Coyle sees decision to drop hard working Davies pay off as Bolton rediscover form
Bolton manager Owen Coyle believes Kevin Davies has been “trying too hard” to drag the Trotters out of the relegation mire.
Coyle took the brave decision to axe his skipper from last night”s crucial Premier League trip to Blackburn.
He was rewarded with one of Bolton”s best performances of a terrible campaign as they secured a 2-1 win that allowed them to scramble off the foot of the table at the expense of their hosts.
Dropped: Kevin Davies (centre) was left out of Bolton”s team against Blackburn
With Coyle admitting this is a season of transition at Bolton, it raised inevitable questions about Davies” future.
Yet in the battle for survival, big decisions have to be made.
“It wasn”t easy,” said Coyle.”Kevin has been trying too hard.
“He is Bolton through and through and I know what this club means to him.
“He has taken extra responsibility as captain and is trying to do everything himself. It detracts from his terrific strengths.”
So, Coyle pulled Davies to one side in the build-up and explained his plan.
“I spoke to him about it,” he revealed.
“Was it brave I have never been afraid to make tough decisions and it was made for the right reasons.”
Doubling up: Nigel Reo-Coker celebrates scoring Bolton”s second goal
Coyle was anxious to suggest the improvement could have come even if Davies has been in the starting line-up.
Yet it was obvious goalscorers Mark Davies and Nigel Reo-Coker both benefited from the additional pace of David Ngog, who produced his best all-round performance since his August arrival from Liverpool.
The end product was Bolton”s fourth victory of the season, three of which have come away from the Reebok Stadium.
With home games to come over the Christmas period against Newcastle and Wolves, Coyle knows the platform that has been created must not be squandered if his side are to complete a successful ascent out of the bottom three.
At least Coyle can rely on the backing of his club”s supporters, unlike opposite number Steve Kean, who faced such open hostility.
And, in owner Eddie Davies and chairman Phil Gartside, Coyle knows he is working with men who are agreed upon a vision for the future.
The only way is up: Owen Coyle
“I am responsible as manager but Eddie and Phil know what we have put in place here. That is why we have stood firm and stood together,” said Coyle.
“It has not been easy and everybody has their opinion. It is hard to tell people what we are doing for the long-term because in football, the short-term is the be-all and end-all.
“But if we can get that short-term fix we will be in the best position we have ever been.”
And, while Kean was left to lament the absence of so many first-choice defenders, it should not be forgotten either than arguably Bolton”s best two players, Stuart Holden – who spent last night with the away fans – and Lee Chung-yong have both been missing for the entire campaign through injury.
“It is difficult to replace that quality for quality at our level,” said Coyle.
“I accept Manchester City can do it. We can”t.
“In addition, Daniel Sturridge and Johan Elmander left.
“You miss top players. But I still believe we are good enough to stay in the league.
“Nothing had changed but we are in a real dogfight.”
Coyle confirmed that central defender David Wheater will come into contention for the Boxing Day encounter with Newcastle after completing a four-match suspension, although Marcos Alonso faces another extended spell on the sidelines amid fears the defender has suffered a recurrence of the broken foot that kept him out for almost four months earlier this season.