Vital Latics member Pete Reece, aka Noel Wards Leg, adds to the debate on Owen Coyle
Over to you Pete:
There has been such an air of positivity around Wigan Athletic for a long time now, an atmosphere that even relegation and the loss of our beloved Roberto has been unable to shift. So what is it about the appointment of Owen Coyle that has caused so many of our fans to express such dissatisfaction, annoyance and even anger?
It’s not that the appointment can have come as such a surprise. It was widely publicised that he was a front-runner and in the last few days of the saga, the word was that he was into the last two. So if the appointment was not completely unexpected what are the protests about?
If it’s possible to summarise them, it seems that a number of those who object are simply hard-core anti-Bolton supporters and do not want him on that basis – a slightly perverse argument given that one of our more popular players over the past few years came directly from Bolton and not a whimper of complaint was expressed.
Then there are those fans who feel that he must be a poor choice because he’s out of a job and we have got him for free. If this is to suggest that no club should ever employ someone who’s been sacked then Nottingham Forest would never have employed Brian Clough nor Bayern Munich the coach who has just won them the treble, Jupp Heynckes. That there are better managers than Owen Coyle currently in work is perhaps not in question. Would they however leave their current employer to come to Wigan Athletic and would it be a sensible use of our resources to pay compensation for them when we have just taken a £20m drop in income?
If there are adequate managers available for free then clearly it is an option to go for one of them rather than pay compensation for someone else. Does paying compensation for Gus Poyet or whoever else people have in mind guarantee we get a better manager? The £1.5m trousered for Roberto if used for compensation is then unavailable for players’ wages. It’s that simple.
However, the largest group of dissidents simply seem to be of the opinion that Owen Coyle is not a good enough manager for Wigan Athletic, an opinion which has the greatest scope for discussion. Let’s start with what the majority of people seemed to be looking for in a manager: the ability to get us promoted; a continuation of the passing football (with perhaps a stronger defence) we have got used to over the last four years; a desire to continue building the club up from the bottom with a greater emphasis on developing our own players; and preferably someone who can maintain the positive atmosphere and good relationships with supporters that Roberto engendered.
So how does Owen Coyle measure up to those criteria? He certainly has experience of promotion having taken Burnley to the Premier League for the first time in decades in 2009. Before that, he also took St Johnstone very close to promotion to the SPL and has enjoyed good cup runs at all the clubs he has managed. It certainly seems he ticks that box.
Is he such a master of the passing game though as Roberto or someone like Gus Poyet? Many people have suggested that Bolton’s long ball style was partly his doing and have quoted statistics to back it up. Certainly he doesn’t believe that is his style and his Burnley team were lauded for the quality of their attacking play. He says that ‘it’s important that you can win games with a pleasing style, passing and moving the ball, which all my teams have always done.
‘I want to be building the ball from the back, passing through midfield to wide areas and to strikers and passing and moving.
‘The best sight in football is the ball hitting the back of the net. Second to that I love wide players, I love wingers taking on full-backs. I think you can have a pleasing style which is easy on the eye and entertaining and equally a style that can win you games.’
It may not turn out to be exactly the style of Roberto but that would never be the case whoever were appointed. Having said that, it’s difficult to imagine a Kevin Davies scenario at the DW Stadium next season.
Coyle also talks about his reputation with young players. ‘It gives you great satisfaction when you see young players develop and eventually fulfil their potential. The word ‘coach’ means to encourage them and to make them better.
‘I’ve been very fortunate to work with an array of young talent and that’s something that I pride myself on. I love working with young players ?. I’ve never paid a transfer fee for a player over 24 years of age.’
Again, it does not seem that Latics believers have anything to fear on that score and that we can continue to witness the emergence of new talent from our academy.
And as for a positive attitude and building relationships with the fans, we may just have got more of the same because ‘taking the positives’ from defeats is something our old and new managers have in common and something that will continue to encourage and infuriate in equal measure. Coyle comes across well in the media and is generally recognised as a nice guy who gets on well with everyone. Sound familiar?
Do we really want any more than that? Or does it still just rankle that his last job ended in failure? If he was really so good at Burnley (and there he was very much flavour of the month in the same way that many of the people that were linked with the Latics job are now), then what went so wrong?
Of course, we weren’t at the interview to hear him explain it but we do know that he had bad injuries to key players and, as we know, a long casualty list has done for many a team. Perhaps more than anything, Bolton were a team in transition. After the successful but long ball days of Sam Allardyce and the dark days of Gary Megson, Owen Coyle was there to change things and adopt a more attractive style. As we know from our experiences at Wigan, these things can take time. Under Roberto, Latics perhaps completed this transition before the bad luck hit. For Bolton, maybe it came before Coyle had had chance to cement in his changes.
Do I think he’s the messiah? No. But, despite misgivings about the stories of poor quality training and little regard paid to sports science at Bolton, I do think he may be successful. At the moment we need a manager for the Championship and there aren’t that many available who have actually done what we need him to do. Win promotion.
Noel Wards Leg