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Sad and baffled to see Coyle go

Posted on 5 January 2010 | 4:01pm

I have done a longish piece on Owen Coyle’s departure for AOL’s Football Fanhouse on Here are a few extracts for those who don’t really care as much as I and – judging from the phone-ins and message boards – many others do.

‘I cannot say I am surprised he has gone. As I said on Saturday, the bookies rarely get the big managerial calls wrong, not 5-2 odds on, take no more bets wrong at any rate. The minute Coyle became the runaway favourite, you sensed it was only a matter of time. There was also the odd business of him not facing the media after the match on Saturday.

… So though I am not surprised that he’s going, I am surprised that he wants to.

… England cricketer Jimmy Anderson summed it up rather well in an incredulous sounding tweet from South Africa. ‘Leaving Burnley for Bolton?’ It is not just Burnley people like Jimmy who will be asking that.

… Yes, it is a bigger club. But not that much bigger, which is why a lot of football people are seeing it as a sideways move.

… It is true that Coyle did a lot for Burnley. But Burnley did a lot for Coyle. And I hope they hang tough on the compensation package, someone seemingly having jumped the gun in claiming it had been agreed before last night’s meeting.

… If he had stayed at Burnley, and we had gone down despite all his efforts, his reputation would still have been strong and he would still have been in the running for bigger jobs. But if he fails to keep Bolton up, it will be a reputational blow. And if he cements them as a mid-table Premier League club, he is in reputational limbo.

… The reason people feel so disappointed today is precisely because he seemed like a cut above the average football manager. He seemed to get just how much this club meant to the town.

… The adventure is still on, and the memories are still there. But it is very sad that someone who was so key to it has disappeared down the road.

…. Meanwhile, Bolton v Burnley at the Reebok two weeks from today could be one of the hottest games of a season already packed with them.

  • Ollie

    Have to agree Alastair, I’m a Man Utd fan so could be considered to have no idea about football, but I can’t fathom Coyle’s decision. It’s not like he’s going to get significantly more money to spend at Bolton, and whatever happened over the course of the season he would have remained a Burnley legend (within reason of course).

    It’s a sad day, I thought he was worth a bit more than this…

  • John Harper

    I see nice Jack’s Straw’s son has sent a gloating message to you on Twitter. I’m not Bolton, Burnley or Blackburn, but as a big football fan – Aston Villa – this feels all wrong. If he had left for a really big club, fine, but not Bolton. I agree with your line that the club did a lot for him too, in that he was a bit of an unknown quantity. I hope the players stay and fight harder than ever.

  • Graham Marsh

    Fans are loyal to clubs. Players and managers are loyal to themselves. What makes you think it should be any different? Enjoy the Reebok!

  • Martin

    Understand your disappointment Alastair. But Coyle spent a number of succesful years as a player at Bolton, so there is a tug on the heart strings there.

    Re: the Celtic job. The rumour in Glasgow about the Celtic job has two parts to it. Firstly, that Coyle’s wife wasn’t keen on the family being exposed to the sectarian elements of Scottish life, that comes with being involved in the old firm (see the guff that Neil Lennon has had to put up with).

    Secondly, that the Celtic board weren’t offering a significant enough budget to overhaul the team. Clearly, the first point doesn’t apply to the Bolton job and I’d have to imagine that the second point fits too.

  • olli issakainen

    Well, I guess I must also post a short comment on this one.
    It now seems that Bolton have sealed the deal! Thanks to Owen Coyle and good luck. He is going to need it! He gave up the safest seat in football for a job from which he will possibly be sacked after nine games without a win (or failing to win away from home).
    I guess Bolton have more debt than Britain! If the lads on Clarets Mad messageboard are to believed (and why would not we believe them), Bolton also pay 10% interest on some of their loans. What will happen if they are relegated?
    We got promoted because of Brendan Flood´s money. Owen Coyle, of course, played his part. But SC was also clever with money. What could he have achieved with &3m+?
    Did Coyle leave because he could not buy Nugent? Well, we need a big, powerful forward who can score regularly at this level. Nugent is OK, but does not fit the bill.
    If someone is not loyal to that great footballing force called Burnley FC, I am happy to see him go. No matter what his name is.

    Ps. Will it be Ian Holloway, Mike Phelan, Steve Davis or Carla from Corrie in charge v. Stoke? Well, there is plenty of fish in the sea.

  • Steve Marsh

    Totally agree with your comments. Thought he was above this,seemed to say all the right things but just goes to show how wrong you can be.
    How will he reconcile his style of playing football on the deck with Bolton’s long tradition of route one which put paid to Sammy Lee when he tried to change it.
    Anyway onwards and hopefully upwards-this might spark the players to continue to prove everyone wrong.
    Up the Clarets!

  • Ted Keene

    Why are you surprised Owen Coyle has gone? Honesty, loyalty and honour are words you cannot associate with professional footballers, club owners or managers. All are mercenaries. The words to associate with these people are treachery, cheats, divers, conmen and thieves. We fans are always the victims and always have been.

  • Wyrdtimes

    English club Football is shite these days.

    Old fashioned concepts such as loyalty are for the fans only.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if they appointed an English manager? Preferably a local.

  • Ian Eastwood

    I have not blogged on this or any other site for a while due to some issues. But this departure has driven me to comment. You may remember from previous blogs I have been a lifelong Burnley fan for the best part of fifty years, but never have I been so disappointed and angered at this fiasco. Burnley took all the risk in appointing OC as manager of BFC. An unproven manager from one of Scotland’s lesser clubs they backed him as best they could bearing in mind the debt they were carrying. We were not in a direr position when we parted company with Steve Cotterill and SC made many of the signing that got us to the premiership and still perform well on a weekly basis.
    OC came and undoubtedly turned a fair championship team into a premiership team with good team motivation on a limited budget, all made aware to him at the time of appointment.
    Getting to the premiership brings its rewards but also brings commitments and I believe wisely BFC cleared their debts and money for transfers in this January window limited. This fact seems to have been the major issue in OC being tempted by Bolton.
    I have no doubt that a debt free Burnley would have made major funds available in the summer if and that’s a big if we survive in this division, but that seems to be too long for Mr Coyle to wait.
    I will be grateful to OC for helping the team get to the premiership but find this move on only baffling in terms of why for Bolton, but unforgivable in terms of disloyalty and the quick buck.
    A couple of questions I would like to know the answer to.
    Was OC Tapped up after the Boxing Day game?
    Has he been offered a large bonus to keep Bolton up?
    For me lots of things I found endearing about OC have been betrayed including trust , integrity, loyalty, commitment to the club that gave him the chance to achieve his goals but most of all the fans and players that he made these commitments to on many occasion but where not worth the breath he used to make them.
    This OC is a move I believe you will live to regret Burnley FC is bigger than you or anyone before or yet to come. If Bolton go down and Burnley stay up, the saying he who laughs last laughs loudest will be heard across Burnley for many a long day.

  • Alan Quinn

    Ally, your honeymoon is over welcome to the Premier League.
    I couldn’t understand Coyle leaving for Bolton either but money talks and players, managers, agents and owners are all mercenaries. The FA have let the game become whored to big money but the day of reckoning may be near.

    Manchester United are now reeling under the strains of the Glazer debt mountain, Liverpool are in the same boat, Portsmouth are nearly bankrupt.
    The PL business model lets any fraudster, dictator, gangster or racketeer take over football clubs as long as they “seem to have money”. The FA’s fit and proper person check is a joke.
    The PL business model lets clubs balance sheets pay from 50% up to 80% in wages, we then have the parasitic agents earning millions in organising transfers. In any other field it wouldn’t be tolerated (maybe banks excepted).

    Burnley may survive this season but you’ll be down next year with Hull and Pompey, but maybe that’s no bad thing. If the Clarets can exist and not be in danger of going broke that’s an acheivement, ask fans of Notts County.

    Myself I stopped going to Old Trafford in 2005 and I doubt I’ll ever go there again. I now watch non league and I’m happy doing so.
    My club is fan owned and a co-op, when all clubs operate that way then the game will have regained it’s sanity.

  • Alex Manchester

    On the face of it, with all the information available to the public, it looks like a bad move. As has been said, if he’d stayed the course to the end of the season, he would have been far better off in the long term with regards to reputation and job offers.

    Burnley will do well to stay up this year given the disruption this will cause.

  • Nick


    Burnley have struggled in recent weeks, and realistically need to double their 19 point haul to stay up. The only factor that could possibly have influenced Coyle’s decision was being told by the Burnley chairman that you don’t have a lot of money to spend in January. I also read today that you have a £15k a week salary cap, very sensible, but not conducive in this era to luring quality players to Turf Moor.

  • scriberpunk

    Why Owen, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for Bolton?

  • s chapman

    The final curtain for GB and Labour…what madness by Hoon and Hewitt….but come on take the plunge get a new leader and stop the bloodbath at the Election

  • Dzijovic Rasa

    Can’t understand all the confusion and disbelief about Coyle wanting to leave.
    Far from a sideways step, Bolton are a significant step up from burnley.
    In fact any club in the Premier League (and the top 6 or 7 in The Championship) would represent a step up from burnley.
    4 months of being in the Premier League does not mean burnley are to be regarded as a Premier club.
    In the same way that leading a great country does not make you a great leader. (witness Tony Blair).

  • Simon Gittins

    It’s ironic isn’t it, of the two big passions in your life one is led by an incompetent fool, the other by soemone who appears to be quite talented at what he does.
    Unfotunately for you it looks like Coyle is off to Bolton and Gormless Gordon is there to stay (at least until May).

  • Jim Heath

    I’m disappointed for you Alastair and Burnley fans by Coyle’s strange decision. For all intents and purpose Coyle was Burnley and without him I think you are going to be faced with a mighty struggle (it was always going to be tough enough anyway). I rate Bolton as one of the worst teams in the division who have relied on an anti-football strategy to survive (very reminiscent of the old Wimbledon), so is Coyle going to change this culture? I just think they are just as likely to be relegated as Wolves, West Ham, Portsmouth, Burnley, Hull and Wigan. As people have quite rightly pointed out if that happens Coyle’s reputation is going to be tarnished, unlike if he stayed with Burnley and the same fate happened. It smacks of certain similarities to Mark McGhee in the 90’s when he joined Wolves after creating a great team at Reading, briefly taking over at Leicester and then almost immediately jumping ship to a more lucrative offer at Molineux. That move destroyed a very promising managerial career. It certainly adds up to a tasty run in for a survival scrap and will be more interesting if Portsmouth go into administration / liquidation (which they should be). It’s a sham that clubs like Burnley and Wolves who maintain a certain financial equilibrium suffer while those carrying massive debt (including Bolton) are in a position to seemingly prosper. Strange times we live in.

  • big ned

    when bolton come calling tinpot clubs in tinpot towns crumble.end ov.ha ha