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Is Owen Coyle's Attacking Style at Bolton a Sign of Things to Come for Other Premier League Clubs?

Feb 14, 2010 - Bolton, United Kingdom - FA Cup: Bolton Wanderers 1 v 1 Tottenham Hotspur.Tottenham manager HARRY REDKNAPP and Bolton boss OWEN COYLE before the game.

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.

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  1. Jake

    February 18, 2011 at 6:21 am

    I can say now there are many more teams in the EPL with worse debts, and we should not need to sell the best players obviously offers will come in at stupid amounts and we will have to take the money but if we (bolton) finish top 8 this season i will be very happy and will be looking foward to european football again next season.

  2. James Kay

    November 27, 2010 at 7:33 am

    I would like to see attacking soccer being played by every team but that just won’t happen. Too many teams play with negative tactics when they come up against superior opposition. Even teams like Liverpool who have so much international players have a manager that uses negative tactics when playing away from home regardless of the opposition.

    I hope Bolton finish the season in the top 6 becuase then maybe other teams will think about being more attack-minded and know they can still do well.

    • The Gaffer

      November 27, 2010 at 7:49 am

      Bolton has always been put on a pedestal as the quintessential negative team in the Premier League. Now that Owen Coyle has changed the formation and tactics, let’s hope that other teams will follow suit and play more attacking football.

      The Gaffer

  3. jon sharp

    November 26, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I agree that Bolton are going from strength to strength on the pitch and are increasingly one of the teams to watch in the EPL. However, this appears to have come at a cost to their balance sheet. Their level of debt has grown dramatically to accomodate player acquisitions and increased wages at a time when their revenues have remained essentially flat. Their business model is not sustainable and they seem destined to have to sell some of their best players in the not too distant future. It’s a stark reflection of the difficulty that smaller teams have competing in the transfer and wages market with the bigger clubs. Hopefully Bolton’s deserved run of form will help increase their revenues too.

  4. che

    November 26, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    its good to see Bolton and Blackpool likes of teams playing atacking football.

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