Date: 6th January 2010 at 10:23am
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With Owen Coyle going from Hero to Zero and from God to Sod in under a week, the Clarets are now seeking a new manager and already the speculation in the media is hotting up. We take a look at some of the rumoured front-runners at this early stage.

Chief Coach Steve Davis is the obvious candidate to take over as caretaker until the mess that Coyle has left us with is sorted out. The assumption is that assistant manager, Sandy Stewart would eventually follow his mentor to Bolton but there is of course no certainty of that and he could even become our new manager although that seems unlikely. The other main question regarding Steve Davis though would be whether he would be willing to take over as caretaker only to realise once more that someone will be brought in over his head. He may have greater ambitions now and some early rumblings suggest he might be tempted to follow Coyle to Bolton. I don`t think too many Clarets would be too upset if Kilby decided to give Steve Davis a chance. They could allow him to be in charge until the end of the season before reviewing the situation depending on whether we survive in the top flight or not. He has been close of course to Coyle`s tactics and may be able to continue in that vein. The big question though is whether Steve would be just as good a motivator of the players as Coyle seemed to be and that could be a vital test with I suspect quite a bit of low morale around the place already affecting the players after Coyle`s departure. Davis is currently in third place with the Bookies who put him at 6-1 to take over.

The other question of course is whether Coyle was actually being that effective with his tactics in the top flight. Maybe we have all been blinkered by Coyle`s enthusiasm and motivation. Despite some excellent results especially at Fortress Turf Moor, the fact remains we have still not won away from home in the Premier League yet and at the moment are just two points clear of the drop zone with no league win now in nine games. Do we need a manager who knows how to grind out results and offer more of a Plan B especially on the road? If we do, would Steve Davis be the man for the job?

There is strong speculation in the media that the Clarets will once more be looking for a young, enthusiastic up-and-coming manager from the lower or Scottish leagues. Of course many Clarets fans will simply take that to be double-speak for the cheapest option but with the best will in the world you could never see Burnley being able to afford and secure the services of someone like ‘Sparky` could you? Nor do I think Mark Hughes would be remotely interested in coming to Turf Moor but you never know, he certainly has a pedigree of playing for and managing clubs in the North West.

What sort of manager do we need then? My own feeling is it would be risky to go with a manager who has no experience of the Premier League. We are in the mother of all battles to avoid relegation and survive in the Premier League; surely we need someone with a track record of success in the top flight.

My own preferred choice would be Steve Coppell, he did marvellous things with Reading in their first season in the top flight. The Royals under Coppell finished in eighth place, just one point short of UEFA Cup qualification although of course their second season was less successful and they were relegated. It could be difficult to tempt Coppell up north though; he seems to have a preference for clubs in the South East. He had four spells at Crystal Palace in addition to one at Brentford, Brighton and Reading. He was in charge of Manchester City in October 1996 but he lasted just 33 days and 6 games saying he left due to the ‘pressure of the job`. The Lancashire Telegraph today though report that Coppell has moved into top spot as the Bookies favourite to replace Coyle at 5-2

One controversial manager in the frame could be current Crystal Palace boss, Neil Warnock. Over the years he has not endeared himself to the Clarets faithful especially during his time at Sheffield United when he famously had a few spats with then Burnley manager, Stan Ternent. I have to say I have warmed to him recently and he certainly has a positive attitude in terms of an attacking entertaining-style of play. I have followed his column in Saturday`s Independent for some time and he comes across as a witty, intelligent and charming bloke who incidentally is often very complimentary about the Clarets.

The second favourite to take over at the moment at 3-1 is current assistant manager at Manchester United, Mike Phelan. He would be a popular choice being a former player for the Clarets between 1979-1985 and a local boy born in Nelson. This could certainly be the challenge and step-up that Phelan might want at this stage of his career. He is unlikely to ever succeed Sir Alex at Old Trafford.

Talking about Ferguson we better mention here that his son, Darren can be ruled out now despite being a favourite for the Burnley vacancy at one stage Darren Ferguson, the former Peterborough gaffer now looks set to take over this week as manager of Preston North End.

So who else is in the frame? Well the latest betting suggests Peter Reid, 9-1 Alan Curbishley, 10-1 Gareth Southgate and Paul Jewell Jewell & Reid always seem to come up and indeed both were interviewed for the job last time before it was offered to Coyle. Having read Brendan Flood`s book though (Big Club, Small Town & Me) both these characters are not portrayed very well.

Some other players are rumoured to be in the frame though. The Sun believes Blackpool’s Ian Holloway, Swansea boss Paolo Sousa and Leeds chief Simon Grayson are in our sights but do we really want to take the chance on a manager from the Championship or lower divisions when we are fighting for our lives in the top flight?

The same applies to Hibs boss John Hughes who has also now been linked in the media. Hughes has apparently been recommended by Coyle as his successor but why should we take the word of a manager that is now discredited in the eyes of many Clarets fans and is going to a rival club who are also in the relegation dogfight and a direct competitor? Coyle and Hughes worked together as co-managers at Falkirk in 2003 and it is understood that Hughes has a similar football philosophy in terms of an attacking style of play. There is no doubt that Hughes has been successful in his career to date but we are talking success in the SPL and Scottish leagues which is hardly at the same level of quality as the Premier League in England. The former Falkirk manager took over as Hibs manager at the start of the current season. He has steered the Edinburgh side to third place in the SPL but they are currently 14 points adrift of second-placed Celtic.

Some Clarets fans have suggested bringing Kevin Keegan back into football management and that would certainly be a high-profile appointment. Keegan`s last role as manager was at stricken Newcastle United. He joined them for a second spell at the club in January 2008 having been out of football for almost three years. It was not a successful return though and eight months later he resigned having fallen out with the Board.

Sean O`Driscoll is another manager we have been linked with in the media. The former Bournemouth manager has been in charge at Doncaster Rovers since 2006 and in his first full season steered them to promotion from League 1 via the play-offs at Wembley. Their progress in the Championship since that time has been steady if not spectacular. They now seem an established mid-table side and are currently 14th in the table.

Finally if you really want a long shot, how about former gaffer Steve Cotterill?

Yes, I can hear the laughter already but think about it. Cotterill is used to working with no money, he had to operate during his time with us on far less money than Coyle ever got and he kept us up by grinding out results. It might not have been pretty but it set the seeds for future success with Coyle inheriting a squad of players brought in by Cotterill; a squad which has been mainly retained up to this day and we are now in the top flight. Cotterill would know both what to expect and most of the players already. He would also be cheap!

Anyway, let us have your thoughts on who you would like to succeed Coyle. You can comment below this article, post on the various threads already started in the forums and vote in our Poll in the Backchat Burnley forum