Coyle: We'd have got promotion
Owen Coyle believes he could have led Bolton to promotion despite a faltering start to the Championship season.
Wanderers were many observers' pre-season favourites to secure an instant return to the Barclays Premier League, but a lowly standing of 18th position with 11 points from 10 games resulted in Coyle paying with his job on Tuesday.
It is a fall that seemed improbable 18 months ago when the former Burnley boss, who succeeded Gary Megson at the Reebok Stadium in January 2010, led Bolton to the FA Cup semi-final having steered them away from relegation trouble the previous season.
While bearing no malice toward Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside, a man with whom he forged a strong friendship, Coyle remains convinced the club's ultimate goal lay within his reach.
He told Sky Sports News: "We understand we had to hit the ground running this year. It's not happened.
"People say 'is it too early?' - I certainly believe we'd have got promotion from the position we're in.
"But ultimately, the people who make the decision have decided it's not to be. They want to seek a fresh face.
"What I do know is, whoever it is that's coming in, they're coming in to a marvellous opportunity at a wonderful club and I've got no doubts they will kick on from strength to strength."
As Bolton's fortunes plummeted on the pitch, Coyle won plaudits throughout the game for his public presence in the immediate aftermath of Fabrice Muamba's on-field cardiac arrest during March's FA Cup tie at Tottenham, and the midfielder's subsequent recovery to health.
Indeed, the 46-year-old spoke warmly of the bond between himself and the Wanderers squad that remained firmly intact until his departure.
"Of course you look at it and think, 'well, this one could have done better here and better there", but they're a great bunch of lads - conscientious," he added.
"Certainly the majority of them, you knew they were out giving me everything they've got.
"I went in to see them and some of them were emotional.
"The majority of them, 90%, certainly came to see me in my office before they left."
The strength of feeling was confirmed by Bolton midfield Stuart Holden, who took to Twitter to praise his outgoing manager.
He tweeted: "Want 2 wish Owen Coyle the best of luck in the future and thank him for believing in me. Forever grateful 4 the opportunity he gave me £bwfc"
Academy manager Jimmy Phillips and head of academy coaching and development Sammy Lee - who endured a disastrous spell of one win in 11 league games as Bolton manager in 2007 - will take temporary charge of the first-team squad, while a host of high profile names have already been linked with the post.
Former Wanderers forward and radio pundit Alan Gowling would like to see the club approach ex-Manchester United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Currently managing Molde in his native Norway, Solskjaer's name was also recently attached to reports concerning the managerial vacancy at Championship counterparts Blackburn.
Gowling told BBC Radio Manchester: "It's down to the chairman. He's obviously got to get it right this time as far as his choices are concerned.
"But one person I would talk to, and this might be a surprise, would be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, because I think he might be just ideal for the job."