FOR no obvious reason, the town of Bolton is twinned with Le Mans – home of the oldest car race in the world.
However the speed with which Wanderers manager Owen Coyle raced through his post-match Press conference on Saturday at least made some sense of the connection.
With his words flowing out fast and loose in his strong Scottish brogue, it was just as well for most reporters they had tapes as well as notepads to hand.
But when the words were listened back to and analysed it became obvious that the Bolton boss is a man in a hurry – eager to put behind him a run which has seen seven defeats in eight Premier League games; in a rush to revive a team which has had the guts ripped out of it by the loss of players to injury, the end of loan spells and, in 33-year-old Kevin Davies’s case, the man-marking of Father Time.
Le Mans, of course, is above all an endurance race and it was Bolton’s failure to keep going at full speed to the finishing line that most irritated the manager.
“We can win games in this league, but to do that we need to play for a full 90 minutes instead of 45 minutes,” he sighed.
“The players know they have to play well for the duration.
“You have to stand up physically and mentally to the challenges in this league and that performance against Sunderland wasn’t good enough.
“It was a home game and a good chance for three points, but we needed to play to our maximum to win and we didn’t do that.
“I thought we had the best of the first half, but it went away from us in the second.
“Our second 45 minutes wasn’t good enough to win games in this league.”
Coyle did his best to lift his side, but he could only watch in frustration as they succumbed late on to constant Sunderland pressure.
“As coaching staff, we tried to make positive substitutions, to try to help us get up the park,” he said. “But we only found that positivity after Sunderland scored when we created two very good chances.
“That isn’t good enough.
“We should be making and taking chances when the game is at 0-0.
“It’s disappointing on the back of how we played last week, because we won against Wigan, and we knew we had a chance against Sunderland to move up the league, but we still have that stigma with us now of being in the bottom three.”
The Premier League is a marathon not a sprint and Coyle is convinced his side will not be stuck in the relegation zone for long, but he also knows his team can’t leave it too late before getting into their stride.
“I’m not being brave or naïve when I say I don’t see a relegation battle for us this season,” he added.
“But we need to stand up and take responsibility as a team and we also need to find consistency during games as well as from game to game.”