Date: 25th October 2012 at 5:42pm
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Which Dougie have we ended up with?

So, Big Phil has got his man and Dougie Freedman has been appointed as the fourth manager to attempt to bring back something akin to the days of Sam Allardyce. Young, ambitious and hungry with a track record so paper thin that you could hold it up to the light and, due to the fact that it was so much closer to said light, it would burst into flames.

This isn’t an initial go at our new manager. Every manager that has been appointed since Bruce Rioch left for The Arse all those years ago hasn’t really had a CV to speak of. Some had managed clubs beforehand, but none of Todd, Allardyce, Lee and Coyle had spent a lot of time in the managerial arena at the top level. Coyle may have had some success with Burnley but the hindsight that has come to pass since his reign ended would suggest that the palms that we laid at the feet of his donkey on that January day should have been kept on the trees. His veritable crucifixion at the hands of some Bolton fans this season will bring an end to this Easter analogy.

The one manager who could be said to have had some success at the top level was the one manager the fans didn’t want. The collective banging of heads upon desks when Gary Megson was appointed could be heard all the way to West Bromwich, where he had had his best times as a manager. So, the appointment of Freedman is not a strange one by the board. Or, to be more specific, Phil Gartside. And if you were to quantify it in terms of excitement by Bolton fans, you would place it half way between the reception received by the messiah and the pariah, who were the last two managers. He does, after all, have more managerial experience than Sammy Lee did. Or does.

Should Jimmy Phillips have been given more time to stake a claim for the job? Probably, if he actually wanted it. As has been said more than once elsewhere, he has the necessary two points per game that is needed to go back up and one of them a particularly hard fought one. But the last time a caretaker manager did well at the club, he was overlooked for Big Sam and that didn’t turn out so bad.

So, what do we get with Dougie Freedman. We have a manager of barely eighteen months experience and a total of ninety games under his belt. He has a win ratio of 35.5% which sits nicely if compared to the last three managers, although he has to go some to match the three previous incumbents of the hot seat before that, if you disregard Roy McFarland, as many do. He beat Stretford at Old Trafford, something which his predecessor never looked like doing, and managed to keep a threadbare squad in the Championship last season and started this season well.

So, those are the pros. The cons? His relative inexperience, whilst not unusual, cannot be ignored. Being young and hungry are nice, but in managerial terms I could still be called young and hungry.

Dougie is young and ambitious. When we met his enthusiasm and knowledge of the game was evident. He has a real drive and passion, and knows what we want to achieve and how we want to go about it.‘ said Gartside today. The only thing that most will be interested in is the going about it bit.

As I said in the earlier article, the past two games have shown that the team have the ability to a) play well and b) come back from adversity, two things sorely lacking a) this season and b) in the past eighteen months. To keep this run going it is probably essential that Dougie gets the ear of Jimmy P, Little Sam and Julian Darby. I have no issue with him bringing in his own men who he had worked well with before. Most managers do that. However, he cannot make the same mistake that OC made by not involving those at the club who know about the club. The Academy staff are mostly ex Bolton players and he would do well to listen to all of them, as long as he can get Zico to speak in sentences with full stops. It may be that they revert to their old jobs, but the Academy should be ring fenced and out of the manager’s reach. It is the club’s future and is showing signs of being able to provide players for the club. To mess around with it would be barmy.

However, the current success of the youth set up should show Dougie what a good set of coaches he has there, and he would be barmy not to involve them. Little Sam has proved himself as one of the best assistants in the business and is in the unique position of having absolutely no chance of ever taking the manager’s seat if Dougie is ever ‘moved on’. You don’t take one of your best assets and then lock it in the back room. The title ‘Academy Manager’ has always been a misnomer anyway. Jimmy P is the boss of that little domain. It doesn’t need two.

So, I meet the appointment of Dougie with a degree of ambivalence. I am neither jumping through hoops, nor looking for the nearest tree to hang a noose. As such, there is no artificial expectation to the job he will do which, in a way, hamstrung both his immediate predecessors.

And that, I suppose, is what makes it a good appointment. Welcome to Bolton, Dougie. We don’t bite.


11 Replies to “Bolton Wanderers: Donnelly or Howser”

  • reading between the lines from the statement Gartside issued, tells me Gartside wanted to offer him the job, for his own reasons regardless of more pertinent considerations on managerial experience and performance history. So nothing has changed, Gartside gets his way again. I suspect more high profile candidates like Mc Carthy are to much their own men for Gartside who would have less control in the relationship. We must hope Freedman can deliver, he might be advised to start practising with a few loafs of bread and some fish as nothing short of a miracle is now required to hit the end of season objective. Offering a less cynical view, the 3 year contract that he has reportedly signed does provide scope for a 2 year rebuild, under a very limited future budget, if we fail to achieve promotion this season, assuming the relationship lasts that long.

  • @ kangaroo jack 11 games in you prat why all the doom and gloom as usual?
    If he brings Lennie Lawrence along which he will he massively outbalances Dougie’s inexperience!

    What i can’t get a hold of though as Palace boards are saying he’s been appointed on the back of an 8 game run and before that he was playig a meg defensive style! Only started playing attacking football when he was threatened with the sack only in September which is probably why he was so willing to jump ship. I just hope he builds on what Jimmy and Sammy have started and not go back to his defensive crap! We haven’t got the players to play tough football anymore we have mainly dancers apart from a couple like SKD, Mills and Ricketts!
    Negativity is a trademark of this blog which equals fat old miserable men, if you aren’t you certainly portrait yourselves that way!

    Thanks for the article atleast you have a sense of humour!

  • Why all the doom and gloom, Freedman took over Palace and managed to keep them up when it look odds on they would be relegated , last season he kept a team that were relegation favourites in the league and got them to the Semi Final of the League Cup,not particularly earth shattering , it does show he can get a group of average players to play above themselves and he hasnt been afraid to give youth a chance. I for one am happy to give him the next 30 or so games to show us what he can do. COYW

  • I think those who are thinking this site is negative are just looking for the negative, which probably makes them……negative. I can confirm that I am not fat and that Al is not old, making us neither fat nor old. Miserable is subjective, depending on the time of day. And where is the negativity in the above article? I said it was a good appointment. I said he had a better track win percentage than SL, GM and OC have as Bolton manager. But I’m not dancing down the street naked at the news of his appointment. But, given the last two appointments, I think that this is a good thing.

  • I am also skeptical of this appointment. I really dont rate what Gartside has chosen him for ‘young, ambitious, driven, passionate, knowledge of the game’. Surely most of these assets are a must for any manager at this level. Sure Coyle was deemed enthusiastic and driven too. What became evident after Coyle was that this club needed tactical experience and a proven track record. Anywho the deal is done. I think its important to get behind Dougie and the team give him every chance to succeed. Blind optimism is called for here and it really cant hurt! COYWM!!!!!!

  • I have seen lots of kangaroos, never been called one before ! for the record I don’t personally shout doom and gloom, the facts speak for themselves : we are 16th in the league, taking just over 1 point per game, unless we go on a victory roll winning 6 games on the trot our season target is unlikely to be reached. Anything is possible and to quote O.C. it can only get better – which we witnessed under his tenure, or did we ? Well we now have a new manager with a wealth of experience who must have been the best candidate out there – why else did Gartside select him? Mr Gartside knows a good manager when he sees him, his track record speaks for itself. Better go and jump back in my pouch ” where has Skippy got too”

  • Have just read elsewhere that it is suspected that Mark Curtis is DF’s agent? Mr X can you please check this out as it would change my perspective slightly. I wish DF all the best and would hope that both he, Lennie and Curtis have strong diplomatic genes which will smooth out the takeover and not put any noses out of joint. As each day goes by post utter failure Coyle, it is beyond belief that he could have been so inflexible, have favourites and ignored our proven sports science knowledge and skills when his faults were so obvious to nearly all of us fans. I really must say the change has been so refreshing and hope that a sextet will double the good works of the triumvirate!.

  • Not negative but we have every right to be suspicious of the talents of Gartside and his ability to distinguish between what’s good for me, and what’s good for the club

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