Fabrice Muamba has questioned the sacking of Owen Coyle as Bolton Wanderers manager, describing himself as "devastated" by the 46-year-old's removal on Tuesday. While the club should have the Scot's successor in place before their next match on Saturday week, Muamba remains grateful to Coyle who offered unstinting support when the midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest in March.
After Coyle oversaw Wanderers relegation from the Premier League last season, he managed only three wins in their opening 10 Championship matches to leave them 18th on 11 points. This caused Phil Gartside, the chairman, and Eddie Davies, the owner, to dismiss Coyle.
Muamba was forced to retire after suffering a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup quarter-final at Tottenham Hotspur on 17 March, with his heart stopping beating for 78 minutes before a recovery that was described as "miraculous".
Coyle was widely praised for his support of Muamba, 24, who said: "Owen was very supportive to me and I am grateful for that. If you look at the start of the season, the guys have not been playing particularly well and the results have not been up to the standards we thought with the players we've got in the team. I was obviously devastated to see he was going, but I am sure the club and the chairman will bring someone in to get promoted because we need to get promoted.
"In football you make changes and sometimes that's good, sometimes it's bad. We just have to wait and see how the club react. Football is a results game and you get paid and picked if you play well. If you don't, you get out of the team. For players it is the same as a manager. You stay in the job as long as the boys are performing for the team. I can understand exactly where the club came from, but at the end of the day he did a great job for the club and I am grateful to him."
Muamba, speaking at the Leaders in Football conference at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge, is unsure about his future. "I have just been enjoying life, spending time with my family," he said. "I am writing a book at the moment, which will hopefully be out in November. I have been travelling as well but I never watch much football because I get really frustrated. As a professional, you get frustrated not being involved. I have been spending time with family, friends and catching up with a lot of people. Doing things I wasn't able to do when I was playing. I have time to do it now.
"Regarding coaching, I'm too impatient. I would like to be involved in football in some shape or form."
Coyle's successor should be in place for Bolton's next game, the visit of Bristol City to the Reebok Stadium on 20 October. While the club have not set a time frame on finding Coyle's replacement and are intent on a thorough process, the international break allows nearly two weeks from the 46-year-old's sacking to attract the successful candidate before the visit of City.
There is confidence that given the strength of Wanderers squad and the infrastructure of a club that is in only its first few months out of the Premier League, after 11 years in the top flight, that there will be no shortage of candidates.
The shortlist for the post is expected to be headed by Mick McCarthy, and may also include Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Roy Keane, Alan Curbishley, Karl Robinson, Keith Hill, Billy Davies and Steve Bruce.
Giovanni Trapattoni, the Republic of Ireland's 73-year-old manager, has dismissed any link between him and the vacant Blackburn Rovers job after speculation that his advisers had been in contact with Venky's. "I'm not aware of it," he said. "It must be agent chitchat. I'm not interested anyway."