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.
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