Don’t Like Zat Knight? How Dare You!

ceiling-fanWhen Is A Fan Not A Fan?

Quentin X asks the question.

Since I started writing about Bolton Wanderers, back in the heady days of 2008, I have been called a few things by people who have disagreed with my stance on certain Wanderers related topics. Some people think that having a £150 million (and rising) accounting black hole is a good thing because the chairman is a fan. I do not. Some people thought that Gary Megson was a messiah. I did not. And some people called me pond life. And the last time I looked, I didn’t have gills.

However, I have never been lumped into the same bracket of fans who, supposedly, bring the club down. Until last week. There I was, sitting at my desk on my night shift last Monday, when Twitter informed me that I had a message from someone. Let’s call him Max. Max was disgruntled with my article about Zat Knight. And had every right to be as I don’t expect the world and his mother to agree with everything I say. Even my own mother doesn’t do that.

Max is of the opinion that Zat Knight is our best defender. I thought, with the date being March 31st, that he was getting in his April Fool early. This turned out not to be the case. Max continued:

“Not rating a player is one thing, ouright slating him when he gives is (sic) all and when he’s better than some is another. Not what I call support. You epitomise everything wrong with some of our fans, you don’t go to game then slate the easy targets”

Zat shows his tender side

Zat shows his tender side

Well, I admit that Knight IS an easy target, but it’s not as if I haven’t been slating him since Aston Villa fans paid for his taxi north in July 2009. The article was based on his history at the club compared to the performances that he has recently put in. So, I was slating the poor player that I have seen against, ironically, the “improved” player that I haven’t.

However, this got me thinking. Am I actually in a position to have a go at the players that I haven’t seen? Does not going to any games preclude me from commenting?

Of course, I’d argue no. There is no formula that tells you when you are allowed to have an opinion and not have one. But, if there were, I’d say it was on my side. Thirty years supporting the club through all four divisions, travelling from University for every home game and not even living in the town for one single day of my life should show I’ve put the mileage in. Granted, I haven’t been this year but I don’t live within two hundred miles of the stadium and work more Saturdays than not. And I have a family who would like to see me on the days that I’m not slaving away. I get to the games that I can, still putting in the miles. And the money.

And his not so tender side

And his not so tender side

Max says on his Twitter page that he is eighteen years old. This means that he probably never set foot in Burnden Park. To him, the pain of relegation to Division Four is as far removed as the last time the club won a major trophy is to me. I’d say that when you add up the number of games we’ve been to, the odds would be in my favour as having been to more. To me, that gives me the right to slate players and praise players as I see fit. I listen and watch (legally or otherwise) enough games to know more or less what’s going on. I wouldn’t say that I could write a 100% accurate match report, but can recognise when a player is playing well or not. Max appears to go to every home game and that gives him the right to do the same.

But that’s me. What about someone who has been to one Bolton game in their whole life and slags the team off? It’s doubtful there is anyone like that, such is the masochistic nature of your average Bolton fan. But living where I do you find a large number of people who don’t necessarily follow the nearest league teams (Wycombe and Watford), but those from north and south London and the one on the border of Salford and Trafford. These are people who have never set foot inside Stamford Bridge, The Emirates or Old Trafford. What right do they have to slag their teams off?

Well, when I was at University, my house mate was an Arsenal fan and had been to Highbury twice, but was apoplectic when The Arse would usually lose to Bolton. He had the Arsenal top, one of those funny little kits you stick in the back window of your car and spoke with a Wiltshire accent. (Should that not be a Wilshere accent? – Ed.)

However, he would pay money every year to just be on the waiting list for a season ticket. That’s a waiting list. He paid money to the club but could hardly get to Highbury. It wasn’t his fault, it was just circumstance. And what of the 22,000 people who couldn’t get into Highbury but can get into The Emirates? Did their opinion only become valid in 2006? Of course not. Most fans, whether they have been to a game or not, will put money into their clubs coffers in one way or another, either by buying a shirt or paying Sky for the privilege of watching their team on television. Is their opinion not valid? Listening to the likes of 6-0-6 or Stan Collymore, you would lean on the side of absolutely not. But an opinion is still valid, even if it is wrong headed in other people’s eyes. It is for those other people to argue the opposite.

And we all know that expression don't we?

And we all know that expression don’t we?

The thing is, if you’re a genuine supporter of a football club, then you’re entitled to whatever opinion you have, be it positive or negative. I would say the further down the leagues you go, the more your opinion counts. I’m sure that the 200 fans who regularly turn up for my local non-league club’s games will be glad to hear that.

Bolton fans, like every team’s fans, like to have a go at each other. It is generally just gently joshing, although there is always a darker side lingering away on some forums. Max had a point that he wanted to make and he made it. And this is my reply.

As for Max, who has great hair by the way, I’ll just say this.

If Zat Knight really is our best defender, then we’re in more trouble than I thought.

Now, which way is Charlton?

- Quentin X

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We Love You Doncaster. We Do. Oh Yes.

keepmoat8Manny Road doesn’t usually lavish affection on opposing teams, but for Doncaster Rovers an exception can be made.  It’s the results you see.  There haven’t been many competitive fixtures between the two clubs, just nine in the history of the World, but in the most recent games, Bolton have scored lots of goals and Donny nonny, sorry none.

In January 2007, the Whites, then in the Premier League, journeyed to South Yorkshire for an FA Cup tie, with Rovers keen to show off their shiny new stadium.  Radio Five Live pitched up sensing an upset.  It didn’t happen.  With just over half an hour gone, Bolton were three goals to the good.  The commentary switched to another game.

The final result was 4-0, with two superbly taken goals by the a player referred to by Tony Gubba as “Teymourian the Iranian” or Andranik to everyone else.  When he repeated the feat in a league game at Wigan a few weeks later, there was excitement that Sam Allardyce had unearthed a gem from the least likely of places.

Sadly, it didn’t work out.  On taking over as manager, Gary Megson ignored the player and he joined Fulham, suffering a serious injury just after, which kept him out of the game for an extended period. Later, this led to problems securing a work permit and  Andranik returned to Iran.  One wonders what would have happened had circumstances been different.

Megson himself, took Bolton to the Keepmoat Stadium for a pre-season friendly, with Johan Elmander and co having fun in a 5-0 victory.   Even Dougie Freedman managed a 3-0 win over the side now led by irritating dwarf Paul Dickov, earlier this season at the Reebok.  At that time, Doncaster, in wretched form, looked like relegation fodder, but they’ve rallied since then, and will most likely be playing Championship football next season.

There’s no point trying to figure out what side Freedman will pick this evening.  Even he doesn’t always know, but Dougie’s a big fan of rotation, so he’ll be frantically counting bodies, to see if he can replace the entire side which triumphed at Huddersfield on Saturday, with a happy 92nd minute ending provided by Joe Mason.  Take a cushion for that bench, Joe.

That game was dull, but the 2,300 travelling fans, many who had arrived via the Real Ale Trail, didn’t care.  In a season which has been a non-event, it’s encouraging to see that the fun has returned, amongst Bolton’s away following.

Perhaps Doncaster will have the greater motivation.  One more win will surely see them safe, although they suffered a disappointment in going down to Birmingham at home on Saturday.  The Whites are cruising now, and a mid-table finish beckons.   Whether the players care enough about to that to give the following faithful something to cheer about remains to be seen.  We may like Doncaster a little less by 10 pm.

Andranik at the Keepmoat

- Richard McCormick



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And Here We Are at the Reebok. Oh, Hold On

johnsmiths_frontBolton fans trundling up the M62 to the game at Huddersfield today, may find themselves in surroundings that look familiar, for the much re-named John Smith’s Stadium bears a striking resemblance to the Reebok with its curly roof and overhead metal structure holding the place together.

The similarities don’t stop there.  The 1920s was a golden period for the Wanderers with three FA Cup wins. The same applies to Huddersfield who secured three successive league championships – a feat that has never been bettered.

The two clubs have notable individuals in common as well.  Former Whites goal hero Frank Worthington started his career at the Yorkshire outfit and manager Ian Greaves moved across the Pennines to join Bolton, taking them into top flight football for the first time in a generation.

The home side currently lie in 16th position in the Championship, one place and one point above the visitors.  On current form, Bolton may just start as favourites  giving the Whites a chance to move up from  17th place where they’ve been superglued for most of the season.  Huddersfield thumped Barnsley on March 1st, but haven’t won since.  Even so, striker Nahki Wells has scored three times in his last four outings,  a fact that has eluded Dougie Freedman.

“The boy Wells has not really hit the ground running,” he said.  It might be worth putting a crafty fiver on the former Bradford  City man to find the net first.

The week saw a brace of feeble April fools stories.  A hint: If the reader can’t get past the title before realising it’s a spoof, you ain’t doing it right.  But the story that ought to have been a fake, turned out not to be, with Freedman hinting that he might give Zat Knight a new contract, although the Wanderers boss couldn’t do it without throwing in a couple of snide remarks.

“Big Zat Knight is playing the best football I have ever seen him play and he’s fighting for the cause – whatever that might be, he’s fighting for it,” he told The Bolton News.

“If that’s the way it’s going to go I’ll be giving Zat six-week contracts from now on because he’s been outstanding.”

At roughly the same time, midfielder Chris Eagles, turned down loan moves to Charlton and Ipswich.   This is the same player who Freedman claimed he was going to build his side around not that long ago.

It’s been announced that the Whites have no injury problems going into this fixture, but that was said last week and it wasn’t true, so wait for the team sheet. Lukas Jutkiewicz, Joe Mason and Jermaine Beckford have all drawn praise from the Dougie this week, so they may have been left at home, judging by previous behaviour.

Around 2,000 Whites supporters will be making the journey, a sterling effort for what is a dead rubber.  But that’s been the case all season.  Three points would be a fitting reward for that loyalty in what has been a dull campaign.

- Richard McCormick



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In Faint Praise of…..Zat Knight?

Zat_CompOver the years, Bolton Wanderers have had some very capable captains. Nat Lofthouse, Roy Greaves, Gudni Bergsson and Kevin Davies to name but a few. Dammit, Harry Goslin led his team into an actual war and not a made up one where we all boo Jens Lehmann. So, when Dougie Freedman named Zat “Bag of” Knight as team captain in July, a few eyebrows were raised.

First of all, and most importantly, over the past few seasons Knight has been the most consistently under performing player this side of Mario Jardel. Best known for regularly being beaten in the air by players more than a foot smaller than he is, it is incredible to believe that Knight was capped twice by England in 2005. And when I say twice I don’t mean in a Michael Ricketts sense, his first and his last. I mean an actual two caps. Sven must have had his eye “elsewhere” at the time.

Secondly, Knight was a year away from his contract running out and naming a captain who may not be at the club the following season isn’t something that normally happens. Unless you’re Robin van Persie. And I think we can all agree that Zat Knight isn’t van Persie.

At the time, Freedman said this about the appointment “He leads by example both on and off the pitch and is very good around our younger players. There were two or three players I could have selected for the role, and Zat is one of those whose experience and leadership skills certainly fit the bill.”

I cannot comment on Knight’s approach off the pitch, but by describing him as an example on it should have given us all a precursor as to how this season would go. Who the other player or players were who were challenging for the role is unknown, but the subsequent departure of Keith Andrews to Brighton has the smell of an ‘Animal Farm’ coup about it.

As it transpires, Knight has lost his place a couple of times this season and Jay Spearing has stood in. Spearing is a different kind of captain, in so much as he is a foot shorter and has the kind of face that you don’t necessarily respect but agree with in case he murders your children in their dreams. And when Bolton and Blackpool bored nearly 15,000 people to near death last Tuesday, it was Spearing who wore the armband even though Knight was in the team.

So, why praise Knight? Did I say that just to draw you in?

Strangely enough, no. OK, I have never been his biggest fan. But something has happened over the past few weeks that has made me change my mind slightly about the big man. He’s scored two goals, albeit one off his knee when he wasn’t looking and one off his head, again when he wasn’t looking. He had a great game against Derby and then, when he was dropped for the following match, there were howls of indignation rather than howls of exasperation. On Tuesday, in one of the two non soporific moments, he headed against his own post when he would normally nod it into his own net. Small things you know. It’s all on the up and suddenly Zat Knight is playing like someone who appears to know what he is doing. Mind, I said “appears”.

Of course, there is the issue of whether or not he stays at The Reebok at the end of the season. Players tend to up their game when they don’t know what the future holds and for Knight to up his game shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. He admits he’d like to stay but in a completely unscientific poll of Bolton Wanderers fans where I live, the consensus is still that he should be allowed to leave in June. It’s been five years since he was signed in a (…what….£4million deal? That can’t be right. What sort of idiot…….? Ahhhh……!) deal from Aston Villa and, as footballers do, isn’t getting any younger. Best to get out near the top, or as near the top as you can get without ever jumping while defending a corner, and leave the stage with the rhythm of Zat Knight ringing in your ears.

Of course, we will never forget the shambolic defending, the pointing at people who should have been marking the person who has just scored from the corner, even though it was actually Zat who should have been doing it, the inability to clear lines properly and the general dunderheadedness of most of his performances. But if he can continue his good form to the end of the season, we may well don some rose tinted glasses twenty years from now and say “He was a bit crap that Zat Knight wasn’t he?”, rather than what we’ve been saying since July 2009.

And that is the very epitome of faint praise.

- Quentin X

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The Mysterious Disappearance of Dave Whelan

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Bolton Wanderers v Liverpool - Reebok StadiumDave Whelan has disappeared.  At least from off the airwaves.  Earlier in the week, Manny Road reported on the Wigan owner’s interview with Bolton FM.  The full text can be read here, but to summarise, Dave thinks there’s “something wrong at Bolton,”  wonders how such a huge debt was racked up and opined that Eddie Davies, his opposite number at the Reebok, is being “led a dance” by persons unnamed.

A recording of that short discussion has now been removed from the Soundcloud page of  presenter Steve Lucas.  The station was contacted to ask why, but didn’t respond.

Is this part of a fiendish plan to eliminate Dave Whelan and to remove proof that he ever existed?  Fortunately, that question can be answered quickly.  If Dave and his leg are unscathed they’ll be at the Reebok this afternoon as Bolton face Wigan.  The discussion in the chairman’s suite should be interesting.

Whatever Whelan’s faults, and there are several thousand of them, his logic when it comes to hiring and firing managers seems sound.  Owen Coyle and Chris Hutchings were removed quickly when it became clear they were failing, whilst Roberto Martinez, Steve Bruce and Paul Jewell were left to get on with it.

By contrast, since Sam Allardyce, Bolton’s method has been to appoint duffers and leave them in place long enough to cause significant damage.  The latest example is of course, self-proclaimed tactical genius Douglas ‘Record Breaker’ Freedman, a man of comical ineptitude.

If the latest Twitter rumour is correct, mascot Lofty the Lion has bitten the dust.  That’s Lofty, who survived being pelted with pies by Wolves fan in the the 1995 Battle of Burnden.  It’s a sad day.  He was probably having too much fun.  Dougie  doesn’t do fun.  He’s a Scotsman with the generosity wrung out of him.

Wigan arrive in good shape.  Defeat at QPR in midweek was a set back, but prior to that an impressive winning sequence placed them solidly in the play off places, not to mention a stunning away victory in the FA Cup at Manchester City.   A betting man would be backing the Latics to return to top flight football at the first time of asking, but that’s what you get for a making a bold managerial choice. And yes, this paragraph was typed with gritted teeth.

Will Uwe Rosler’s men suffer another inconvenience at the Reebok? That question is asked more in hope than expectation.

For the home side, Mark Davies, the sole creative spark, has been a doubt all week, but will receive a pain killing injection before kick off. The medical team might be better to administer some of those to the crowd.

Predictions?  Oh, go on then.  A draw, with the visitors having 75% possession and Dougie Freedman claiming that Bolton controlled the game.  It make you wonder if he’s Dave Whelan’s secret agent.

- Richard McCormick



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Finally, The Truth About Bolton Wanderers. Well, Kind Of

Whelan_Leg

Wigan’s Whelan waffles

Bolton Wanderers. A club in crisis.  Debts exceeding £160 million, a team still under performing despite having dropped a division, and a spineless idiot for a manager.   The fans are beastly as well, at least according to one country bumpkin.

TwitterFaz

Over the last couple of years, Manny Road has asked the questions that no one else dared to, but difficult as it is to admit, we’ve been trumped, by none other than Wigan Athletic Chairman Dave Whelan.

Under a fierce interrogation in the tap room of a back street boozer, Whelan blabbed to Bolton FM.  It seems the horrible truth emerged as he and Wanderers owner Eddie Davies had a chin wag, on a jolly to the Carribean.

“Bolton have got to get one or two things right.  Like the finances.  Where are the wages going this year?  Something wrong at Bolton.”

Dave was prepared to name names as well.  Unfortunately he couldn’t remember them.

“The lad who,  I was talking to him in Barbados about a fortnight ago.  Lad who owns it.  He’s being led a dance by…….whoever’s doing it at Bolton.  Something’s wrong.

“You can’t lose hundred and fifty million.  How do you do that?

“I don’t know what’s happened at Bolton because Bolton normally is a well run club.  Something’s gone wrong.  You can’t lose hundred and fifty million quid.    How do you do that?    There’s something seriously wrong at Bolton.”

So there it is.  As suspected.  There is, without doubt, something wrong at Bolton and seriously wrong at that.

Thank you for your insight Mr Whelan.  Whites supporters are indebted to you.  We hope your leg gets better soon.  You must tell us what happened there sometime.

Picture of Dave and his leg from the Twitter account of football humour  website Terrace Life

- Richard McCormick



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Forget the Football. Let’s Get Cabbaged

ScytheNot that long ago, the idea of league game with Yeovil Town would have had supporters of Bolton Wanderers in a panic.  It would have been assumed that the Whites had fallen several divisions in a short space of time, which hasn’t happened.  At least not yet.

In terms of history, the two clubs couldn’t be more different.  Bolton were founder members of the Football League.  It took Yeovil 108 years after being founded to achieve that status, which is slow progress even by Dougie Freedman standards.

Now, just over a decade later the Glovers reside in the second tier of English Football having won promotion last season.  At that rate of improvement, they’ll be playing Champions League football by around 2024, which is sooner than Manchester United, once the Trafford Trash have been eliminated from this year’s competition.

As Yeovil rose up the hierarchy, Bolton were hitting the Premier League and even Europe on two occasions, before a steady decline which saw relegation the season before last.  The two clubs are where they deserve to be.

Away tickets for the fixture have sold well, with over 1,000 fans expected to make the journey. How many of them get to the ground remains to be seen.  The drinking prowess of Whites followers, coupled with Somerset cider, has the potential to be messy.  Some of the traveling horde may not be located for several weeks, although thorough preparation has been undertaken at the town’s Olde Man and Scythe training complex, which serves it’s own brand of apple knob calmer.

Which players Freedman will pick can only be guessed at.   Anyone who had a good game last time out, is first in line for the chop, so expect Tim Ream to be pronounced half dead just before kick off which paves the way for the 74th return of Zat Knight.

Yeovil beat Sunderland in the FA Cup in 1949 so the Wanderers boss may plump for a defensive 4-6-0 formation with Lukas Jutkiewicz playing a holding midfield role and Joe Mason left at the services on the M5.

An article in the Bolton News this week, provided a few pointers into Freedman’s warped tartan mind.  According to the headline, goal keeper Adam Bogdan is still terrified of relegation, although he said nothing to indicate that.

Bogdan ‘featured’ in the reverse fixture at the Reebok, allowing a tame shot from Ed Upson to squirm under his body giving the visitors an unexpected lead.   Alex Baptiste spared his blushes with a late equaliser.

Bolton have a 100% record at Huish Park.  Played one, won one in a League Cup tie in 2004 with goals from Henrik Perdersen and the quickly forgotten Julio Cesar, one of Sam Allardyce’s bargain basement players.

Can that be maintained?  Who cares.  The season is over for the Wanderers. Enjoy the road trip and all that cider.  With a bit of luck the team bus will stop at Butlins in Minehead on the way back and Dougie Freedman will be taken prisoner and never seen again.  You can but hope.

- Richard McCormick



 

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The Long Awaited Return of Quentin X

SandWManny Road has a new columnist.  It’s none other than former Vital Bolton editor Quentin X.  What do you mean, who?

So, they said. Write a little bit about yourself so the readers of Manny Road can get to know you.

What? I said. They don’t know me already? After all, I banged out article after article, day after day, for another site for about three years, even when there was no news about Bolton Wanderers. I’ve banged heads with the club over how they commemorate the Burnden Park disaster (they won), had the wife of a former captain frothing at the mouth about things I said about her (possible draw, but I won morally) and was called the funniest thing since a wet weekend in Wolverhampton. Which is a damning indictment on Wolverhampton. Surely I’d be remembered?

But then I thought, if it only takes a second to score a goal (a mantra our current manager could do well with sticking on his office wall) then the year I’ve taken off from writing about Greater Manchester’s third most successful club would not only see people not remember me but probably wonder just what this person from the south of England was doing even writing about them. Yes, the south. What of it?

So, a little refresher for those that know me and a steep learning curve for those that don’t. I’m Steve but you may call me Quentin X, as that’s my twitter mantra (@QuentinX_ if you feel like adding to my 377, and falling, followers. Don’t forget the underscore.) I’ve supported Bolton since 1985. Before that, and this may have you hovering over the close icon in the top right hand corner, I was a season ticket holder in the Stretford End.

It’s a long story but the short version is I once got lost inside Burnden Park when I was a child and the club took great care of me. However, coming from Trafford I supported my local club. Unfortunately that was Man Utd. One day, they threw me out of the ground for standing in the wrong place. And that was that. I remembered how good Bolton were to me and went to support them.

I’ll admit, I’m rarely in the town. In fact, I’ve been about five times. If you’re some people, including the above mentioned lady, that precludes you from supporting the club. I’ve still got a copy of that tweet. And, after moving south in 2006 and giving up my season ticket, I am rarely at The Reebok. Armchair fan? Hardly. Whilst I admit that I wasn’t one of the approximately 18,000 people who claim to have been at Scarborough in 1987, I did go to Halifax later that season. I know where I would have preferred to have gone. Somewhere in storage, after all the other VHS have gone in the bin, I still have a roadrunner video. And an Electric Blue, just for old times sake.

Around this time last year I decided to take a year off. I still paid attention to results but by the time this season rolled around, if I was asked who we were playing this weekend, I couldn’t answer off the top of my head. Beforehand I would still get to as many games as I could. They were just London-centric. That’s four games, if you include Watford. However, Bolton were giving me a headache. I wasn’t happy with the way the club was being run. I wasn’t happy with the way the team were playing. After almost thirty years, I decided to take a rest. I don’t think I was the only one.
,
The problem with football is you cannot ignore it forever and when I started paying attention again, I found the club in the same old position with the same old problems and the same old debts. Plus some new ones. I tried not to worry and not to bother. In the end, it didn’t work. And at about the same time that I thought I should write something again, Manny Road came along and offered me the outlet. The fools.

So that’s me. Pleased to make your acquaintance or re-acquaintance. Hopefully I’ll be here once a week to praise or grumble, depending on what has gone on. More the latter as opposed to the former I would guess. The following words may be used a lot. Gartside. Knight. Money. What, The. Actual. Yellow. Rubbery. ****. Out. Freedman. In. Cows. Arse. Banjo.

Looking forward to it.

Write a little bit they said. Fat chance.

- Quentin X

 


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Dougie Freedman – You’re Stealing a Living

BrightonBolton flounder against Brighton and it’s all looking kind of familiar.

The sight of Dougie Freedman standing disconsolately on the Reebok touchline, hands in pockets, absently kicking at the litter, said it all.  A man out of ideas, but unfortunately, not out of time.  Someone more sensible would have sat down.

Bolton weren’t terrible, in losing to Brighton.  They had a goal incorrectly disallowed, and if one of the long range efforts that narrowly missed the target, had gone in, the result might have been different.

But for the most part, Freedman’s men were easily handled by the visitors.  Oscar Garcia has his side well organised, and that coupled with Bolton’s inability to move the ball around quickly, meant that when the penalty area was approached, it was already full of opposition bodies.

Not everyone saw it this way.  According to a report on the official website “Bolton bombarded Tomasz Kuszczak’s goal from start to finish.”  Whoever wrote that should share their medication with the fans.  We need cheering up.

Lest anyone should think that comment a knee jerk reaction to a couple of iffy results, Manny Road called time on Freedman six months ago in The Dougie Freedman Experiment isn’t Working.

One or two people take exception to that stance, although coherent argument is notably lacking.

tweet2“Mccormack” is still at large.  Soz.

Getting back to the man in question, it’s clear that Freedman is blagging it.  He picks the team several matches in advance, regardless of form.  A player can have the game of his life and not even  make the squad next time out.  It’s a massively demotivating ploy.

A minor reshuffle to counter the other side’s strengths is valid.  Rejigging the entire back four or midfield isn’t.    Every Bolton supporter asked themselves the same question, when the teams were announced on Saturday.

“Liam Trotter.  Why?”

“We’d asked him to do a role similar to Dannsy  and I’ve got to look at myself for that, to be honest,” admitted numb nuts post-match.

Now here’s an idea.  Read carefully Douglas.  If you want someone to play like Neil Danns, why not just select Neil Danns.  The boy has that role nailed.

Most clubs these days use statistics and science to gain insight, but to the Bolton boss, they’re the holy grail.  Fail to cover the required distance during the game and it’s bench time for you sonny, and no, it doesn’t matter that you laid on two of the goals.  There’s also increasing use of the “Freedman Virus” whereby individuals who’ve performed well fall mysteriously ill and can’t be selected.

Meanwhile, the basics still haven’t  been addressed.  Play against Bolton and you’ll enjoy unlimited midfield space.  And don’t worry  about being marked at throw ins.  It doesn’t happen.

The Whites were 16th when Freedman pitched up eighteen months.  Now they’re 17th.  Patience is easier if progress is visible.  And what of all those young starlets who’ll be coming through the ranks any time soon?  Judging by the example of Rob Hall, who’s progressed not one bit, that ain’t happening either.

“There is an impressive setup and structure in place, and a first team squad of undoubted quality. I am excited about the challenge ahead of us,” said our Dougie on signing his contract.

“I am delighted to join Bolton. The club is geared up to getting back into the Premier League.”

Not any more it isn’t, and as season ticket renewal forms drop through the letter box, that Saturday afternoon shopping trip with the wife doesn’t look quite that bad.

- Richard McCormick



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No, Dougie Freedman Didn’t Learn His Lesson

mason“…but knowing the Bolton manager’s liking for crippled-by-caution football, it would be no surprise if he recruits the club captain and his box of magic to strike down Lukas Jutkiewicz or Joe Mason, just before kick off.”

- Manny Road Blackburn Preview 28th February 2014

Right prediction, wrong game. It took just two matches for Dougie Freedman’s childhood fear of playing two strikers to re-emerge.

Having scored three times in the previous three fixtures, Joe Mason was assigned to bench duties in Bolton’s game against Derby County on Tuesday, with the message that he was a bit poorly being relayed by Dougie’s Bitch aka Bolton News journo Marc Iles, who has his tongue lodged so far up Freedman’s ring piece that a French kiss can be delivered from the inside.

Was young Mason really under the weather?  Of course he was.  And that e-mail from a mystery benefactor who wants to deposit six million dollars in your bank account is genuine as well.

In Mason’s absence, Bolton reverted to type with Lukas Jukiewicz, the loneliest of lone strikers.  Andre Moritz was assigned the job of feeding off the scraps, but he’s used to those served with a triple portion of pudding, chips and gravy.  In any case, whilst the Brazilian has his moments, he’d only be quick enough to benefit from a target man if there was a taxi available.

On the face of it, a draw away at the third placed team seems satisfactory,.  Those who made the journey wouldn’t agree.  It was a backs to the wall performance with little or no attacking threat, a mode of football that’s seen Bolton surrender game after game this season.

In addition, Derby are running out of steam, as the leading clubs did this time last year.  Whilst Bolton were humping Leeds, Steve McClaren’s charges lost to lowly Millwall, who themselves handed Blackpool their first victory in 19 games on the next outing.

Dougie Freedman has often been compared to a less ginger Gary Megson, but in attempting to stick to a favoured formation, he’s more like Owen Coyle.  In the distant days when Bolton were a Premier League outfit, Coyle accidentally stumbled on a set up that stopped the defence conceding goals by the bucket load, but then reverted to his usual system against all logic.  That obstinacy cost the Whites their place in the division.  Freedman is the same at  the other end of the pitch.  Results come second to ego.

Brighton are next up at the Reebok and the Bolton boss has already begun instilling the fear factor.

“Brighton defend in a little bit of a different way. We’ve looked at them a lot on the videos, the manager has got them defending a little bit deeper,” he told the official site

“We need to make sure we don’t get done on the counter-attack. It’ll be a tactical game so we need to make sure we’re fully on top of that.”

Oh lordy.  Yes, Brighton are a fearsome bunch.  They’re on the verge of storming the play off places and beat money bags QPR in the week.  They had a big fight on the beach back in 1964 as well, so they’re ‘ard.  And the weather’s better down there too, which means their players are healthier.   Just getting into the Dougie way of thinking you understand.

The Seagulls have a middling record of late, both in general and away from home.  They’re capable of putting up the shutters and nicking a one-nil, as Freedman alludes too.  But they can also be rolled, with the right attitude.  Ask Watford or Charlton.

Be bold and Bolton will win. The fans like it, and on the front foot, the players are more comfortable.  Dose Joe Mason with immodium and leave Moritz on the bench with a bag of pork scratchings.  He can come on in the last ten minutes and score a screamer.

On the other hand Douglas, you can carry on being a wuss.

- Richard McCormick



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