Is Owen Coyle's Attacking Style at Bolton a Sign of Things to Come for Other Premier League Clubs?
It’s no secret that Bolton have played some fine football this season as their current fifth place position proves. While Bolton were once a side under Sam Allardyce who played anything but beautiful football, Owen Coyle has done wonders at the Reebok in an incredibly short time. With a cast of players largely similar to Gary Megson’s Bolton who languished in the Premier League towards the bottom and with no real ambition, Coyle has been able to inject his brand of gusto-laden football into Bolton to the tune of some more than healthy results.
In just four and a half short months last season, Coyle proved the right man for the job when he pulled Bolton out of the relegation zone and finished the season in 14th on 39 points. Over the summer, Coyle secured the services of Martin Petrov and Robbie Blake but it was his time spent with his first choice starting XI that has proved most decisive in Bolton’s impressive run of results this season.
While Bolton continue to thrive under Coyle and chase a European spot of some form, I can’t help but to notice just how many other Premier League sides are implementing similar styles of attacking football and staying committed to the cause of attack.
Joining Bolton on the list of clubs who are attempting to shred the moniker of dull and boring sides in the Premier League are West Brom, Wolves, Blackpool and Wigan (Saturday’s match between Bolton and Blackpool is sure to be an incredibly open and entertaining match).
Although Coyle himself is no innovator of tactics new or unheard of, his dedication to positive football seems to be catching on as teams once thought of as unable to compete with traditionally bigger sides have enjoyed some success against them this season.
West Brom drew United and beat Arsenal away from home, Wolves beat Manchester City at home and Wigan beat Tottenham at White Hart Lane. Although Wolves and Wigan remain in the relegation zone currently, it’s not for their lack of trying while they’ve stayed committed to attacking football.
While Coyle’s formation of 4-4-2 that has been so successful isn’t breaking ground in English football, his tactics and organization of his team have been paramount in what Bolton have been able to achieve this season. A central midfield pairing of Stuart Holden and Fabrice Muamba compliment each other well and both feature close to the top of the tackles won list. Both work hard and have the ability to complete a decisive pass while Holden often gets forward resembling a third striker.
Kevin Davies continues to do what Kevin Davies does well and strike partner Johan Elmander has been in scintillating form in recent weeks. Chung-Yong Lee has performed tirelessly on the wing, exposing many of the league’s left backs with his pace and invention and a back-line led by Gary Cahill has been solid enough without flirting with shakiness.
Coyle’s strength can be described as noticing what players are good at, recognizing that talent and molding it with other players who have different strengths to form a cohesive unit. Whether or not Coyle and Bolton can keep up their fantastic run is yet to be known, but what is a sure thing, is that Coyle will stay committed to attack thus proving he’s a quality manager while it seems others are noticing and trying their best to do the same.