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Premier League

Andre Villas-Boas would have succeeded at Chelsea, says Owen Coyle


Owen Coyle is certain Chelsea would have prospered if they had allowed old friend Andre Villas-Boas to finish the job he started at Stamford Bridge.

The pair have been firm friends since they did their coaching badges together and Coyle spoke to Villas-Boas on Sunday as news of his dismissal by Chelsea became public.

Coyle described Villas-Boas as being disappointed "but not shocked" at the decision, which followed a particularly poor sequence of results.

However, despite being asked to step into such a pressurised role at just 34 years of age, Coyle insists the former Porto coach had already proved he was up to the task.

And, whilst he might have had difficulties getting a number of the Blues' senior stars to buy into his ideas, Coyle feels Villas-Boas would have eventually proved Roman Abramovich had been correct to hire him in the first place.

"I spoke to Andre briefly on Sunday after the news had broken," said the Bolton boss.

"I won't say he was shocked because he has worked at Chelsea before and knows how it works. But he was disappointed.

"I have no doubt if he was given the time to see it through, Chelsea would have reaped the rewards and been stronger for many years to come.

"The job he did at Porto was there for everyone to see. But people don't realise what he did at Academica.

"He took a huge risk leaving Inter Milan for a club that was bottom of the league. But he had belief in his own abilities, saved them from relegation and went to the semi-finals of the cup.

"That was an unbelievable achievement for a young man.

"Chelsea are looking for trophies, who is to say they wouldn't have won one if they had persevered with him?"

That Chelsea have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals this week and are now England's only representatives in the Champions League - even though they face an uphill battle to overturn Napoli's first leg advantage next week - shows Villas-Boas must have been doing something right.

And Coyle is convinced he will prove his worth again elsewhere.

"Andre is an outstanding manager and an outstanding man, which is more important in the big scheme of things," he said.

"He will bounce back.

"We all come into this job with our eyes open, as Andre did. He knew the risks were huge, but so are the rewards.

"He will bounce back bigger and stronger and better for the experience.

"You have to go through these circumstances to become better."

Abramovich's trigger-happy approach contrasts sharply with the relative stability at Bolton, where Coyle's position is currently safe despite the Trotters spending most of the season deep in relegation trouble.

Saturday's crucial home encounter with QPR offers a way out, with even Coyle describing it as a six-pointer in a depressing campaign.

"If people are giving me stick, all I would say is that nobody puts me under any more pressure than I do myself," he said.

"I don't take the job lightly. As much as I put a brave face on things, deep down I am really hurting when we lose.

"I love this football club and of course there will be frustration from fans. But they know what we are trying to put in place.

"This was always going to be a season of transition because of the squad we inherited and the injury situation we had.

"It is not rocket science to understand why we have had such a slow start. But we are not getting too low because we know what is at the end of the tunnel.

"We have the vision. Now we have to achieve it in the last 11 games."