Well, the day Burnley fans have dreaded has finally come, and much sooner than they will have expected.

Owen Coyle will this week walk out on the team he led to the most unlikely of promotions to the Premier League, to take up the vacant manager’s position at Bolton Wanderers, a side who sit below Burnley in the league table, inside the relegation zone.

Coyle has previous with Wanderers – he played there for two years during the mid-nineties – but most would have expected him to try and see out the season at Turf Moor and keep Burnley up, enhancing his reputation further.

The move to Bolton is a risk. He will have a larger budget to work with, but he also has highly paid dross like £11m Gary Megson signing Johan Elmander to dispose of.

Burnley will now have to decide whether to look for an experienced manager to take over, perhaps on a short-term deal until the end of the season, or hunt for a natural successor to Coyle – young, a purveyor of attractive football, and as likely as not, Scottish.

John Hughes of Hibernian is the man the Guardian have picked out, while Derek McInnes is also a name being mentioned. McInnes is currently the manager of St. Johnstone, the club Burnley poached Coyle from back in October 2007.

Steve Coppell and Alan Curbishley are the two names on Burnley fans’ lips. Two older, out-of-work bosses with top flight experience. But both are Southern-based and may not relish moving to East Lancashire. Coppell left his previous club Reading after Burnley despatched them from the Championship play-offs back in May and cut a desolate figure on the touchline as his side slumped to a 3-0 defeat on aggregate.

Meanwhile another managerless Lancashire club, Preston North End, have seen their efforts to snap up former Peterborough man Darren Ferguson grind to a halt today. Speculation is bound to ensue that Burnley chairman Barry Kilby would like to speak to Ferguson regarding the post at Burnley, and the son of Britain’s most successful modern manager will be all ears with a Premier League job at stake.

Mike Phelan is the early bookies’ favourite. The Manchester United assistant manager was born in Nelson, just down the road from Burnley, and made 168 appearances for Burnley. Phelan’s coaching experience is vast and he is highly thought of at Old Trafford. Sir Alex wasted no time in appointing him as his number two following Carlos Quieroz’ exit to manage the Portugal national team.

Should Phelan be getting itchy feet in Manchester Burnley would be the perfect club for him to start his managerial career at the age of 47, still relatively young in managerial terms. Steve Davis, Burnley’s first-team coach and probable soon-to-be caretaker boss, would be a willing deputy for Phelan.

But for now Burnley fans will wait impatiently for news. Coyle’s departure will happen in the next couple of days once the compensation wrangling is complete – Burnley want £3m and Bolton are thought to have offered around £1m – but the quest for his successor may well drag out.

Davis is likely to get the chance to extend his 100% record on Saturday when Stoke City visit Turf Moor. Davis was in charge for one game the last time the Clarets were without a boss, and Burnley won 1-0 at Leicester City.

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