Owen Coyle is no stranger to Ross County.
He enjoyed a spell at the then First Division club on loan from Dunfermline in December 2000 and, despite his stay at Dingwall being brief, the experience has clearly left a mark on the 51-year-old, who is set to return north as the club’s new manager.
Much has changed since he left – not just the look of Victoria Park, but the division the club is playing in and the quality of player now in the squad he will inherit from Jim McIntyre, who was sacked on Monday.
Coyle has been on the managerial merry-go-round in England and now feels it is time to get back to showing why clubs down south were clamouring for his services in the last decade.
He has been involved in promotions as a player and manager, doing so well at it that Celtic courted his services at one point before turning their attention to Ronny Deila.
Coyle, 51, is a man who does things his way. He has worked at the highest level in English football and in the United States, with varying success.
Through it all he has remained a man in demand. This week alone he has been linked with County, Falkirk and Oldham Athletic.
Coyle could have stayed in England. He has not worked in Scotland for a decade.
The former Falkirk co-manager, who was famous for dining on fish and chips and a can of IRN-BRU every Friday prior to playing on a Saturday, last worked in Scotland in 2007 with St Johnstone before being lured to England by Bolton Wanderers a week before the Challenge Cup final.
The former Republic of Ireland international forward’s stock rose dramatically in England after leading Burnley to the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history thanks to 1-0 play-off final victory against Sheffield United at Wembley in 2009.
He was linked with a return to Scotland that summer with champions Celtic but opted to stay at Turf Moor, where he signed a new deal.
Burnley beat Premier League champions Manchester United at Turf Moor in their first top-flight home match for 33 years and in January, 2010 Coyle’s former club from his playing days, Bolton, came calling and Coyle expressed a desire to leave Burnley.
Coyle went on to keep Wanderers up, while his former club Burnley was relegated. However, in May 2012 Bolton were relegated – on the final day of the season – to the Championship and, with the team struggling thereafter, Coyle was sacked in October 2012.
Coyle returned to the game with Wigan as Roberto Martinez’s successor in June 2013 but was sacked in December with the club 14th in the Championship. He moved to the US to take charge of Houston Dynamo in December 2013 on a three-year deal but departed the club in May 2016 after expressing a desire to be closer to his family who had stayed in Britain.
Coyle was appointed manager of Championship club Blackburn in June 2016 but sacked in February after 37 games in charge.
Maybe his experiences in England have soured him but Coyle has been looking for a return to Scotland for some time.
He applied for the Hearts job following Ian Cathro’s sacking and has also been linked with a return to Falkirk following Peter Houston’s dismissal on Sunday but County chairman MacGregor got his man.
Now a new challenge begins as he takes charge of a County team lying 10th with four points from their opening seven games.
There is work to be done but Coyle will undoubtedly tackle it like he tackles those fish suppers. With relish.