Burnley were in Southern California recently for a friendly with PDL side Ventura Fusion. After the game Regan Jackson spoke with Owen Coyle about scouting in LA, Scottish managers and how it felt to be offered the Celtic job.
Exclusive Interview with Burnley Manager Owen Coyle
By Regan Jackson
While some of the top clubs like Chelsea were taking the USA by storm this summer, Premiership newcomers Burnley slipped quietly through the back door and played a summer friendly against California side Ventura Fusion. Regan Jackson caught up with Owen Coyle at the game.
RJ: Owen, How are you enjoying California?
Owen Coyle: Brilliant, we’ve been out here in Ventura for a week and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. We’ve had a tough game tonight against (Ventura) Fusion, I’ll bet a lot of positives come out of it, and it will help stand us in good stead for the season proper.
RJ: While you are in the Los Angeles area are you considering players from Central and South America?
Owen Coyle: Yeah I mean I think we consider players from all countries in World football because what we have to do is continue the development of Burnley Football Club.
Particularly where young players are concerned, because we see that as the way ahead for our football club at Burnley and I’ve also said, South America, Europe, you name it. We’re interested in good players, but also believe that the United States is a really untapped market. I know various players have played in Europe but I think the young players coming through at this level can go on to terrific careers in England, which as we all know is the best league in the world.
So that is another reason for coming here, that we put down some roots, make acquaintances, friendships, and hopefully reap the benefits of it.
RJ: You gave a trial tonight to 19 year-old Ecuadorian winger Fernando Guerrero. How did he do?
Owen Coyle: I thought he was direct. Scored a great goal, made two or three, hit the post, looked a real entertainer which is what we want at the football club. Again, it would be remiss of me to start going through individuals, because our strength is in our group and I think that was evident tonight. When it all comes together it’s a nice sight to behold.
It’s very much the strength, as I say, that is in the group and the spirit of the club, and we’re going to need all that come the season proper.
RJ: Can you explain to me why there are so many successful Scottish managers in the football league?
Owen Coyle: It’s a question often asked. I mean I happen to believe there are a lot of good managers whether they happen to be Scottish, Welsh, English or Irish or whatever. But there’s obviously the perception that Scottish managers have been successful.
What I do know is my experience with the ones I know, I believe we are really driven to be the best we can be. And we leave no stone unturned in trying to fulfill that.
Now, sometimes you need a lot of things for that to come together. You need a little bit of luck, hopefully a good eye for a player, but ultimately in this day and age I think you need good social skills in terms of man management.
But also if you don’t have that fire in your belly, as we say back home, that burning desire…
RJ: …the work ethic?
Owen Coyle: …Yeah, absolutely, if you don’t have that, if you don’t bring all that together it will count for nothing, and I think there is a real passion to drive yourself on and really leave no stone unturned in your mission. And that work ethic as you mentioned, I think that’s a great divvy as a kid, certainly in my upbringing that nobody ever hands you anything.
Anything you get you’re going to have to earn. It’s always stood me in good stead and hopefully will continue to.
RJ: How did it feel to be offered the Celtic Job?
Owen Coyle: Well, you’re always flattered when you are linked with big clubs. And Celtic was, no they are my team I supported as a boy and always will ’til the day I die. That goes without saying.
But I knew I had a job to do at Burnley. I’ve taken this magnificent club back into the best league in the world, the Premier League and I want to make sure they remain there. Now that’s my job as manager. We’re under no illusions as to how difficult it will be. Budget wise we will have the lowest budget in the league by a country mile.
It’s not something that fazes us, we’re very focused on the job in hand.
We know, or we believe we know how to go about it and we’ll do everything we can to retain that Premier League status.
So hopefully I’ve shown the loyalty that the club would have expected of me, from the relationship I have with the Chairman and it’s up to us to kick on and show that it’s been the right decision.
RJ: Are you intending to keep Turf Moor an intimidating place for the big boys when they come up to play you?
Owen Coyle: Well we certainly hope that’s the case. We certainly hope it’s intimidating. We certainly hope that people feel “uh oh. I don’t want to be here” but that will be up to us to do that. You know, it’s up to us to make sure that when teams come to visit Turf Moor it’s not an enjoyable experience for them. The crowd have been magnificent for us from day one and they can be that 12th man and really spur us on.
RJ: Stoke City were an example of that last season, wouldn’t you say?
Owen Coyle: Yeah I mean there’s a lot to be said for it but ultimately you have to be sure to deliver quality football within doing that. But we have an unbelievable set of supporters and again, we’re hoping we can put a smile on their faces.
RJ: Do you feel you need large injections of cash in order to stay up with everyone in the Premier League?
Owen Coyle: Well knowing you have vast sums of money means you can obviously go and get the top top players but that’s not the way ahead for us because that then would put a huge burden on the football club, so we see the way ahead as investing in youth and that’s what we continue to do and I’m sure that will serve us well. It’s not about today or tomorrow it’s about having longevity in the football club. Make sure we put a plan in place that will serve this club well for years to come.
RJ: What was your most memorable moment as a player?
Owen Coyle: It’s a difficult question ’cause I scored just under 300 goals in my career so there were a lot of nice moments. I do obviously remember winning promotion to the Premier League with Bolton and scoring at Wembley in a play off final, so if I were asked to choose one I’d probably have to go for that.
And then to lead your team out at the play off final as a manager of Burnley football club to take us back to the Premier League. Put the two of them together. I’m very thankful for that and obviously I think I’ve been blessed with that, I really do.
We certainly don’t take it for granted. But, having said that I mean both those things were earned. I certainly earned it as a player, earned it as a manager of the football club. We have to earn our rewards and we’ll look to do that.
RJ: Well as an observer I’m very impressed with the club, the playing and coaching staff.
Owen Coyle: Well I’m thankful for that and as well I’ve got to say we are very much a family club, and I don’t know if there have been too many clubs in the Premier League that would have seen every player after the game going and signing autographs and staying for photos and I think that speaks volumes really for what we are trying to do at the football club. I was very proud of the lads and the fact they were prepared to do that but I know the type of boys I’ve got and it didn’t come as a surprise.
Reprinted with the express permission of our friends at First Touch Magazine .