OWEN Coyle says his long-time assistant manager Sandy Stewart will bring a ‘host of qualities’ to Blackburn Rovers after he was appointed as Alan Irvine’s successor.

Stewart first linked up with Coyle at St Johnstone and the pair have since worked together at Burnley, Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic and Houston Dynamo.


Yesterday’s announcement comes after Irvine left Rovers by mutual consent to take up a job as first-team coach at Championship rivals Norwich City.

And Coyle, who has also been reunited with goalkeeper coach Phil Hughes, said: “Sandy, who’s been my long-time assistant manager, will come in and join us and we look forward to moving on together.

“He brings a lot with him. He’s SFA (Scottish Football Association) staff coach in Scotland, where everybody goes to do their coaching badges and licences, which tells you the level of the quality he has there.

“We were players together in 1990 and we’ve had success wherever we’ve been.

“He’s outstanding, knows the game inside out, is great with players and he brings a host of qualities and attributes that will serve Blackburn Rovers well.

“The great thing for me is he’s very much his own man, and that’s why it’s important you have staff in place like that, because if somebody’s going to just agree with everything you say then there’s no real debate about anything.

“Sometimes they might see something different, which I like.

“Rob Kelly’s here who, as we know, is an outstanding coach and has got a good eye, and we have Phil Hughes the goalkeeping coach too.

“I think we’ve got very good staff and Sandy will hugely complement what we have.”

Stewart spent his entire playing career in Scotland and made more than 300 appearances for Airdrie where he also spent four years as a manager.

The 50-year-old took over as St Johnstone’s caretaker manager in November 2007 after Coyle moved to Burnley and, in his first and only game in charge, led the club to a Scottish Challenge Cup final win over Dunfermline Athletic.

Stewart then joined up with Coyle at Turf Moor, winning promotion to the Premier League in 2009, before following him to Bolton, Wigan and, most recently, Houston.

“I’m obviously delighted to be here,” said Stewart, who played alongside Coyle for Airdrie.

“When you’re out of football, you don’t know how long it’s going to be before you’re back in.

“I’ve been quite fortunate in that way through the years, I’ve always had an opportunity somewhere, so I’m delighted to be here at such a fantastic club as Blackburn Rovers.

“Myself and Owen have worked well together for a number of years. We’ve been at several clubs, the relationship we’ve had has been fantastic since we were team-mates at Airdrie and I’m delighted to be working with him again.

“The facilities here are first class and when I walked through the door I got that buzz again. I can’t wait to get involved with the players and hopefully we can build something.

“We’ll ask everybody to work really hard – players and staff alike – and hopefully that brings success.”

Stewart was part of the Rovers party that arrived in Austria yesterday for their week-long training camp.