough side to stay up, Bolton chairman Phil Gartside could’ve easily been forgiven for sacking Coyle in the summer, but he stayed and so did the majority of the Bolton players. Starting the season as title favourites, the team have so far flattered to deceive and the fans have their very clear opinions as to where the blame lies. A quick scan of a Bolton fan forum shows you exactly what the fans think. They think Coyle believes his own hype, and to be honest, it seems everyone else does. Coyle’s accomplishments with Bolton are unimpressive. He has taken them down, and right now, they don’t look like mounting a promotion charge. He has an aging squad dotted with bits of raw yet inconsistent talent, and should they stay down this season, a big rebuilding could be imminent which in turn could lead to a good few season in the second tier.

Gartside is well known for being one of the football world’s more lenient chairmen - he kept Megson on for ages, remember - but he may be forced to make a brave move soon. There are a number of young, hungry, very talented managers who would jump at the chance of taking a club like Bolton on. The knives are out for Coyle amongst the fans but not in the press. Is everyone secretly waiting for Coyle to turn into some kind of management superhero or something? Face it, he made some bad signings and took his team down and the trajectory has continued. If Bolton continue to struggle, I can’t wait to read this exact same article written again by a “journalist”.