The logic of Owen Coyle switching from Burnley to Bolton is beyond me, and neither I nor my laptop has the energy to tackle that here. That said, for the sake of the Scot, I hope Bolton’s insanely ruthless fan base manage to bite their collective tongue and actually get behind their team for the rest of the season. However, what I suspect will happen is that anything short of Coyle’s men joining the title race by March will lead to more detrimental and utterly disloyal complaints from the Reebok crowd.
I will admit that watching a Premiership team is quite a financial commitment, and fans want more for their money than access to limited edition themed pies, but this is frankly no excuse for hurling jeers and jibes toward players. Hours before his departure from Bolton, Gary Megson requested that the supporters stop persistently booing their team, as it was “starting to affect the players.” What effect did anyone really think it would have?! This kind of opposition is so inane and poorly constructed that it serves only to destroy the confidence of the players, and so spoiling results more than any incompetent manager ever could, even John Barnes.
Many will point to the money Megson spent, which was around £40m in three years. However, this is not excessive for a bottom half side, in fact it’s below average, looking at other teams in that area. Even Roy Hodgson has notched up well over £60m since the summer of 2007 to get to where he is with Fulham.
It is unfortunate for Coyle that his first three games have each been something of a foregone conclusion. Two defeats to an in-form Arsenal and a win over lower league opposition in the F.A. Cup don’t give enough of an insight into the probable future of Bolton under their new boss. It will be interesting to see how Bolton fans react if Coyle brings with him the more attractive style of play that he has promised but cannot deliver results.
Bolton achieved decent league positions and enjoyed a good run in Europe while Megson was in charge. He went from ‘Ginger Mourinho’ with the Manager of the Month award, to the most hated man in the North West in the space of three seasons. My point is simple: if you support a football team, then you have to SUPPORT it. Being a fan isn’t being a consumer, it’s a commitment to an institution. As Sir Bobby Robson once put it: “What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes. It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.” Can you imagine Sir Bobby Robson, that admirable footballing patriarch, ever booing his beloved Newcastle from the stands? I thought not.