Today, Dougie Freedman has been manager of Bolton Wanderers for a year. Or it could be Friday.
On October 23rd 2012 Crystal Palace, Freedman’s former club, announced that he’d left to join the Wanderers, but it wasn’t until 25th October that this was acknowledged in the North West. In the media, the difference was put down to protracted negotiations, but given the less than vigilant nature of those who run BWFC it may have taken them two days to notice that someone else was sitting in the manager’s chair.
The Whites were 16th in the championship when Freedman took the reins. Now they lie in 21st position having won one league game in twelve this season. At the Reebok, two fixtures have been lost and four drawn, two of those against opposition currently in the relegation zone.
The stats are bad, but even more worrying is that Freedman appears to have lost his mind. In the latest post match interview, he opined that his side had controlled the game against Sheffield Wednesday, which is at odds with anyone who went through the turnstiles. Bolton were in control in the the same way that a midget fired from a cannon controls the person lighting the blue touch paper.
Calling for the boss to binned, sits uneasily with this fan. Instability kills clubs. But it’s difficult to mount a defence of the man who has had an entirely successful charisma bypass operation. Players will run through walls for the right gaffer. Chris Eagles & Co won’t even open the garden gate.
The only thing in Freedman’s favour is last season’s late run which almost secured a play off place. Over the 12 months in charge the league record reads Played 52 Won 17 Lost 15 Drawn 20. Utter mediocrity.
In mitigation it might be mentioned that there is little money to spend. Bolton are so broke that they can’t even afford to have the floodlights on full beam, and thanks to an unfortunate liaison with a dodgy payment company, they haven’t stumped up for the water bill yet.
But there have been signings. Lots of them, both permanent and loan arrangements. Jacob Butterfield, Andre Moritz, Liam Feeney, Kevin McNaughton, Neil Danns, Jermaine Beckford, Robert Hall, Medo, Craig Donkey-Davies, Marc Tierney, Alex Baptiste, Craig Dawson, Jay Spearing, to name some. And a host of youngsters ‘signed for the future,’ who’ll be shipped out quietly when they don’t make the grade.
Whatever the personnel, the problems remain the same. Opposition is routinely granted the freedom to stroll around midfield, leaving a flaky defence vulnerable, and creativity consists of booting the ball down the wings and hoping that someone will hoof it into the penalty area to nobody in particular.
The appointment of Freedman was a chance worth taking. It was more enticing than giving the gig to some unemployed old lag. But it’s time to admit that the experiment isn’t working. Some insist that the Wanderers boss is working behind the scenes on a plan of such fiendish cunning, that it’s only apparent to those in the know. Wanting to keep the faith is understandable, but the theory is complete bollocks.
The problems at the Reebok are deep rooted. Players who should star at Championship level aren’t performing and too many staff, both playing and non-playing turn up for the pay cheque and have no real passion for the enterprise.
It may be that for now Bolton’s time has gone. So be it. But if there is still ambition to regain top flight status, or least be in the hunt to do so, then an inspirational figure is needed to lead the way. Sadly, that man is not Dougie Freedman.
– Richard McCormick