By Matthew Mountford-Brock

You could be forgiven for thinking a modern football manager’s job is all coaching and tactics, but during his Executive Guest Speaker Session at UCFB, Owen Coyle exemplified how other responsibilities can sometimes overshadow this.

As Bolton Wanderers manager, Coyle was witness to one of the most astonishing moments in modern football history when his star midfielder, Fabrice Muamba, collapsed on the pitch during an FA Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in March 2012.

Coyle said: “His heart stopped for a period of time that really, he probably shouldn’t have come back from. But he did and obviously then the eyes of the worldwide media are upon you.”

The now Ross County manager added: “I think we did five days of consistent press conferences from the hospital where Fabrice was recovering. His recovery was remarkable – all credit to him and the medical staff – but nothing in coaching prepares you for an event like that.”


Muamba has previously praised Coyle and expressed his gratitude to the Scot for his support during what was a difficult time.

Despite being an experienced professional, it was a situation the seasoned manager could not have been prepared for, and the former Burnley and Blackburn Rovers man gave further advice for ambitious coaches of the future during his talk to students at UCFB Etihad Campus.

Coyle said: “There are a lot of things you learn on coaching courses, but there are also things that you don’t and sometimes it’s those real-life experiences, so you’ve got to manage them and deal with them. Nobody can prepare you for them.”

He added: “I think that there’s a lot that you learn on the job, and so I think the important thing is to always be true to yourself.”