A Serious Defence Of Bolton Wanderers' Owen Coyle

Propping up the Prem has left some disgruntled Bolton fans calling for the gaffer Owen Coyle's head. But the radio phone-in and Twitter numpties should be ignored.
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For the first time, I am writing a piece in a serious tone for ST. The football musings and match previews to date have had more than a hint of irreverence about them as that’s how I prefer to write. Life in general is too serious these days and I like to take a light-hearted view on the issues of the day, especially where football is concerned (and let’s be honest – it is ripe for a weekly piss-take). But this week is different. The beautiful game has further sullied itself to an even greater extent than it has done over the past decade or two (and God knows there’s been a general decline for some time now). What with petulant displays from a horrid man-child, more sex and drug scandals and good old ‘kiss and tell’ court battles, has the reputation of the game ever been lower? Those paragons of virtue amongst us who relish any opportunity to preach that the moral compass of the game, and those involved with it, is shot to pieces are having a field day right now. And they may have a point.

In addition, something closer to home has severely hacked me off this week. Following the loss at Arsenal last weekend, it appears that some Bolton fans have been calling for the dismissal of Owen Coyle. When I first heard these rumours I checked the calendar. It didn’t read April 1st. I looked outside as the door bell rang. It wasn’t Jeremy Beadle dressed as a copper grinning inanely at me (though quite how he’d grin inanely these days is beyond me). There was no indication that this was a wind-up – some of the locals are apparently restless and looking for a change of personnel. Quite frankly, they should hang their heads in shame. It’s incredulous that so-called fans are even contemplating this. Have they forgotten the complete lack of cohesion on the pitch during the ill-fated Sammy Lee reign? Have they forgotten the disgustingly atrocious football served up during Megson’s time in charge? Just what informs the opinions of these people? I haven’t seen or heard a great deal of the supposed criticism though I believe much of it has arrived via Twitter and radio phone-ins, which explains a lot. Not usually regarded as forums for lucid and well-reasoned debate, it is sad to say that this was expected to a degree. A poor run of form and bottom of the table heading toward October is far from ideal. But let’s consider the reasons for keeping Coyle in post (as if it should be debated anyway…):

His approach to the game:

Owen Columba Coyle (no – I haven’t made that up…) aims to play an attractive style of football. It doesn’t always pan out like that, but that’s his aim. And after a few years of paying to watch absolute dross, that’s fine by me. I’m not accepting the view that Sam Allardyce played nothing but long-ball football. It frustrated me when he went on the defensive at times when we’d grabbed a lead (during the first bloody quarter of a game at times) but players such as Djorkaeff, Okocha, Hierro and Anelka aren’t part of a master plan that revolves solely around kick-and-hoof tactics. Coyle wants to return to the relative success of the Allardyce days and he wants to do it in style. For that, he should be commended.

His signings:

Stuart Holden as an initial signing? Taking a relatively untried talent in Jack Wilshere and contributing greatly in helping him develop, in a short space of time, into one of the finest young English players in the land? Repeating the trick with Daniel Sturridge? Whatever follows, it’s hard to argue with that. I’ll admit that the jury is still out on some of his summer 2011 signings but it’s extremely harsh to form an opinion on them before a full season has passed.

The fixture list:

Quite simply, the fixture list smells worse than a tramp’s underpants (and crotchless underpants at that). It could be argued that, had we caught QPR at any time other than the opening day, we could well be without a single point right now. Some respite should have come against Norwich – that it didn’t is hugely disappointing  though it is rotten luck that we’ll have encountered Man United, Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea by the first weekend in October. Yes, they’d figure at some point prior to the New Year anyway, but a good start is of paramount importance in this league – the fixture list compilers put paid to any hope of such an occurrence this year.

Who to get in to replace him?

Though it pains me to do so, let’s suppose for one minute that the numpty minority get their way and Coyle is sacked. Who replaces him? Which luminary visionary takes the reins and propels the club to the higher echelons of the league, flirting on an alarmingly regular basis with Champions League qualification and Wembley cup finals? Carlo Ancelotti has expressed his desire to flirt with English Football once more. Surely he’ll jump at the chance? Failing that, Russian billionaire-backed fruit loops Anzhi Makhachkala have just dispensed with the services of Gadzhi Gadzhiyev. He’ll jump at the chance to buy a plush pad in the lakes and take a copter full of armed-guards into the war-torn wastelands of Bolton every other weekend? Or how about a return for the prodigal son – Gary Megson? He’s ripping up trees with Sheffield Wednesday and, having left us with dignity and pride intact (honest guv…), it would be like the second coming if the ginger Mourinho were to return…

Or how about the obvious choice?

Ignore the idiots and go along with the views of the vast majority of BWFC fans who, I’m sure, will not countenance such a ridiculous idea. Retain Owen Coyle, probably lose to Chelsea, start picking up points in subsequent games, be in a relatively acceptable position by New Year and forget this nonsensical debate ever had to take place? Yeah, that’s not a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all. Then the crows can head back to their pot noodles and find something worthwhile to whinge about, such as just how orange is that lass from Waterloo Road who is appearing on Strictly Come Dancing this year.

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