Whether or not Owen Coyle’s Bolton side can maintain their push for a Champions League place, the Trotters’ achievements thus far this season are not to be laughed at. They are this season’s surprise packet and their rise up the Premier League table has come as a result of a new footballing philosophy at the Reebok Stadium.
Ex-Bolton Boss Sam Allardyce imbued his players with toughness and a steel that brought Bolton years of success, but his tactics also brought with them complaints from opponents that his team was too ‘dirty’ or not a proper footballing side. I do not mean to belittle Allardyce’s achievements with the club, but if I had to pick between watching Sam’s Bolton or Owen’s Bolton, then it would be a no-brainer.
Bolton are an aesthetically pleasing team this season. Their passing and moving is a joy to watch and their focus on free-flowing attacking football is reaping dividends. That Coyle has managed to impart his own attacking philosophy unto the club in such a short period of time is nothing short of miraculous.
Coyle knows exactly how he wants his team to play and will no doubt be extremely proud of what his team has managed to achieve thus far. The old Bolton tended to focus too much on the physical side of the game. The new Bolton is tough, but they aren’t overly physical. This side is more likely to pass you off the pitch than kick you off the pitch.
The atmosphere in Coyle’s dressing room also seems to be significantly more light-hearted than what you might expect in a dressing room patrolled by Sam Allardyce. Coyle has even gone so far as to suggest that the secret behind Bolton’s recent success is a dressing room prank. It turns out the Trotters pass time in the changing rooms with games of rock, paper, scissors. Who’d have thought?
Coyle told the Press that changing room antics like this were indicative of the “great spirit in this group.” He went on to say, “It is clear that the team are enjoying each other’s company, as this shows in their recent results.”
There’s a real spirit and sense of unity about this Bolton side. Whilst players like Johan Elmander have stuck out this season, it’s their performances as a team that has seen them on their way to success this season. Bolton’s transformation has been remarkable and their style of play should be encouraged and respected.
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