Five league games in. Two points. No wins. Three defeats. A League Cup loss at the slum dwellers of Birkenhead. Bolton haven’t hit the ground running in the new season. They’ve just hit the ground. Like a fat man falling off a bar stool.
Much attention has been focused on Dougie Freedman. The ‘Trust in Dougie’ contingent is still in evidence, but other fans feels that he’s a complete toss pot who should be removed immediately.
Writing up the P45 might be a tad premature. A replacement would be an old lag who’s fallen off the management merry go ground, or a young relatively untried recruit. In other words the same situation as last time there was a vacancy. But if home games against mid-table sides like Leeds and Derby do not yield wins then the Bolton manager’s position will be closer to untenable.
Freedman has appeared frayed of late. Having previously presented himself as the thinking man’s manager he now seems to have arrived at desperation alley. After claiming that the fans needed to be ‘educated’, criticism was turned on the staff.
“If certain players don’t want to be here then they can go Monday morning, that’s how I feel right now,” he pouted after a second crushing defeat away from home at Blackburn. It all sounds a bit familiar. A former Wanderers boss having a hissy fit post-Ewood Is Dougie Freedman just Gary Megson with better hair?
The former Crystal Palace man faced numerous problems on arriving at the Reebok. Bolton couldn’t defend as a unit and lacked both creativity in midfield and a striker who could put the ball in the net on a regular basis. Almost a year on and Bolton can’t defend as a unit and lack both creativity in midfield and a striker who can put the ball in the net on a regular basis.
Not that efforts haven’t made to rectify the deficits. It’s just that they haven’t worked. Alex Baptiste has been a major let down and Marc Tierney looks every inch the lower league journeyman that he was before playing less than a season full of games for Norwich.
But the main disappointment of the last transfer window was the failure to fill a Craig Dawson shaped hole in the back line. That leaves the wretchedly out of form David Wheater and close to comatose Zat Knight at the heart of defence. No wonder the opposition look like scoring any time they feel like it.
Up front Jermaine Beckford hasn’t found his scoring boots, David N’Gog is as hopeless as ever and Craig Donkey-Davies runs around slowly to little effect, but gets brownie points because he’s a trier.
Things in the centre of the park ought to be better. As Championship level Chris Eagles and Lee Chung-yong have the ability to shine, but haven’t done, while Medo and Jay Spearing lack the tenacity and effectiveness shown at the end of last term. But overall, the squad is lacklustre, like the man who assembled much of it.
Perhaps the most telling judgement on Dougie Freedman comes from numbers rather than words. At Crystal Palace he had a win rate in the league of 35.56%. At Bolton the figure so far is identical. That’s not great or terrible. It’s just ordinary. A final verdict will be deferred for now, but there’s more than a sneaking suspicion that the man in charge is a master of mediocrity.
- Richard McCormick