YESTERDAY marked an anniversary which Owen Coyle would rather forget. It was a year to the day since he left Wigan Athletic after just six unhappy months as manager.
Twelve months later, the 48-year-old is still awaiting his next opportunity in a technical area but insists he holds no fears about becoming regarded as yesterday’s man.
Coyle earned widespread plaudits for his work at St Johnstone and Burnley but has subsequently failed to achieve similar success at Bolton and Wigan.
He remains insistent, however, that his CV stands up to close scrutiny and regards his fractious relationship with outspoken chairman Dave Whelan as the biggest factor in his downfall at Wigan.
“Football has been very kind to me so I don’t need to take the first thing that comes my way,” said Coyle. “It’s important that I take the right job, and by that I mean working with the right people. I don’t have any regrets as such, but I shouldn’t have taken the Wigan job when I did.
“I didn’t get on with the chairman from day one, truth be told, so I never actually signed my contract when I went there. Having had that experience, what’s important now is that I get the feeling I’ll be working with good people again.
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“I’ve turned four or five things down in the past four or five months already. That’s not a snobbery thing – I just have to get the right feeling from the right person. When that comes along I’ll gladly take a job. It’s killing me every day not being involved as it’s what I love doing. I love being out working with young players and making them better. I just want to get an affinity with someone and a feeling that I could really work with them.
“I’ve not got any issue with being forgotten about. Wherever I’ve been as a manager, we’ve done very well. We never left Wigan for football reasons. We were three points off the play-offs with a game in hand, brought in £19 million in transfers, spent £4.5m and were one game away from reaching the knock-out stage of the Europa League, the only second-tier team in the competition. We left Wigan because me and the chairman never saw eye to eye. We had a couple of blazing arguments and I told him what I thought. So that’s the real reason why we left.
“Everywhere we’ve been, we’ve done well. We went to Bolton when they were second bottom of the table and kept them in the Premier League with nine points to spare, had them there for three years. The year we lost out, it was on the last day of the season, with lots of injuries and with what happened with Fabrice Muamba’s collapse on the pitch. So wherever we’ve been, I’d sit and debate with anybody about how well we’ve done.
“So [the prospect of being forgotten] is not something that fazes me. Everyone in the game knows what you’re capable of, how good you are and what you’ve done. There’s no point just taking a job for the sake of it.”
Coyle revealed he may consider following the recent examples of Alex McLeish and David Moyes in moving to the continent for his next managerial post.
“I’ve had offers from both home and abroad so that’s not something I’d rule out,” added Coyle. “When you leave Scotland, you go abroad to go to England! The bottom line is we all move as players, and will do so as coaches and managers as well. We know how the game works.
“That’s not something that I would worry about if it was the right opportunity. In essence, the game’s the same game, you just have different levels. The principles, the things you bring to training, and produce in terms of putting a team together are all the same.
“Alex McLeish was my manager at Motherwell and has always been a fantastic manager. He’s now got Genk challenging at the top end of the Belgian League. And no-one is going to tell me David Moyes is not an outstanding manager because of the trials and tribulations he had at Manchester United. It’s a fickle business, but you always retain that belief in your own ability.”
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