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Dougie Freedman: A Bolton Wanderers Retrospective

New writer Tom, gives us his review of both managers who sat in the Macron Stadium hot seat during the previous campaign - starting with Dougie

I want FIVE players from Palace
I want FIVE players from Palace
Stu Forster/Getty Images

I knew it wouldn't go amiss. "I'm not a critic of Lennon, but the jury is certainly out". The wind whistled through the windows. Saloon doors crashed outside. Tumbleweed brushed along the ground outside. The unspeakable had been spoken.

Did he just say that he doesn't like Neil Lennon? Burn him. He's a witch!

That's the way I remember it, anyway. Others say that I have just been asked to explain myself. So here we go. A critical analysis of both of our managers in the 2014/15 season.  Even Douglas. We're looking at the good, the bad and the ugly for the men in the dugout this season.

Lets start with the man who wasI don't like calling him Dougie. It suggests that I know him/like him/recognise him as a legitimate football manager. However, I tried as best I could to do Douglas's time here in 2014/15 justice. Sweet, sweet justice.

So I racked my brains. I really tried to locate a positive from his tenure this past season. And I think I've found one. Max Clayton. Yes, he put Max straight in the development squad. Yes, he swore blind that, like Clough and Vela, he wasn't ready. Yes, it was the Ginger Prince that gave him his first run in the team. But Douglas made him a Bolton Wanderers player, and for that, and through gritted teeth, we have to give Douglas credit.

The same cannot be said of his treatment of young players - it is rumoured that Josh Vela was determined that his football future lay elsewhere. The very same Josh Vela that played a critical role in Notts County remaining in League 1 in the previous campaign.

The very same Josh Vela that Liverpool has been sniffing around since January. The very same. Douglas always spoke of his desire to bring young talent through. It was the first of many Freedman-isms that we came to expect and eventually ignore, and the sort of bare faced lies that Nottingham Forest fans will be getting used to ("I don't like signing ex-players"...signs Matt Mills).

Lee Chung-Yong - Bolton fans could have been forgiven for forgetting how good Chungy was under Gary Megson and Owen Coyle. Stuck out on the right, then left, then right, then left under Freedman (I'm referring here to Douglas's obsession with swapping wingers at least three times in a game), Chungy looked gone.

The spark was well and truly out. His horrific leg injury at Newport was to blame. Or was it? Was it Douglas that had played the biggest role in turning our star man into a lethargic and ineffective shadow of a good player? I argue yes. And that in itself is possibly the greatest crime Douglas committed as manager of Bolton Wanderers.

On the subject of his signings, Owen Garvan. Dorian Dervite. Joe Mason. Liam Feeney. Dean Moxey. Liam Trotter. Jermaine Beckford. Neil Danns - regardless of personal opinion on the abilities of these players, one of two things is true: either Douglas can't scout a player, or he can't get the best out of one. Beckford's 18 goals at Preston on loan this season suggest it may be the latter.

In terms of his style of play - a rigid 4-2-3-1 without wingers or pressing full backs. Just the thought of it makes you cringe. Matt Mills had assumed the role of quarterback, levelling mostly aimless cross field passes behind the opposition back four, which usually ended up either in the stands or the grateful arms of an opposition goalkeeper.

Douglas's refusal to change the shape against a 10-man Bournemouth earlier in the season showed that there was no Plan B. And let's face it, Plan A wasn't up to much.

The atmosphere around the club was poisonous. The 4-0 defeat at Fulham away had some Bolton fans to take up a gallows celebration that this was one embarrassing defeat too far for dour Douglas. It was.

I don't wish Douglas harm. Honest. He got something right at Crystal Palace, maybe Nottingham Forest will benefit from his football genius. I mean, what have Palace achieved since he left South London?

Nottingham Forest is one of the most romantic football tales in England. Brian Clough. Martin O'Neil. Trevor Francis. Back to back European cups. They demand much along the Trent, and I thoroughly expect the initial bounce of a Freedman reign to be well and truly over by October. A bottom half place after his first 12 games should see Douglas off to the job centre by Christmas.

2014/15 rating - A very generous 2/10


Check out the site tomorrow at 8pm for Tom's look back at Neil Lennon's first season in charge at Bolton Wanderers - Editor.