So Dave Whelan has sacked Owen Coyle. What is most disappointing was that he didn't wait for the glory boys to stuff his hillbilly outfit on December 15th.
Instead of gloating over Wigan as we are quite entitled to do, what with us being a) a bigger club and b) a better club, I thought I'd have a look at the last game of his tenure with Bolton Wanderers and see how things have changed since.
6th October, 2012, the New Den, Millwall - and Bolton Wanderers had just gone down to a last minute 1-2 defeat against the home side, with Darius Henderson scoring the 90th minute winner. I'll go through each player from that day, and make a couple of pithy comments accordingly:
Adam Bogdan - A divisive figure, loved and loathed in equal measure. Coyle brought him through the ranks to replace long-serving goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen, who departed that summer for West Ham and who is still making match-winning saves in the Premier League. Bogdan however has continued to frustrate and delight in (somewhat equal measure).
Tyrone Mears - A divisive figure, loathed and loathed in equal measure, somewhat unfairly. Seen as one of 'Coyle's Men', he has struggled to win over the Bolton Wanderers fans, and has barely featured since Dougie Freedman took over from Coyle in November 2012. He is very unlikely to appear in our first team again, barring any disastrous injuries.
Matt Mills - Coyle signed Mills from Leicester City for £2m and made him first choice alongside Zat Knight. He had some encouraging performances before injury struck and he was out for a number of months. Upon his return he struggled to make an impact in the team under Freedman until this season where he has formed a decent partnership with Tim Ream. Jury is still out, but there has been a definite improvement on his part.
Zat Knight - Zat has been with us since the Megson days, and we are still waiting for a good performance. He was an ever-present under Coyle, and latterly Freedman, though has been out of the picture for a couple of months following yet another sub-par performance. Has been cast since as a squad member who can be called upon when we're trying to hold on to a lead.
Stephen Warnock - Loaned to Bolton from Aston Villa, Warnock joined on a short-term basis before leaving to sign for Leeds United on a permanent basis. Coyle had expressed an interest in signing him for the Whites but finances dictated that we couldn't compete with the wages on offer at Elland Road. Judging from Warnock's performances since then we most definitely dodged a bullet there.
Chris Eagles - A major player under Coyle, and latterly Freedman. A talismanic genius in the Championship but someone who cuts a frustrated and frustrating figure at times. We all know that he is too good for this level, and he knows it too, but too often he is on the periphery. He was our main man last season, but we are still waiting for that player to return and help us out.....
Keith Andrews - Coyle spent big on the salary of the Irish midfielder who was meant to bring dynamism and a box-to-box quality that we lacked. Andrews however was mystifyingly used in a deeper role which led fans to write him off as 'lazy', despite it being clear that he was being wasted as a bridge between defence and midfield. Now out on loan to Brighton.
Darren Pratley (on as sub for Andrews) - Another midfielder who underperformed at Bolton Wanderers, he was brought to the club by Coyle when in the Premier League, and he again cut a frustrating figure. Whilst his commitment to the cause is not in question, unfortunately at times his quality was found lacking. Has suffered with a shortage of football this season due to injury and form.
Mark Davies - The key to our success. Coyle often said how Davies was his main man - he built the team around him. However I would contend that it was only when Coyle left and Freedman took over that Davies began to flourish. Suffered a terrible knee injury almost a year ago now and only just coming back to first team football. His successful re-integration in the side will be crucial as to how the second half of our season pans out.
Jay Spearing - Last season's Player of the Year has struggled for form since he arrived back at the club on a permanent deal from Liverpool. Arguably played his best football at Bolton Wanderers under Owen Coyle. Now a virtual ever-present and current captain, he is someone whom we should expect more from as this season progresses.
Chung Yong Lee (on as sub for Spearing) - A Gary Megson signing, he was absent for a large portion of the previous season, in a metaphorical sense, as the hangover from his broken leg meant that whilst he was present for a large number of games, he wasn't really there. Has been a lot better in the last six weeks, but another big player from whom we should expect more.
David Ngog - Enough has been said about this man before - but to continue the theme from above then we should expect, nay DEMAND more. A big money Coyle signing at £4m, we'd be lucky to recoup £1m in the January sales if, as I expect, he leaves the club. Very poor.
Benik Afobe (on as sub for Ngog) - Mother told me that if I had nothing good to say about someone, then I would be better off saying nothing at all.
Kevin Davies - Coyle's captain, and again a virtual ever-present in his first team line-ups. Since Coyle left he found it tougher to get back in the side, and if reports are to be believed he found it difficult to cope with no longer being the main man. Was released over the summer and is now leading the line for Preston North End of League One. It is not currently known if his wife is happy with this, but we suspect not.
Bolton Wanderers under Owen Coyle became a strange club. We showed signs of life and of competence, but now looking back we were strangled by EXTREME incompetence on Coyle's part. This incompetence, now apparent to all, was lost in a world of bluster and Newspeak. He alienated players, fans and eventually the entire club.
I wouldn't want to descend into childishness as those who know me will surely attest that this is not one of my character traits, but still, it's nice to laugh at Wigan, the wanky shitbuckets.