Owen Coyle still right man for Bolton - Jason McAteer

By Chris BevanBBC Sport

Former Bolton midfielder Jason McAteer believes Wanderers boss Owen Coyle is still the right man to turn things around at the Reebok Stadium.

Bolton are second-bottom of the Premier League but McAteer is sure his former team-mate will keep them up.

He told BBC Sport: "It takes bottle to get out of a relegation battle and Owen will instil confidence in the team.

"Knowing him, there will be no doom and gloom. The dressing room and training ground will be a good place to be."

Saturday's defeat by Tottenham means Bolton have lost 11 of their 14 top-flight games this season, and McAteer said he is "surprised" that they have failed to build on their previous campaign, in which they spent several months in the top half of the table and reached the FA Cup semi-finals.

"Losing Daniel Sturridge and Johan Elmander and their goals from last season has been very difficult for Owen," McAteer added.

"At the back, they just haven't performed and I don't know whether all this talk of [centre-back] Gary Cahill moving in the summer has affected him.

"When you throw it all into the mix you end up being where they are this season, but there are still plenty of games coming up for them to get points on the board.

"Owen is a good manager, with great man-management skills, who definitely brings the best out of his players. He will make sure they go in with a positive attitude to every game."

McAteer feels Bolton's next three games, against Aston Villa (home) and Fulham and Blackburn (both away) give them a chance to climb the table before Christmas, but added that there is no doubt they are in a relegation fight.

"They are three very winnable games," he explained. "Villa are not going well, Fulham will have the distraction of the Europa League before they play and obviously the Blackburn game will be massive.

"It's just about getting one result which will change their fortunes and kickstart them into pushing up the table in the right direction.

"But it is easy for your season to become a relegation battle really quickly from the beginning of the season. If you don't get any momentum or get some points on the board pretty quick then all of a sudden all your games are six-pointers and you find yourself in deep trouble."

McAteer and Coyle were team-mates and terrace favourites in the Bolton side which won promotion to the Premier League in 1995, before former Republic of Ireland international McAteer left to join Liverpool.

He is pleased the Bolton fans have not turned on Coyle in the same way Blackburn supporters have continually called for Steve Kean to be sacked in recent months, and that Bolton chairman Phil Gartside is behind his manager too.

"As we've seen with Steve at Blackburn, when you have got fans protesting and banners everywhere it doesn't help," said McAteer, who also had a two-year spell at Ewood Park during his playing days.

"Bolton need all the support they can get from their fans and it's great that they are sticking behind Owen. He's a good man and he needs to be given time. It's too easy sometimes for chairmen and fans to get on the backs of managers and ask for something new. It doesn't mean it is going to work.

"Sometimes the manager needs a bit of time to get it right and it's nice to see at Bolton that he is actually going to get that time. That is the good thing about that football club - Phil Gartside is a very good man."