Owen Coyle expects nothing less than some good old-fashioned abuse from the Burnley supporters tonight when he leads his Bolton Wanderers side out against his former club, and, in a perverse manner, he will see it as a badge of respect and entirely of his own doing.
The encounter is likely to be highly charged after Coyle left Burnley, the side he had guided back to the top flight for the first time in 33 years, for Bolton earlier this month, a decision that was met with dismay at Turf Moor.
"If I get a bit of stick then whatever the game brings, it brings," Coyle said yesterday. "I had just over two very special years at a football club I still think the world of and that will never leave me. Whatever happens [tonight] will never alter the feeling I have for the club. I accept that people are disappointed that I left but that's football.
"I was the one who asked the Burnley fans for that passion and desire to help us so I can't then, having asked for that passion, turn around and say you are not allowed to come and give me stick because you are frustrated or disappointed. That is just the territory – we know the nature of the beast we are involved in."
Coyle, a crowd favourite as a player at Bolton, is determined that any terrace chanting will not unsettle him. "It was a football decision and you have to get on with it," he added. "I am mentally strong and whatever comes my way I deal with it. I'm not one for sulking and being moody – I look to do the best with what I've got and that will always continue."
Since Coyle's protracted departure from Turf Moor – it took the two clubs three days to sort out the deal – there have been numerous suggestions that he only left for more money or was somehow abandoning ship at Burnley.
"I kept a dignified silence and waited," Coyle said yesterday, "as much as I was getting panned on websites and what have you, because I wanted to make sure Burnley football club got their compensation. So people can say what they want but I know I conducted myself in the right manner."
Coyle's protestations that he was still looking out for the best interests of Burnley as he left are likely to fall on deaf ears at the Reebok this evening. But then the chances are he will not be listening out too much either.Reuse content