After Saturday's defeat at Portman Road Dougie Freedman's side are in turmoil. Wanderers have only won six times in 28 matches and have conceeded 15 goals in their last four away games. To say this season has been disappointing would be an understatement, but where does the blame lie?
An interesting thing to touch on is the difference in patience from the board between Owen Coyle's first full season in the championship, and Freedman's. After Bolton lost at the Den Coyle got the sack after taking 11 points from ten games. At the same time this season Freedman's Bolton side only took a pathetic 5 points, a substantially worse performance, yet Freedman still has a job.
On the other hand, Freedman somehow managed to turn our season around and got within touching distance of the play-offs, lest we not forget his achievements last season. He also hasn't been helped by the clubs' worrying latest financial figures. With limited funds he hasn't done too badly, making some very effective loan signings. Despite this, in the recent transfer window we haven't made the sufficient signings. I'll touch on his tactics later but the club failed to sign cover for full-back, insisted on adding to our ever increasing midfield and later loaned out 3 strikers who all scored for their respective clubs this weekend. Brilliant.
Tactically, Freedman has his flaws, as many Wanderers fans have pointed out this season. One major grumble is his consistently negative team selections at home. All too many times we've dropped points due to this. When 'lesser' teams have visited, both sides were defensive and therefore the match ended in a draw or a narrow defeat. The stats won't lie with that one as we've only won two out of 13 home league fixtures.
Freedman's obsession with central midfielders has also been troubling. We've seen Neil Danns and (most notably) Mark Davies playing wide. I can understand this away from the Reebok, trying to encourage a more narrow and easier to defend style of play, but not at home. His choice of formation (4-5-1)has also frustrated many.
In the interest of fairness, is it all really Dougie's fault? He's inherited a poor squad full of un-ambitious players on ridiculous wages who couldn't care less about the club. He's done reasonably well in forcing some of them out to try to free up some cash. The mismanagement of the finances originates from people in higher positions than Freedman who over the years have ruined our beloved football club. We've now accepted mediocrity. It doesn't seem that long ago when we were beating Atletico Madrid at home, and now we're struggling to beat Yeovil.
I've been the first to brand fellow fans as 'fickle' when some turned on the manager early. I've always given him my full support and never booed him, but my patience is wearing thin. Football is a results-based business and especially this year Freedman hasn't got the results, he says that he's 'building something' but is he really?
Due to our poor financial position can we really afford to sack Freedman? When he came over from Selhurst Park he completed an entire back-room staff upheaval introducing Lennie Lawrence and co. Can we really afford to terminate their contracts and pay them their respective compensation? Probably not.
I've heard many people mention the various unemployed managers who could replace Freedman. Are any of them realistic? If any of you aren't aware, 'Big Sam' is the 13th highest paid manager in the world (earning more than Mancini and Benitez). Can a club in £164m worth of debt really do this? We have to understand that we can no longer attract the same caliber of manager and player, we're a shambles. Combined with our poor players, finances and general mood around the club you'd be a fool to come and join in a possible relegation battle.
Bolton under Owen Coyle
Bolton under Dougie Freedman