FredMadagascar writes about Dougie’s reign in response to the post ‘Dougie’s Two Years’
Thanks very much to FredMaadagascar for sending this in. Please note that this was written before Neil Lennon was confirmed as manager.
Following on from Nicky`s piece on Dougie`s two years at the helm of the good ship BWFC, I too have a few thoughts. Like everything on the site these are personal opinions and everybody can feel free to pick holes in them. Living, as I do, in north London, I rarely watch the Wanderers live and have to content myself with highlights and moody feeds. Twas not ever thus but tempus fugitand I do read and listen in order to give some veneer of validity to my thoughts.
I feel that what we have just witnessed is two wasted years during which the overwhelming feeling was frustration and, sadly, a resultant apathy towards the club that we all love. We all grew up as Bolton fans with the intense excitement of going to the match, be it 3pm Saturday afternoon or midweek under lights. Plenty of you still do that (and to be honest I am jealous!) However, my feeling is that the match day experience recently has been one of disappointment and dissent as Bolton rolled out one inept formation and performance after another. I am certain that all the players who have represented our great club had only one thought as they rubbed in the pre-match wintergreen and that was to put their all into the coming game. The problem is that a succession of managers and coaches have not given them the motivation, tactical understanding or basic skill-set to translate their undoubted latent talent into on-field success. Since Big Sam left, Gartside has seen fit to appoint a series of inexperienced managers in Lee, Megson, Coyle and Freedman; the resultant trajectory has been inexorably downward. Sam left, apparently, because the club would not back his ambition with cash for players (had they done so I would not be writing this). I read a letter this morning posted on Facebook about the relationship between Gartside and an agent by the name of Curtis, part of which questioned our chart-topping level of debt with the words “where did all the money go?” Allardyce left seven and a half years ago; since then the club`s fortunes and finances have gone in opposite directions. We are bottom of the second tier playing-wise but rubbing shoulders with Barca, Real and United for level of debt.
I think we all thought that Dougie would cling on for financial reasons and even the sage that is Rob Moss expressed that opinion based on his exemplary knowledge of club finances. My knowledge of FFP is limited but I assume that dispensing with Dougie`s services will have implications and I have read opinions elsewhere that administration may be an option being considered to deal with our debt. Rob has said that this debt is interest free and implied that this is a good thing. I am still not sure how owing Eddie Davies £160m is a secure place for us to be though. Again according to Rob, the silver lining to Freedman`s tenure is that he fulfilled one of his remits by radically trimming the club`s running costs which should shelter us from anything draconian when the FFP rules start to bite.
By now you will have realised that digression and verbosity are my stock in trade. My pupils are forever telling me to shut up and get to the point! Thank god ofsted don`t care about PE! (Lower case g and o intentional)
Many people have expressed the thought that Freedman was a bad appointment. Certainly most of us found it surprising. He had success at Palace but he also had Wilfried Zaha. With all the managers churning around the game unemployed, it begs the question as to why we settled on him. Surely what we needed was an experienced man who would provide stability; lots of us said it.
What I think we got was a yes man; Gartside could parade a young, charismatic manager with a recent track record of modest success whilst behind the scenes tasking him with sorting out the financial shenanigans haunting him personally and the club potentially. This was probably a win win situation. Freedman probably knew that a major restructuring was coming at Palace and he was not going to be part of it. Bolton, with a recent record in the Premier League, must have seemed like a definite ascent of the greasy pole and a chance to make his mark as the coming man. His remit would have been complex; control the big egos, get rid of the big salaries, sort out the financial haemorrhaging and get us up the league sharpish. Gartside got a man who was malleable and beholden; he was also forever paraded as the only mouthpiece of Bolton Wanderers saving Phil the hassle of doing it. If ever there was an interface between sewage and ventilation then Douglas was the man wading in the brown stuff without seeming to really know why. Nicky said he was an honest man and I believe he truly was; his day will come but Bolton was not the right move for him. Manny Road were right when they said he would fade from the collective club memory far quicker than many of our managers as a result of the mediocrity associated with his tenure.
I think the thing that what really nailed him was insecurity. He probably didn`t realise the full implications of being Bolton`s manager until well after he took on the job. He knew Palace; he didn`t know Bolton. He had a lot of senior players he had to weed out (Eagles, SKD, etc, etc) and salaries he had to shift out. He did this pretty summarily without a thought that these players could play a part. In the meantime he never seems to have forged a relationship with the incoming players; probably because it was an ever-revolving door. Or those who remained; he seems to have based his team choices on which players needed to be kept happy this week. I have said before that what the players do on a Saturday depends on what the coaches impart in the week which depends on the manager`s vision. I don`t think Douglas ever had the vision or the plan. I don`t think the coaches had the skill to prepare the players. And I don`t think anybody managed to motivate them or sow anything but confusion. Surprisingly, though, Freedman`s win percentage was better than anybody since Big Sam. I recently read a comment by David Platt who said that in other European leagues the players would absolutely expect tactics sessions to be part of weekly training whereas here most players wouldn`t even notice if there weren`t any!
So, the next manager. I think he needs to be experienced and needs to come in and command instant respect. He needs to be a motivator and a man who can mould this disparate squad to his tactical plan rather the constant tinkering according to who we were playing next that characterised Freedman`s reign. And he needs to get the team playing for all 90+ minutes. Who knows, he may have to throw some tea-cups around! There is an old adage that strikers win games but defence wins titles; we need a shape and we need solidity.
Many thanks to FredMadagascar for this article, if you wish to send us one