Published: 27/09/2017 15:16 - Updated: 27/09/2017 15:30

Owen Coyle widely tipped to become new Ross County manager

Written byPaul Chalk

ROSS County are reportedly close to making former Burnley boss Owen Coyle their new manager.

Roy MacGregor, chairman of the Ladbrokes Premiership club, has been looking for a replacement for Jim McIntyre, who he axed alongside his assistant Billy Dodds on Monday morning.

Paul Hartley has been the bookies' favourites since the vacancy emerged, with Jack Ross at St Mirren and highly-rated County coaches Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell also linked to the post alongside ex-Scotland and Rangers gaffer Alex McLeish.

Reports this afternoon suggest MacGregor has agreed terms with 51-year-old Coyle and he could even be in place ahead of Saturday's league clash against fellow strugglers Kilmarnock at Rugby Park.

McIntyre, who replaced Derek Adams in Dingwall in 2014 then led the club to League Cup glory in March 2016, was axed on the back of their 1-0 home defeat against Hibernian at the weekend.

That defeat leaves County one point above bottom-placed Killie and only ahead of Partick Thistle on goal difference.

As things stand, Ferguson is charged with the task of taking the team this weekend and should vastly experienced Coyle be confirmed as the boss before that then the new manager would probably watch the game from the stand.

Coyle, who had a very brief loan spell in 2000 when he was a striker at Dunfermline Athletic, has also been linked to the hot-seat at Falkirk following the sacking of Peter Houston. Coyle was a Bairns forward in season 2002-03.

Coyle, who rejected the chance to manage Celtic eight years ago, was a boss in his own right at St Johnstone from 2005-2007 before being snapped up by Burnley, who he took into England's top tier three years later.

Six months later, he was lured to Bolton Wanderers where remained until October 2012 after a poor start to life back in the Championship following relegation from the Premier League.

In the summer of 2013, he took over at then FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic as they sought to find a way back to England's top table, however he left "by mutual consent" later that year.

His next stop was further afield as he jetted off to America's MSL to manage Houston Dynamos and he lasted just shy of 18 months before leaving, again "by mutual consent".

The former Airdrie, Bolton and Motherwell striker became Blackburn Rovers boss in June 2016, but a dire run of form in the Championship saw him sacked in February this year.

However, MacGregor is understood to rate Coyle and looks set to throw him the chance to reignite his career north of the border.

A hot tip to join Coyle in Dingwall would be his regular assistant Sandy Stewart, who has been his number two at most clubs throughout his managerial career.

McIntyre this week labelled the decision to sack him "harsh", pointing out that he not only won the club the League Cup little over a year ago, he guided them to a sixth-place finish that year and saved them from the drop the season before.

County have only won once in the league this season and that came on the openig day when they defeated Dundee 2-1 at Dens Park.

They have lost five of their last seven fixtures, although a win at Kilmarnock on Saturday could see them move up to eighth spot.

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