Belfast Telegraph

Coyle ready to handle criticism

Bolton boss Owen Coyle believes he and Aston Villa counterpart Alex McLeish are "big enough and ugly enough" to handle any criticism coming their way.

With his side having lost 11 of their 14 Barclays Premier League fixtures this season to lie 19th in the table, the pressure is on Coyle more than ever before during his near two-year tenure at the Reebok Stadium.

Wanderers host Villa on Saturday with McLeish under similar scrutiny, but Coyle insists neither he nor his fellow Scot will let it trouble them, saying: "We all know the nature of the game we are involved in and I've said before, so long as people are not personal in terms of their criticism, then so be it."

He added: "We have all been in the game long enough and are big enough and ugly enough to accept what goes on. Alex knew the challenges he was going to face and he also knows, as I do, that when you are winning games everything is rosy in the garden."

McLeish had to win over Villa fans after his controversial move from local rivals Birmingham in the summer, but the poor recent run saw boos ringing out around Villa Park during the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United on Saturday.

He has the backing of Coyle, though, who is vowing to tackle his own difficulties with a smile and expects the former Scotland manager to do likewise.

"He is a friend of mine; he signed me from Dundee United and I played for him (at Motherwell) and loved my time under him," Coyle said.

"He is a terrific manager and, more than that, he is an outstanding man, somebody I have got a lot of time for. He is very passionate and loves his football. He has done a terrific job wherever he has been.

"Of course there was going to be a furore about moving from Birmingham to Aston Villa, but he took that on the chin and accepted it for what it was, because we understand that in football, that everybody has their opinion.

"It is something as managers that we learn to deal with. I certainly try to with a smile on my face and Alex is also very much in that mould."

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