A Review Of Owen Coyle's Time At Bolton

  • October 09, 2012 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/f1814

Following Bolton's decision to axe Owen Coyle as manager, we take a look back at his near three-year reign in charge at the Reebok Stadium.

Coyle's BWFC Record
Games - 126, Wins - 42, Draws - 24, Defeats - 60

Given the task of succeeding Gary Megson in the Wanderers hotseat, Coyle was recruited from near-neighbours Burnley in January 2010, in what was deemed somewhat of a sideways move with the Turf Moor faithful.

Languishing in the bottom three of the Premier League, Coyle faced the daunting task of beginning his tenure as manager with back-to-back games against Arsenal. Wanderers would lose on both occasions, with the latter being a controversial 4-2 defeat at the Emirates Stadium - a game in which they had led 2-0.

An FA Cup win over Sheffield United followed, before Bolton picked up their first league victory under their new manager, as Lee Chung-Yong scored the only goal in a 1-0 success over Coyle's former club, Burnley.

Despite having limited time to bring in new faces, Coyle acted quickly to bring the likes of Vladimir Weiss, Stuart Holden and Jack Wilshere to the club, whilst also making Paul Robinson's loan move from West Bromwich Albion permanent.

After a poor start to the season, Wanderers were obviously struggling to get themselves back on track and would go seven games without a win, before a run of three wins in four helped move the club away from danger.

Bolton would end the season in 14th place, 9 points clear of the bottom three that they had occupied for much of the campaign, prior to Coyle's arrival.

Six players would move to the Reebok that summer, with Martin Petrov, Robbie Blake, Marcos Alonso and Tom Eaves joining the club, while Rodrigo Moreno joined on a season-long loan from Benfica and Ivan Klasnic made his loan move permanent.

In contrast to the previous campaign, Wanderers would make a superb start in 2010/11, losing just twice in their opening 15 games and finding themselves occupying 5th place in the Premier League.

High scoring victories over Tottenham Hotspur, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Newcastle United, coupled with draws against Everton and Blackpool saw Coyle named Premier League Manager of the Month award in November 2010. It was from that point on, however, that things began to turn.

Bolton would go on to lose three of their five games in December, all of which were away from home. That started a miserable run on the road for the Trotters, who picked up just one point from their remaining 12 away trips - a 1-1 draw against 10-man Newcastle United at St James' Park.

With just two wins in nine heading out of January, Coyle opted to sign David Wheater from Middlesbrough, while Daniel Sturridge also joined the club on loan from Chelsea. This was in the midst of a difficult period for the club, who were mourning the death of club legend Nat Lofthouse, who had sadly passed away at the age of 85.

Things would improve on the field in the weeks that followed, with Sturridge scoring in his first four games for the club and away wins at Wigan Athletic, Fulham and Birmingham City taking the club into the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 2000.

In mid-March, Wanderers found themselves in sixth place in the Premier League and in with a genuine shot of playing UEFA Europa League football the following season.

On March 19, things would go horribly wrong for the club, in such a way that many believe they never recovered. Stuart Holden was the victim of a horror challenge from Manchester United's Jonny Evans, which forced the United States international off the field with a serious knee injury that has restricted him to just one appearance in 18 months since that day.

After Matt Taylor had missed a glorious chance to win the game for Bolton, Dimitar Berbatov capitalised on a fumble from Jussi Jaaskelainen to give ten-man United a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford.

Defeat against Birmingham followed, before a 3-0 triumph over West Ham United saw Wanderers travel to Wembley Stadium the following weekend in high spirits ahead of their FA Cup semi-final showdown against Stoke City.

After weeks of build-up, Bolton's dream of reaching their first FA Cup final since 1958 was shattered. Goals from Matthew Etherington, Robert Huth and Kenwyne Jones put the Potters into a resounding 3-0 lead within the opening half hour and a second half double from Jonathan Walters completed the rout. The 5-0 scoreline was and still is the biggest post-war winning margin in the last four of the competition.

Bolton failed to recover from their Wembley humiliation and would lose their final five games of the season, ending the campaign in a disappointing 14th place, when they had spent the majority of the year inside the top eight.

Despite that disappointing end to the season, Coyle wanted to make his mark on the club and brought eight new faces to the club in the summer of 2011. Darren Pratley, Nigel Reo-Coker, Chris Eagles, Tyrone Mears and David Ngog all joined the club, with Tuncay Sanli, Dedryck Boyata and Gael Kakuta joining on loan.

In contrast to the superb start in 2010/11, Wanderers would make an awful start to the 2011/12 campaign and picked up just nine points from their opening 16 games.

A 4-0 win at newly-promoted Queens Park Rangers saw them top the table on the opening day, but a horrendous run of fixtures against many of the country's top sides brought heavy and morale-squashing defeats. It was hoped Bolton could soften the blow with home games against Norwich City and Sunderland, but Wanderers would lose both of those games as confidence appeared to hit rock-bottom.

Bolton would get a measure of revenge for their FA Cup humiliation by beating Stoke 5-0 in November's Premier League meeting, but they would lose their next five games and had it not been for victory at Blackburn, they would have spent Christmas bottom of the table.

A change of formation brought victories over Everton and Liverpool in January, while Wanderers would also advance into the last 16 of the FA Cup with wins over Macclesfield Town and Swansea City.

Tim Ream and Marvin Sordell were brought in from Red Bull New York and Watford, respectively, while Ryo Miyaichi hoped to follow in the footsteps of Jack Wilshere and Daniel Sturridge by joining the club on loan until the end of the campaign.

An FA Cup win at Millwall was as good as it got for Bolton in February, but three wins in four league outings in March would give Wanderers hope of survival as they moved out of the bottom three for the first time in months, helping Coyle on his way to the Premier League Manager of the Month award.

The main talking point at that time, however, was Fabrice Muamba after he collapsed on the field during an FA Cup quarter-final tie at Tottenham Hotspur. The Wanderers midfielder had suffered a cardiac arrest but, thankfully, made a complete recovery, despite making the decision to retire from professional football in the summer.

The professionalism and humanity of Coyle, Phil Gartside, Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur was there for all to see during that difficult time and is something that will live long in the memory of everybody connected to both clubs.

Back on the field, Bolton failed to recover from the psychological blow that Muamba's situation had given them. Without their regular holding midfielder, they struggled in the closing weeks of the campaign and after a 2-2 draw with Stoke City on the final day of the season, they were relegated from the top-flight of English football after an 11-year stay.

Following relegation, as many as 15 senior players would leave the Reebok Stadium, prompting Coyle to bring Keith Andrews, Matt Mills and Andy Lonergan to the club. Benik Afobe and Jay Spearing would join on loan, along with Stephen Warnock, who would also make a temporary switch in September.

Optimism was high going into the opening day clash at Coyle's former club Burnley, but a poor performance resulted in a 2-0 defeat and an embarrassing return to the manager's former club.

Two wins, two draws and a defeat were to come from the club's opening five home games, but a run of just one win from five away games and a Capital One Cup exit against League One Crawley Town piled the pressure on the Wanderers boss and, following Saturday's 2-1 loss at Millwall, Owen Coyle has been sacked as manager of Bolton Wanderers Football Club.

The attention now turns to chairman Phil Gartside, who has placed Jimmy Phillips and Sammy Lee in temporary charge of first-team affairs until a new manager is hired.

Who do you think should be Bolton's next manager? Take a look at the names in contention for the job.

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
7 Accrington Stanley 9 13
8 AFC Wimbledon 9 12
9 Bolton Wanderers 9 12
10 Portsmouth 9 12
11 Sheffield Wednesday 8 12
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