Bolton should aim higher than mere survival, urges Coyle

No celebrations for manager after rivals' relegation confirms Premier League status
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The Independent Football

Owen Coyle was in no mood to over-celebrate the confirmation of Bolton's survival last weekend and believes the club must aim higher.

Wanderers' Premier League status was secured for another year on Sunday when Burnley, whom Coyle left to take over at the Reebok Stadium in January, were relegated after a 4-0 defeat by Liverpool. It was a case of mission accomplished for the Bolton manager, who inherited a team lying in 18th place when he succeeded Gary Megson as manager.

But despite keeping the club up, Coyle – who is teetotal – revealed that he had turned down the offer of champagne to celebrate, primarily because he feels Wanderers should be thinking bigger. "Somebody mentioned about champagne, but for me, coming in as manager with us in the bottom three, it was a good achievement that we stayed up but I don't want people to be happy just to be in the league," Coyle said. "Just staying in the league, I don't think you should be sipping champagne – not for me, anyway. My aspirations are higher than that, so I declined the offer.

"We want to be as high up the league as possible and we have to start the new season with that mindset. That is not saying that it will come to fruition, but I certainly don't want to be starting the season thinking as long as we stay out of the bottom three, it's job done."

Having seen his current side throw away a two-goal lead against Portsmouth on Saturday and draw 2-2, Coyle admits he was left with a mixture of emotions as Bolton's survival was ensured by his old team's relegation a day later but insists there was no sense of vindication for his decision to switch clubs. "It is not about vindicating the move. That has got nothing to do with it – the decision was just the decision, it wasn't right, wrong or indifferent," Coyle said. "But I think about [Burnley] football club every day and the people there. There is no doubt that I am saddened by it because I wanted the football club to stay in the Premier League."

Since leaving Turf Moor, Coyle has been linked with several Burnley players, including striker Steven Fletcher and midfielder Chris Eagles, but the manager, who has indicated he would like to make some signings before the start of the World Cup in June, said he had made no enquiries. "It's all speculation and I haven't spoken to any club or any player," Coyle said, adding: "I did in January, but not to any Burnley players."

With regard to his present squad, Coyle will not stand in Gary Cahill's way if a big club comes in with a bid for the defender this summer. Cahill has won many admirers since moving to Wanderers from Aston Villa in 2008 and is in the running for a place in Fabio Capello's England squad for the World Cup.

Coyle is aware that it may become increasingly difficult to hang on to Cahill, but insists he would never impede the progression of a player's career. "I have always said, regardless of what club I am at, that if there comes a time when any player outgrows the football club, I won't be the person to stand in their way," Coyle said.

"I said it to my Burnley lads when I was there – if there is something better for them out there, then they would go and blossom. That will be the same with Gary Cahill.

"I have got everything crossed that Gary gets to the World Cup because if he does he will be terrific, if he is allowed the opportunity. And if that means that he is elevated to a position where they are all going to clamour for him, then good luck for Gary Cahill."

Another player who could feature in South Africa is the United States midfielder Stuart Holden, who had targeted Bolton's game against Tottenham tomorrow for a return to action after two months out with a fractured fibula. Coyle said. "He has trained this week and has trained very well at a high standard, but what we have to make sure is that we don't risk the chance we could set him back."