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Salad days of his managerial career seem long time ago as Coyle suffers change of fortune

OWEN COYLE'S stock has taken a tumble once again.

Wigan lost to Derby in Owen Coyle's last game
Wigan lost to Derby in Owen Coyle's last game

There was a time not so long ago when the Scots-born, once-capped Irish internationalist was a managerial hot ticket, someone whose name would always crop up whenever a big job became up for grabs.

He was in a position to turn down offers, too, most notably Celtic whose approach he rejected four years ago when the Parkhead club were looking for a successor to Gordon Strachan. He took Burnley into the Premier League, made the switch to Bolton Wanderers and seemed destined for the very top. The good times, though, wouldn't last forever and Coyle again finds himself down on his luck.

He took Bolton down in 2012, then was sacked a few months later after his team won just three of their first 10 matches in the Championship. He remained out of work for the rest of that season until Wigan Athletic offered him the chance to rebuild his reputation by appointing him as Roberto Martinez's successor in the summer. Less than six months later, though, Coyle is unemployed again, the 47 year-old and Wigan agreeing to part company on Sunday evening following three successive home defeats in the space of just over a week. Wigan sit in 14th place in the Sky Bet Championship but are only six points off a play-off place with a game in hand. That, though, has been deemed not good enough and Coyle has paid with his job.

It was never going to be easy to succeed Martinez, a manager feted for implementing an attractive brand of football and winning the FA Cup last season. The Spaniard, however, could not prevent Wigan falling out of the Premier League after eight successive seasons, leaving Coyle to make the necessary adjustments to lower-league football but with supporters still expecting the style that had been the hallmark of Martinez's tenure. The season started well before Wigan ran into difficulties, some poor away form and the demands of Europa League football eventually taking their toll.

The Wigan fans vented their anger during Sunday's 3-1 defeat by Derby County, and despite Coyle's plea for patience and understanding while he carried out his rebuilding job, chairman Dave Whelan decided a change was needed after just 23 games despite saying only a week earlier that "we hope to have Owen here for a very long time." That was of huge disappointment to Coyle.

"It is with great sadness that we have made this decision and I would like to thank all the staff at the club, who have been very supportive of me in my time here," he said in a statement. "I am confident that with this set of players, the team can keep moving in the right direction."

A second setback in 18 months need not be terminal to Coyle's managerial aspirations but the route to the top has now become infinitely more difficult. He may no longer be instantly linked with high-profile managerial vacancies as he was during happier times at Burnley and, initially, Bolton.

Whelan revealed recently that there had been a clause in Coyle's contract that would have allowed him to become Celtic manager if an approach was ever made. It is a club that has always been close to his heart, even if the lure of working in the Barclays Premier League meant he once rejected their advances.

The landscape has changed now, though. At his managerial peak several years ago, Scottish football held little appeal for Coyle but that may change given the way his last two posts have ended. There is no vacancy at Celtic Park right now but should Neil Lennon depart while Coyle remains out of work, there is every chance the Celtic fan would be among the favourites to land the job.

Managers, and players, who have moved to England to better themselves are often sheepish about having to return when the dream turns sour. But it can often provide a platform for those at a low ebb to become reinvigorated. Levein rebuilt his reputation at Raith Rovers, briefly, and then Dundee United after a difficult period at Leicester City, while Derek McInnes is proving his worth at Aberdeen following a disappoining end to his time at Bristol City. Coyle's preference may be to stay down south - he has already been linked with Sheffield Wednesday - but the Celtic job would surely still prove appealing if it became available.

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