Coyle rallies beleaguered Bolton

The Trotters went into last Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against

Stoke at Wembley hoping to reach the final for the first time in

more than half-a-century only to come out on the end of a 5-0

thrashing. Coyle knows nothing can make up for the disappointment,

particularly for the club’s fans, but he is determined there will

be no cup hangover when Arsenal visit the Reebok Stadium on Sunday.

He said: “There’s no getting away from how horrible a day it was

for everybody connected with the football club, and particularly

the supporters that came to watch us. “But as a manager I have to

make sure that the players are up again and get going and look to

bounce back as quickly as possible. “We have an opportunity to do

that now against Arsenal on Sunday, it’ll probably be the biggest

crowd of the season, and that’s testimony to the fans that come out

to support the team. “What we have to do is go out and give a big

performance and thank them for their backing because it couldn’t

have been particularly nice to have to sit and watch what

transpired last week. We have to get on the horse and get going

again.” The result was a particular shock because of the success

eighth-placed Bolton have enjoyed under Coyle, and the Scot

admitted that made it harder to stomach. He said: “When you look at

the progress we’ve made over the last 16 months, I think that had a

lot to do with it. I think everybody went with the belief we could

progress to the final and it went horribly wrong. “There was a

disappointment because of the expectation level. But we have to

remember all those other games and how well the lads have done for

the football club, and they will do again. You have to stick

together and look to get a smile on people’s faces again.” Last

weekend may have been the first major low of Coyle’s time at Bolton

but he was in reflective mood today as he looked back at previous

disappointments. He added: “I’m the man in charge and I’m

responsible for it, and until the day I die that game will hurt me.

But I’ve been here before in my managerial career. “With St

Johnstone I sat in the dressing room for six minutes after we won

the game on the last day of the season to see if my team had won

the league and Gretna scored in the fourth minute of injury time to

deny us. “At Burnley we went to the semi-final of the Carling Cup

and overturned a 4-1 deficit to Tottenham to beat them 3-0. In any

other competition you’d have been in the final but we went to

extra-time and lost a goal a minute and a half from the end. “We

had to pick ourselves up and we did and we went and got promotion

to the Premier League. That’s what we have to do now. “We’ve made

tremendous progress from a team that was favourites for relegation

last season to being in the top half of the Premier League all year

along with a fantastic cup run. We have to focus and finish the

season strongly.” Coyle will rely on most of the same players who

played at Wembley but he is able to call again on striker Daniel

Sturridge, who was cup-tied for the semi-final.