It’s a strange thought, but one which I believe carriers a lot of truth: Daniel Sturridge is the reason Owen Coyle lost his job.
Many will say that Coyle’s downfall started with their horrendous start to last season, and that he was never able to pick up the results and form needed to turn it around, and because their start has been relatively slow this season, they needed to act before it was too late. But I think the real reason and the base for the failure of Bolton Wanderers was the signing on loan of Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge.
At the time, Sturridge could not make the Chelsea team and was seen as a bright young thing with a big future in the game, but was being barred entry to the first team by the big hitters of Drogba and Torres. In light of this, he went on loan to Bolton and fired them to a relatively successful season ending in a mid-table finish and an FA Cup Semi Final journey to Wembley. The following season (last season) Coyle tried, and failed, to sign Sturridge on loan again – however, given his relatively success for the Wanderers, Chelsea decided to keep him for their own uses. Instead, Bolton had to settle for David N’Gog (I’m not putting the blame at his doorstep either), while Johan Elmander also left the lilywhites.
Coyle never replaced Sturridge, although he arguably never had him. More importantly, he never met the new expectations set by the free-scoring Sturridge during that season – mid-table bordering on Europa league places and a very decent cup run.
Before Sturridge, Bolton nearly always flirted with relegation each season – in his one season he raised expectations somewhat, expectations which could not be sustained. And following relegation, every newly relegated team is expected to fire out of the blocks and challenge for promotion from the off – something Bolton have definitely not done. Worryingly, had Steve Kean had the same start as Coyle, it is likely he would still have been nowhere near winning the sack race.
What Coyle’s sacking does do is blow the managerial market wide open – which will not be a good thing for Blackburn. Who is a manager more likely to sign for: a team with a good relationship with its fans, a good club structure, and history which is still kept in mind; or, a club where the fans have fallen out with the owners, the owners play the manager like a puppet, protests have been common, and expectations are high and a win is needed from day one? One thing the new Blackburn manager will have, if chosen correctly, is a massive support from day one – purely because they are not Steve Kean.