So it’s official then, Owen Coyle will be the new manager of Bolton Wanderers and Burnley now have to find the right man to replace him as they look to continue the good work this season has produced. It is crucial that the chairman, Barry Kilby, makes the right decision in who to appoint as Coyle’s successor at Turf Moor.
Without wanting to state the obvious, it is paramount to Burnley’s continued success this season that the right man is given the job. That means the chairman has to avoid being star struck when the same old names come calling for the vacancy. Get it right and Burnley’s home form should see them stay up. Make the wrong decision and the club could spiral to the foot of the table in weeks.
Whilst Kilby should be rightly lauded for appointing Coyle in the first place, I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how much of an effect he would have on the sleeping giant. Stabilising the club by keeping them in the Championship and slowly building, improving the side year on year would have been a wonderful achievement. He surpassed all that when they won the play off final with their highest finish to a season since 1976.
Yet, you only have to look back to the mid nineties to see the age old disease that afflicts certain chairman. They get star struck and with the tenures of Adrian Heath and Chris Waddle still in the minds of Burnley fans, the last thing the club needs is a ex-footballer who thinks he can manage in the Premiership. They need someone who knows the demands of Premiership football and what the club means to the fans. It is not an easy decision for the club to make but they have to keep their eye on the prize.
It also means avoiding such arch self publicists as Graham Souness, Ruud Guillit, Bryan Robson and Gianluca Vialli. Men who’s reputations are fanned by the hero worship dished out to them as pundits on Sky Sports. Ignore their failings as managers, they’ve won countless trophies as players, men such as Tony Cottee who took over a Barnet side flying high only to completely destroy them in less than 5 months. Star struck chairman should be banned.
So I had a look on the League Managers Association Website earlier, to see who was available on their list. Oddly, Souness, Vialli and Guillit are still touting their wares, but a couple of oddities appeared. Burnley’s two previous managers before Coyle, the overrated Steve Cotterill and the universally detested Stan Ternent are still on there. In fact most of the list reads as a who not to give the job too, with John Barnes and Tony Adams still refusing to realise their limitations and the ever popular Gary Megson available if you want to alienate your entire fan base.
Yet there are some stand out candidates, firstly Alan Curbishley is there, as is Mark Hughes and Steve Coppell. Former Scotland manager George Burley and Paul Jewell are still available. For me, those are the 5 top options of unemployed managers that the LMA are offering. Curbishley wouldn’t probably want to move so far North and probably Coppell is wrestling with the idea of returning to Reading no doubt.
It may be too soon for Mark Hughes to return to the game so quickly after his ignomious exit from Manchester City which leaves Burley and Jewell. Burley proved at Ipswich that he could work on a tight budget, play effective and attractive football and earn promotion whilst at Ipswich. What he has against him is his failure to deal with bigger name players and keep sides in the Premiership. Jewell also has proved an ability to make a purse out of a sows ear, as his spells at Bradford City and Wigan Athletic showed.
Jewell though is still tainted by his awful spell at Derby County and Burley proved in his third Premiership season with Ipswich and during his time as Scotland manager, he just can’t handle big name players. He was also tainted with a torrid spell at Pride Park, which begs the question, what happens to managers at Derby County?? So would going after a manager currently employed be the answer?
Looking outside the Premiership though only seems to point to one candidate who could cope with the job and the pressure of Premier League football. He’s managed an international side and took a team from non league to the cusp of promotion to the Championship. He then took over another sleeping giant and took them up before almost taking them to the Premiership in 2008. That man is Gary Johnson at Bristol City and I believe he’s the only man out there for the job at Burnley.
Now, don’t laugh but I honestly feel he’d be perfect for the job and would keep Burnley up. The only downside is that potentially, Bristol City are a bigger club, with a larger fan base. This season, they’re averaging 14,553 fans a game, whilst Burnley are almost at capacity with 20,344. Promotion for Bristol City would be a massive boost for the area, and with plans to move the club to a 30,000 seater stadium by 2011, with option to increase it to 42,000, would Johnson give all that up for a crack at the Premiership? It’d be a tough ask, but if they could get him, then they should bite his hand off. Just don’t give it to one of the usual suspects, it’d be curtains for Burnley.