Coyle to use United gauge
Owen Coyle believes Manchester United's visit is an ideal measuring stick for Bolton's progression.
Last Updated: 24/09/10 6:09pm
Owen Coyle believes Sunday's visit of Manchester United is an ideal measuring stick for Bolton's progression under his stewardship.
The Trotters have been on an upward curve since Coyle left Burnley to move to their local rivals in January.
Although Coyle suffered a blip by seeing his team crash out of the Carling Cup on his return to Turf Moor midweek, Bolton have tasted defeat just once this season and are unbeaten at the Reebok Stadium thus far.
That sequence of home solidarity has become a feature of Coyle's reign, which includes just two home defeats since he took charge of the Whites.
One of those defeats was to United back in March and the Trotters boss intends to use this weekend's clash to work out how far his team have come since then.
"This is a gauge to see if we have improved," said Coyle.
"We are in for a tough afternoon because I believe Manchester United will go close to winning the Premier League again.
"But I want to make sure we perform in a way where we have no regrets."
Coyle's regret at the last meeting was the goal Bolton conceded just prior to the break.
The hosts were just edging it until Jlloyd Samuel turned the ball into his own net, triggering a one-sided second period that ended with United four goals ahead and Bolton back in trouble at the wrong end of the table.
As it turned out, relegation fears proved unfounded, which allowed Coyle to build on an already capable squad, including the likes of Jussi Jaaskelainen, who is set to return from suspension.
Jaaskelainen has served a three-match ban for his dismissal against Birmingham and, even though Coyle has been impressed at the performances of 22-year-old replacement Adam Bogdan, it is hard to imagine Bolton going into a game of such magnitude without their experienced number one.
"I have a tough decision to make because Adam has done ever so well," said Coyle.
"Funnily enough, Jussi has been an enormous help to Adam by working with him on a daily basis.
"But, prior to the sending-off, Jussi was in terrific form. He is a top-class goalkeeper who has been a fantastic servant to the Premier League and it is great to have him back."
Coyle will be acutely aware of the damage Wayne Rooney has caused Bolton in the past.
Yet it was Dimitar Berbatov who scored two of the goals that defeated his team at the Reebok Stadium in the spring and the Bulgarian is undoubtedly United's most in-form attacking player at present.
With his seven goals so far this term including a hat-trick against Liverpool last weekend, Berbatov is a man Bolton will have to pay close attention to.
However, Coyle is wary about focusing on one man when Sir Alex Ferguson has so many stars at his disposal.
"If you looked at them individually, you would be here all day thinking about it," he said.
"I have to focus on my own players and getting them to give their best and show their qualities.
"If we can do that we know we can make a real game of it."