Coyle aims to be more than a passing phase

The benefit to clubs of employing a former hero as manager is unquestionably overrated, though so many continue to do it. Leeds United in the Eighties, under a whole succession of players from the Don Revie era, achieved nothing until an outsider called Howard Wilkinson came in and made them champions of England again; at Tottenham, Ossie Ardiles and then Glenn Hoddle were welcomed back with rapture but soon had to be discarded.

The one thing such an appointment does, apart from winning kudos for the chairman as a popular one, is give the new man a little extra time before the inviolable law of results kicks in. The added factor in Owen Coyle's favour as he waves to the crowd before today's game at home to Arsenal is simply that he is not Gary Megson.

Coyle may have spent only two years of his 22-year playing career in England but he is able to reminisce about happy days at Bolton from 1993-95, which he did on Friday at some length. For those who believe in omens, an FA Cup giant-killing over this afternoon's opponents was one of the highlights: "It was in 1994 and we had a fantastic Cup run," said Coyle. "We were eight minutes from being knocked out in the first round by Gretna, who were in the Unibond League at the time. The only reason I tell that part of the story is because I scored two goals in the last eight minutes to beat them 3-2.

"We beat Lincoln, then Everton and then we played Arsenal, the holders. I was able to score late on in the game to make it 2-2 and we beat them 3-1 at Highbury in the replay. But both games were real footballing games, and so enjoyable." There are clues there not just to his status as a local hero but, in that last sentence, to the type of football he wants to play, elaborated upon as follows: "I believe that the best sight in football is the ball hitting the back of the net. Second to that I believe that one of the classic sights is a winger taking on a full-back and getting crosses in the box, because as a fan you automatically get out of your seat and think something exciting is going to happen. I believe you have to pass and move the ball and get your wide players on it."

It may not sound like the Bolton of recent vintage, knocking long passes towards a big, combative centre-forward, and Coyle acknowledges the transformation will not be instant. "You can't click your fingers and nothing happens overnight, [but] that's the way I want to play. I like to play the game at a decent pace, with the ball moving quickly and making one- against-one situations where you can excite people. To do that you have to pass and move that ball very quickly."

Rather like Arsenal, then; indeed, Burnley's drawn game against Arsène Wenger's swift pass-masters just before Christmas was one of his most enjoyable as a manager. "For me, he's the perfect ambassador and role model for building that type of team."

If remoulding a team's style takes time – a commodity few managers in a relegation position are blessed with – it is essential to have the support of the players. Impressive testimony is provided by the Icelandic full-back Gretar Steinsson, who says: "It's been a fantastic week. I came in this week feeling I was 16 or 17 and going for a trial. Everything is new, just a fantastic atmosphere, a positive thing. He really wants to be here and we have felt that. His energy is what it's all about – he wants to get this club forward. We have the battlers and powerhouses but we have the silky footballers too and can allow them to shine. I am sure his way of football will do that."

Coyle's departure from Turf Moor so soon after signing a four-year extension to his contract divided Burnley supporters into bitter idealists and mildly cynical pragmatists. Most were, naturally enough, in the former camp and regard his tears on walking away from the club with his assistants as being of the crocodile variety; a crocodile waiting to devour his former friends when they walk into the Reebok jungle on Tuesday week for what promises to be a tumultuous evening.

But first Arsenal, and a cat-and- mouse affair.

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders