The appointment of Gary Megson at Bolton never really sat comfortably with the Reebok faithful. He was seen by many as a poor man’s Sam Allardyce and was always going to face the sack eventually, it was simply a question of when. Sammy Lee was almost the polar opposite in terms of response and reputation - Little Sam was exactly the man that the Trotter’s fans wanted to steer the ship after Big Sam jumped overboard and swam to Tyneside (to a doomed and sinking vessel). It was just unfortunate that he lacked the tactical nous to ever last beyond that honeymoon period.
Now that Megson has gone, Phil Gartside is left to make another huge decision. It seems to me that he is set to make the best one since tempting Allardyce from Meadow Lane in 1999, and possibly even one that usurps that. Allardyce took Bolton to the dizzy heights of the Premiership, followed by a League Cup final, a sixth placed league position equal on points with the soon-to-be Champions League winners Liverpool and the knockout rounds of the UEFA cup. However, if, as is looking increasingly likely, Gartside gets his man and Owen Columba Coyle does come to Bolton Wanderers, this will be a massive coup.
Coyle rejected Celtic in the summer, citing that the Burnley “adventure” was still his to build. However, recent comments about the size of his budget lead us to believe that he is perhaps ready for a challenge which has the potential to reap greater rewards than survival, one that he believes Bolton can offer. And, if Bolton is his home by next week, he will be a wonderful acquisition for the club, the chairman, the fans and the town. Owen Coyle knows how to run a club like Bolton - a tight budget but with some room for manoeuvre. He will be popular with the fans as he tends to play expansive football, knows the importance of creating a fortress and most importantly, he was an incredibly popular player with the Trotters in the early 90s - he even scored the first goal in Bolton‘s famous 1995 First Division play-off Final comeback. Finally, as Burnley, a north-west town not dissimilar in size or stature to Bolton, can testify, he is a likeable man who’s footballing philosophy is capable of bringing a community together.
Phil McNulty has written a great blog on this subject, but for my money he has concentrated too much on what a strange decision this would be from Coyle. I disagree- the Burnley boss can be confident enough in his future as he has the potential to be one of the League’s top managers, to take a small step to Bolton rather than waiting for a giant leap to a “big club”. He is widely respected and can rest assured that many chairmen will wish that he had been available to them later in the year, when the inevitable managerial merry-go-round continues.