I owe Coyle a lot, admits Eagles after bitter return

Burnley midfielder is still grateful to former manager who received a hostile reception back at Turf Moor
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The Independent Football

Chris Eagles, the Burnley midfielder, has admitted he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Owen Coyle but it did not stop him having a good chuckle at his old manager's expense on Tuesday night.

From the moment a mischievous Carling Cup draw sent Bolton to the club he abandoned to join them in January, Coyle knew he was going to be in for a hot reception. Eagles was acutely aware of it too given how high emotions still run at the manner of Coyle's departure.

The fans at Turf Moor faithful did not let anyone down, jeering the Scot from the moment he emerged from the dressing rooms to his departure almost two hours later. That Burnley prevailed 1-0 thanks to Wade Elliott's first-half volley just put the gloss on a perfect night.

"I have never experienced all that anger towards one person before," said Eagles. "It was expected because there had been rumours around town. But when I actually heard the stick Owen was getting, it was quite funny.

"I was having a bit of banter with him at the side myself," he added, "but it was all good fun. Owen has done a lot for the club and for me personally. He brought me to the place and then had the faith to play me. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for him, so I will always have respect for him, just like I do with Sir Alex Ferguson [at his former club Manchester United], and I wish him all the best in the future."

Having disposed of one former manager, Eagles will now cross his fingers for a meeting with another, having left United for Burnley in 2008.

That dream almost came true in remarkable fashion during that first season with the Clarets, only for two Tottenham goals in the final couple of minutes in extra-time in the semi-finals to rob the club of a Carling Cup final appearance against the Red Devils at Wembley.

"That would have been perfect," admitted Eagles. "It would still be a good draw now because they are a special club to me. But our main aim is to get back up to the Premier League. That is what we have to concentrate on."

There was a point last month when it seemed Eagles would not be in a position to enjoy such nights. Rangers had a bid accepted for the 24-year-old Londoner, who headed north to Glasgow with Walter Smith believing he was going to make a rare signing.

The Scottish champions subsequently claimed Eagles' wage demands were far beyond what they could afford, despite their status in the Champions League. For his part, Eagles said the whole transfer "did not feel quite right".

He returned to Burnley, contacted operational director Brendan Flood and immediately agreed a two-year deal that includes a clause adding an extra season should the club get back into the Premier League.

"The decision to stay was not hard at all," he said. "It would have been harder to leave. That is why I didn't. It just didn't feel right. I can't explain it. My mum brought me up to play with a smile on my face. I would play for nothing but if I am not happy what is the point? Thankfully, the fans stuck with me. When the season started and there were all these rumours my head was all over the place.

"But I am settled now and need to thank [Burnley manager] Brian Laws for having enough faith in me to push Brendan Flood for my contract, so I could start again and prove what I could do."