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Bolton Wanderers
May 26, 2009

I think everyone should stop what they're doing and give this some proper consideration: In just his first full season in the Championship, Owen Coyle has guided Burnley to the Premier League.

The Championship has been known to swallow careers whole, yet Coyle hasn't taken a backward step since he arrived from St. Johnstone. It's not a trick either. While they were getting out of one of the most competitive divisions in the World, Burnley chalked up some impressive wins against Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs in the League Cup.

And, they can't be dismissed because they arrived through the back door. The results in the Playoffs over the last few years have only underlined the strength of the Championship. Of the last four Playoff winners, West Ham and Hull City have managed to stay up.

Coyle has managed to achieve all this without the resources of some of his rivals, and while some of his players have featured in Premier League teams, you'd need a pretty good memory to realise where you've seen them before. Robbie Blake (Bradford), Joey Gudjonsson (Wolves) and Stephen Jordan (Man City) are hardly household names, except in Burnley.

May 21, 2009

Now that the 2008/09 season is dragging to a close, it's about time some of the under-appreciated performers were rewarded for their fine work. This won't be some sentimental PFA foot-kissing exercise; these are awards that the players will want to win.

(Yeah, I know that fictional awards are only one step up on the imagination ladder from writing lists, but c'mon, give me a break. It's been a month since Bolton played a meaningful match. The team is mentally on holiday, and I think I've joined them. I've spent the last two weeks in a sunny state of mind, willing Newcastle towards relegation.)