Bolton boss won't stand in the way of Elmander move
Published 23:00 03/12/10 By Alan Nixon
Bolton boss Owen Coyle admits he fears John Elmander will leave if the right club comes in for him - despite the pair celebrating a unique double yesterday.
Coyle was named Manager of the Month after his team’s surge up the Premier League table, his first award for achievement at his new club inside a year of arriving.
But the Wanderers manager fears that Swedish striker Elmander, who voted Player of the Month despite being outscored by sidekick Kevin Davies, may be tempted by a bigger challenge in the January window.
Elmander is being tracked by Liverpool among others and Coyle said: “Johan is a lovely man, someone I have a lot of time for. Ultimately, if and when - it’s hypothetical at the moment - something came out and he said, ‘I’d like to try that’, I wouldn’t have any problem with it.
“He has been fantastic for me. The relationship I have got with him is great, it is very upfront and we are quite open with each other.
“If in January a top club, a Champions League club, came in for Johan, it would only be natural that he would turn his head at that. It’s only natural in football.
“It’s never going to faze me, I’m not going to get upset about it. Ultimately, Johan has to do the right thing for him and his family.”
Coyle’s style of man-management has got Bolton so far since he has taken over and he is not going to change his player-friendly way. He knows Elmander may get a bigger deal elsewhere than the one-year contract on the Reebok table.
He said: “We speak every day. I can’t say we speak about contracts every day because my focus is to ensure he is at his best in games but obviously there was a meeting with the chairman and Johan’s agent. It’s a situation that I’m very comfortable with.
“If Johan decides ultimately to run his contract down to the end of the season then that’s his decision to do that. I don’t have any problem with it.
“Johan has been here for a number of years. On the other side you can say why did you not sign him up a year and a half ago on an extension? I think at that time people would have looked and thought, well, because he was getting criticised and people’s perception might have been that it was folly to do that.
“So as it is Johan is in his last year but I’m comfortable with it, he is giving me everything he has got game to game, he has been brilliant and long may that continue.”
Coyle moved often enough in his career to know moves do not always work out and he hopes Elmander thinks hard on his next step. He said: “I always said as a player - and Johan will know this - that the grass is not always greener on the other side.
“Johan knows he is at a great football club. He is enjoying his football, he is probably playing the best stuff of his career at the moment and there’s a lot to be said for that - being happy, coming in with a smile on your face. He knows the manager believes in him and I think I have a top class player.”