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From Youth Lies to Dougie Bingo - The Freedman Fiasco

With Wanderers set to face former boss Dougie Freedman as they visit Nottingham Forest on Saturday, we take a look back at the pick of his least glorious moments at Bolton

Out: Dougie Freedman and Lennie Lawrence trudge off the Craven Cottage pitch after their final match in charge of Bolton
Out: Dougie Freedman and Lennie Lawrence trudge off the Craven Cottage pitch after their final match in charge of Bolton
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

No matter what happens when Wanderers make the trip to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, nothing will tar the image of Dougie Freedman being one of the most out of his depth, clueless managers I've ever seen.

From making false promises about 'blooding the youth' and giving us hope with a late play-offs challenge in his first season, to attempting to buy every Crystal Palace has-been available and utilising bewildering tactics and post-match interview comments that Whites fans coined 'Dougie Bingo' - Freedman's Reebok Stadium reign was certainly one to forget.

Here are six key issues that sum up Freedman's hapless two years in charge of the mighty Bolton Wanderers.

1. Lies about youth

Freedman constantly promised Whites fans he was a manager who loved to give promising young players a chance. At the end of last season, in May 2014, Freedman said:

"If the Academy can continue to produce what I feel are good enough players then they will get their opportunity.

That doesn't matter whether we've got no money or too much money.

If I think they are right, they will be in."

What a load of rubbish that was.

Within six months he had banned Josh Vela from training with the first-team squad and was seemingly forcing him out of the club. Since Freedman's departure Vela has become one of the first names on the teamsheet and has consistently been one of our best players.

Freedman also refused to give young Zach Clough a chance in the first-team. Since Freedman left, Clough has been given his chance by Neil Lennon and scored five goals in five games. Brilliant judgment on that young player Dougie.

Freedman constantly told us that his success at Palace was built on bringing through youngsters, and he's immediately started spouting the same nonsense at Forest.

"I really love coaching young players, I think it is in my make up as a manager.

The players might not always be ready, but hopefully the fans will give them a little more time when they do get their chance and if they do make the odd mistake.

"But if fans do want to see young players given their chance here, then great, because so do we.

We have a couple of players in the under-21 squad who have got a good chance and who will make their debut this season, without doubt."

I'm willing to bet there's plenty of doubt in that statement.

2. Giving us false hope

Dougie's first season in charge was, admittedly, brilliant.

We'd had a nightmare start to the season under Owen Coyle but Dougie picked us up and almost guided us to the Play-Offs, which he would have done if we hadn't choked it on the last day of the season.

But that last day was a sign of what was to come, as the side quickly declined in quality and Dougie began to look more and more helpless. Last season we were clueless, and this season we would be relegated already if the board hadn't stepped in and fired him.

3. His backroom staff

Could you possibly get a more dull and dreary backroom team than the entourage that troops around with Freedman.

Lennie Lawrence is about as cheery as the Grim Reaper on the sidelines, while Curtis Fleming is far from inspirational and the morale of our team was clearly hindered by their approach.

4. Turning Bolton Wanderers into Crystal Palace Reserves

So maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but having already lied to us about giving promising youngsters a chance, at the beginning of this season Dougie rubbed salt into the wounds by deciding that a better solution would be to sign as many washed up former Crystal Palace players as possible.

First up came Dean Moxey, who had an absolute howler of a debut in the 3-0 opening day defeat at Watford, didn't improve in the run of games that followed and has barely featured under Neil Lennon - apart from against Liverpool, bizarrely.

Then came an even more mystifying move, as Dougie decided to bring in the wonderful Owen Garvan. I thought Moxey was bad until I saw this bloke play, and his missed penalty at 0-0 against Wolves typified how useless he was. Why would anyone let a bloke who was far from a recognised goalscorer and had only been at the club for ten days take an important penalty?

Suffice to say he was quickly back at Palace.

Freedman also added two additional former Palace players to the Bolton squad, in young goalkeeper Ross Fitzsimmons, and defender Quade Taylor, who still hasn't gotten close to being on the Whites bench.

5. Dougie Bingo

Perhaps the most galling problem of all, which truly turned supporters against him, was Freedman's complete tactical ineptitude and ridiculous comments in interviews - which our very own Elliot Turnbull dubbed #DougieBingo on Twitter.

He never knew what his best team was and never picked a lineup or formation that would play to our strengths and restrict opponents' strengths. But the lack of consistency in team selections and bizarrely random changes from match to match was incredible.

I remember Jermaine Beckford was in much need of confidence and came off the bench and scored twice in the League Cup against Crewe, only to be an unused substitute in the next game.

6. Jermaine Beckford

The biggest thing I will personally hold against Freedman is the signing of Beckford for £1 million.

Given the publicly acknowledged lack of finances at Bolton, signing a player who has proved he won't score goals in the Championship for this transfer fee was an absolute abomination.

On signing Beckford, Freedman said:

"He's a proven goalscorer and I think he'll be very good for this football club.

"He's right up my street in terms of what I try and buy.

Jermaine has lost that fantastic goalscoring record over the last couple of years and he's got a point to prove in that way, but he doesn't need to prove anything to me in terms of his attitude."

Freedman was absolutely wrong, and was proven to be so as Beckford was a complete embarrassment at Bolton. He had only scored 17 goals in 74 Championshep matches before signing for Bolton, and only had a good goalscoring record in League One for three seasons with Leeds United.

Unsurprisingly he didn't trouble defences at Wanderers and wasn't very good for the football club, scoring six goals in 22 matches and displaying an infuriatingly lackadaisical attitude. He then angered Wanderers fans by waving to Leeds fans when he was introduced as a substitute, and Lennon duly farmed him out on loan to Preston.

I would say good luck to Freedman at Forest, but I simply wouldn't mean it.

I hope we hammer them on Saturday, and can only wish the Forest fans good luck in putting up with his (mis)management skills.