OWEN Coyle won’t be holding any grudge against Stuart Holden despite his unwanted role in Manchester United’s equaliser at the Reebok on Saturday.
The Wanderers boss revealed his midfielder walked off the pitch crestfallen after allowing Michael Owen to head the Reds back into the game 16 minutes from the end of a pulsating derby.
But Coyle did not read the riot act to the US international who became his first signing when he arrived on a free transfer from MLS outfit Houston Dynamo in January.
“Stuart is beating himself up a little bit because he should have picked Michael Owen up for the equaliser, even though he was blocked off,” the manager explained. “That’s credit to Manchester United and their physicality.
“He’s feeling a little hard done by because of that, but I can’t complain too much because Stuart has been magnificent for me since day one.”
Holden’s first stint in English football ended in disappointment after he was released by Sunderland as a teenager following a long list of injuries and a horrific attack outside a Newcastle nightclub that left him with a broken cheek. But he has seized his second chance at Premier League football with both hands, and Coyle believes he will continue to improve.
“After picking him up for nothing, having had a few setbacks in his career, it’s great to see him show his qualities,” he said. “He wants to stay on the training pitch after every session and he’s driving himself on to improve. There’s no doubt he’s doing that.
“The energy he shows, the level of his play, fans are reacting to that. We think the world of him, and the way he’s playing at the moment is terrific for the club.”
Coyle also had words of praise for Zat Knight, who has been a revelation since the Scot’s arrival at the club.
“When I arrived in January I had all these people telling me he was playing indifferently,” said the Bolton boss.
“But he has shown such quality since I have been here, he has a manager who believes in him, and I thought he was outstanding against Manchester United.
“As well as the goal, his whole performance was outstanding. He’s stood there like a tower and dealt with everything that has came his way.”